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30th Hurricane 5.9 National Championship at Pagham Yacht Club

by Julian Reichert on 14 Sep 17-20 August 2017
30th Hurricane 5.9 Nationals at Pagham © Champion Marine

Eighteeen Hurricanes descended upon the friendly Pagham Yacht Club on the south coast for their 30th National Championship across four days at the end of August.

This highly competitive fleet consisted of the usual mix of current and former champions, class stalwarts, very fast newcomers, UKCRA Youth squad and even infiltrators from sister boat, the Tornado, in the form of current National Champions Kevin Dutch and David Oakley. With a fantastic sailing area, a generally strong wind forecast and the banter flowing from the word go, it was certainly game on!

Unfortunately, the wind on Day 1 did not play ball. Ironically it was another hurricane, Gert, out in the Atlantic that pushed a low pressure front towards the UK bringing with it winds of more than 30 knots. The fleet sat rigged and ready for Race Control to lower the red flag and send us afloat. Just as the flag went down, even stronger gusts came through and so launching was postponed. Cue the hasty de-rigging of boats in order to preserve sails. After giving the wind every chance abate slightly, the Race Control eventually abandoned the days racing and opened the bar.

Day 2 dawned with the wind still coming hard from the south west but the fleet had a renewed determination to take to the water with many crews sporting class sponsor Forward WIP gear for that extra protection from the elements! The Race Officer informed the fleet that the plan was to make up for lost time and sail 3 races back-to-back.

Class Chairman Andy Bedford was obviously very keen to get going, so much so that he was in race mode sailing out to the starting area with his kite up, unfortunately capsizing and although the boat was unharmed, the ligaments in his right knee were not, which meant an end to his regatta before it started! He then spent the next 3 days organising the fleet and lending various bits of his boat out to other competitors!

Race 1 started with no start line dramas and it was current National Champions Neil Connelly and Trevor Bawden who got away well hotly pursued by the ever quick John Tuckwell crewed by James Stacey. With neither side of the course particularly paying off, most boats arrived at the top mark within touching distance of each other. Current Inlands Champions and known heavy weather bandits Julian Reichert and Jeremy Sandford revelled in the conditions and fought their way to the front, opening up a gap by the end with Connelly/Bawden 2nd, Tuckwell/Stacey 3rd closely followed by Team Palmer. The Tornado boys had a real baptism into hurricane sailing with a blown kite in Race 1 and a capsize on the finish line in Race 2, earning themselves the 'numpties of the day' crown.

Race 2 was won by Connelly/Bawden with Reichert/Sandford recovering from being buried on the start line to take second followed by Adam Charlesworth making a welcome return to Hurricane circuit. Hurricane old hand (but still trying to masquerade as a youngster) Greg Reed crewed by Catherine Elson fought their way to 6th place after an exciting battle with spritely veterans Geoff Tindale/Dan Tindale and John Donovan/Nigel Hingston.

Race 3 was started in quick time but with the wind blowing up during the start sequence to approaching 30 knots, there were a few casualties, not least of which Tim Roberts/Chris Smith who ended up landing on a different beach altogether and single-handedly boosted technical supremo Andy Webb's pension fund! After all the carnage, it was Reichert/Sandford who won the race followed by Connelly/Bawden and Dutch/Oakley.

The wind on Day 3 had calmed slightly(!) to just the 20 or so knots with the gusts still making things interesting. Race 4 got away with Connelly over the line and a few raised voices from boats at the committee boat end as the whole fleet was clearly in race mode from the off. With most of the fleet tacking in-shore, the few boats that stayed out to sea benefitted slightly and reached the top mark first with Dutch/Oakley, having mastered how to tack a boat that is 'only' 8 feet wide, chasing leaders Reichert/Sandford hard. Charlesworth/Robinson managed to clip Team Palmer coming off worst with a split bow and a snapped spinnaker pole. Having nursed the boat to the finish, they were back out for the start of day's last race thanks to the technical shore team led by Chairman Bedders. Connelly recovered to finish 3rd after a blistering last kite leg and a special nod to newcomers Brian Allen/Ian Wright who finished a very credible 8th just behind Clacton SC compatriots Matt Burrell/Dan Brzezinski.

Once again Connelly/Bawden and Reichert/Sandford were fighting it out for the lead in Race 5 until an exploding trapeze wire block hindered the latter who managed to single trapeze and hike hard for two laps to fend off Tuckwell/Stacey in 3rd as the wind shifted and started to ease. Team Tindale and Ben Cutler-Sharp/Kez Wiltshire showed just how quick they can both be downwind as they closed up on the leaders by the end of the race.

As the wind eased slightly further to champagne conditions, Race 6 was a close affair with Team Palmer taking the win having worked hard to stay in front of Connelly/Bawden who tried every trick in the book to get ahead. Cutler-Sharp/Wiltshire finished 3rd, once again showing everyone how to sail low and fast downwind with Tuckwell 4th and Charlesworth 5th having found some more breeze inshore on the final kite run home.

So after 6 races going into the last day there was only 1 point in it between leading two boats and with two discards on offer after the next race, it was going down to the wire. Team Palmer and Greg 'Tom Jones' Reed comfortably won the karaoke session that night but with no points on offer, they would both have to let their sailing do the talking the next day.

Race 7 started in 10 knots of breeze with a few light patches out on the course. Reichert/Sandford, Connelly/Bawden and Team Palmer all arrived the windward mark together and continued the battle downwind with Reichert edging ahead. The three boats ended up splitting the beat in search of more pressure in the rapidly declining breeze and it was Connelly/Bawden who found it first and ended up being lifted to the windward mark and were never headed from there with the Palmers in 2nd and Reichert/Sandford 3rd, just in front of the Tindales. Still all to play for.

Into the last race and Team Palmer got away in the light conditions with Reed/Elson's port flyer just about clearing the fleet and moving them into a strong position. Connelly/Bawden and Reichert/Sandford matched tack for tack but it was the former who came out on top as the breeze filled in once more to give a glorious final couple of laps to what was the closest Nationals in years.

Connelly/Bawden finished one point ahead of Reichert/Sandford to retain their crown as National Champions with Team Palmer taking a solid third place after their impressive end to the regatta. The Class would like to thank everyone at Pagham Yacht Club who helped make the event such a success and to the sponsors for their ongoing support and prizes; Forward WIP, GJW Direct Insurance, Andark, AW Sailboats, Dinghy Rope and M2 Graphics.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1481Neil ConnellyTrevor BawdenRCYC‑212‑312129
2455Julian ReichertJeremy SandfordThorpe Bay YC12112‑7‑3310
3335Paul PalmerRob PalmerThorpe Bay YC45(DNF)‑6512118
4483John TuckwellJames StaceyBala Sailing Club34(DNC)434‑9826
5428Adam CharlesworthRich RobinsonStokes Bay534‑13(DNC)57630
6456Geoff TindaleDan TindaleStone Sailing Club6‑755464(DNF)30
7137Gregory ReedCatherine ElsonDatchet Water SC76(DNF)‑9686437
8421Ben Cutler‑SharpKez WiltshireStarcross8(DNC)(DNC)11735741
9454John DonovanNigel HingstonStarcross98DNF‑1211‑138552
10229Kevin DutchDavid OakleySeasalter Sailing ClubDNF1232129(DNC)(DNC)55
11420Brian AllenIan WrightClacton SC‑14106891111‑1355
12216Matt BurrellDaniel BrzezinskiClacton SC‑1211(DNC)781210957
13485Graham Buxton‑SmithIzzie StylianidesStarcross11‑13(DNC)101010121164
14406Tim RobertsChris SmithRunswick Bay109DNF(DNC)(DNC)DNC141073
15135Larry FoxonJames FoxonClacton SC13(DNF)(DNC)141315151282
16118Paul MckayMax McCarolDatchet Water SCDNF(DNC)(DNC)151414131487
17431Andrew BedfordJoe Buxton‑SmithDatchet Water SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC114
18451Michael MarinerZachary MarinerBognor Regis SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC114

Prize Winners:

  • Grand Prix Travellers Trophy: Julian Reichert & Jeremy Sandford
  • SX Anniversary Trophy: Graham Buxton-Smith & Izzie Stylianides
  • Team Trophy: Starcross Yacht Club
  • Most Improved: Brian Allen & Ian Wright
  • Best Placed Mixed Crew: Greg Reed & Catherine Elson
  • Youngest Combined Crew: Greg Reed & Catherine Elson
  • Oldest Combined Crew: John Donovan & Nigel Hingston
  • Furthest Travelled: Dan Tindale (Palma, Majorca)

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