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Allen 2017 Fit to Win 3 728

Interview with Team Allen's George Hand

by Mark Jardine on 13 Jun 13 June 2017
Team Allen's George Hand during the Ovington Inlands 2017 at Grafham © Tim Olin /

George Hand of Team Allen is having a superb season so far in the Musto Skiff: undefeated since the Inland Championship at Grafham Water last November. We speak to him about his plans for the season, being a part of Team Allen, and also his sailing in the 18ft Skiffs and J70s.

Mark Jardine: How has your season started in the Musto Skiffs?

George Hand: Incredibly well! I've won the first few events and am undefeated since the Inlands. We've had a variety of conditions and great competition at all the events, so I'm very happy with my boat speed and boat preparation.

Mark: In the event down in Stokes Bay, which is your home water, you were sailing against Bruce Keen, who is a multiple World and European Champion in the class; you had a head-to-head. How was the battle with him?

George: It was very close as always, but it was a tussle that I managed to come out on top of. It was very cat-and-mouse all the way round but I managed to take the win. I'm very happy with how it's going so far and it's great having him there to push me. It's a fierce rivalry which I hope will continue on and on.

Mark: We're looking forward to following that throughout the season! You also sail in the 18ft Skiffs; what events do you have lined up this season?

George: We're planning to do the domestic events on 'Pica', which is also an Allen-sponsored boat, and hopefully we're travelling to Lake Garda for the Europeans where some of the Australian and New Zealand teams are coming over. We'll have a great bit of competition there which will really push us forwards and progress our sailing some more. The Nationals are being held later on in the year at Sandbanks and we'll be looking to retain our title there.

Mark: These are two seriously high performance boats with high loads on the rigging. What does it mean to be a Team Allen sailor and have your boats fitted out with Allen gear?

George: It is an incredible safeguard. Having such reliable gear and great support from the Allen team, you just know that you're never going to lose a race through equipment malfunction. You can rely on it all working to the best possible level: low friction where you need it, high friction on the ratchets, bearings all working as you'd expect and nothing wearing out. I can't recommend the gear enough, it's just fantastic!

Mark: What would it mean to a championship if you lost a race due to gear failure?

George: It can be terminal. Just losing one discard through gear failure can throw your whole event away. It's absolutely imperative that you have the best kit and everything is running smoothly. That's why I choose Allen.

Mark: Do you have a favourite piece of Allen gear on the boat?

George: That's a good question! It's hard to pinpoint one. I would say that the new jib cleat, which was developed for the 49er and has two sheaves side to side and a bearing swivel, as it makes a very good vang cleat for the Musto Skiff and provides much lower friction than the existing fitting. It makes easing the vang and controlling it much more pleasant.

Mark: So being a part of Team Allen, where they have Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell, you've seen a product developed in the 49er but is finding applications elsewhere?

George: Yes, that's what I love about the Allen products and the Allen team. They do the field research with the best sailors and come up with these new, ground-breaking ideas which then can be moved across to other classes and other boats, and find ways to improve existing fittings on those.

Mark: Talking of other boats, you've stepped up into the J70. Can you tell me a bit about that campaign?

George: I've been lucky enough to be offered a space with a boat called 'Darcy', which is a team including John Pink, a very accomplished 49er sailor, Daniel Ayton (Sarah's older brother) and the owner Clive Bush. We've done the Europeans at the Royal Southern and hopefully will be going out to the Worlds in Sardinia. They're a great team and have had good results in the past and I'm very excited to join the team, sail with other great sailors, learn as much as possible and hopefully enjoy more success.

Mark: Going back to your mainstay, the Musto Skiff, this year you decided to sit out the World Championship in Palma and are concentrating on the domestic season. Why did you decide not to do the Worlds?

George: With the next Worlds being in Melbourne, Australia, in only six months time, the cost of getting out to Palma was nearly the same as getting out to Melbourne, so it made a lot more sense to me to put my funds towards going out to Australia and taper all my training through the winter domestic events to really ramp up and look to dominate the event in Melbourne. If I manage it then I'll also have the title for a much longer period of time!

Mark: If you're out in Australia, surely there must be the temptation to also compete in the JJ Giltinan Trophy in the 18ft Skiffs?

George: There is that as well Mark! It's always been on the bucket list, ever since watching 'Awesome Aussie Skiffs' as a youngster. As long as the opportunity arises then I'll jump at it, team up with a decent team and definitely take part in the JJ's.

Mark: It's been great a great start to your season - good luck for the rest of 2017 and we'll be following the results closely. Many thanks for your time.

George: Thank you Mark.

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