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Zhik 2016 Yachting Range

Zhik Cadet Inland Championship at Rutland Sailing Club

by Neil Collingridge on 3 Oct 30 September - 1 October 2017

For the second weekend running the UK Cadet Class gathered at Rutland Water for the concluding event of their Selector Series for the 2017/18 Winter Squads.

The forecast called for a little more wind on Saturday and a lot more -potentially a lot, lot more - on Sunday. Proceedings were a little more laid back than usual as boats had been left rigged from the RYA zone squads the previous weekend in a popular move with the support crews (aka parents) to reduce hassle (and cost!). That said with coveted squad places up for grabs no one was feeling that relaxed.

Race 1 kicked off halfway down the lake opposite Normanton Church in a reasonable 8-10 knots from around 210 degrees but flicking 20 degrees right to left constantly to reward the awake and punish the asleep. At the first windward in the gold and silver fleet, Lia Fletcher and Mish Collingridge held a big lead from siblings Angus Collingridge and Ed Fletcher with Charlotte Videlo and Tom Shepherd in third. As the race unwound, with Lia and Mish momentarily heading towards a rogue mark, the fleet bunched up until Angus and Ed took the lead up the last beat with Kate White and Rhona Enkel moving up strongly into second, Charlotte and Tom holding third and Lia and Mish now back in fourth. These positions held to the finish.

The bronze fleet had an encouraging entry of 9 boats - the best for several years and very encouraging for the future - and saw Thomas Hayley and Luke Sperring taking the win from Antonia and Megara Wilkinson.

Race 2 - quick course change to adjust for the shifting breeze and off they went, most working the perceived favourite left side of the track. Angus and Ed this time did not have everything their own way at the pin, jumped the start and re-rounded the mark taking 23 cadet transoms and setting off on a frolic of their own to the right hand side of the beat. Up the left it was Phoebe Bradshaw and Mimi Slump leading the pack back in towards the windward mark with Cally Terkelson and Phoebe Barr in hot pursuit followed by Lucie Nunn and Eloise Mayhew.... but to most spectators' astonishment more pressure and a fortunate shift saw Angus and Ed cruise in from their solitary confinement on the right to sneak around in the lead - a position they then held around the two following laps to the finish. Cally and Phoebe worked passed the other Phoebe and Mimi with Katie Yelland and Sheri Lynch taking a creditable 4th place.

Bronze fleet saw Ollie and William Mears this time prevail ahead of the ever-consistent Thomas and William after some confident spinnaker work given how little time they had spent together in the boat (nil!).

Having seen some uncharacteristic line shyness up to this point, the race committee had to call the gold/silver fleet back for race 3 as too many to identify jumped the gun. On the restart Kate White and Rhona Enkel played the right side of the course to lead from Phoebe and Mimi and to hold those positions to the finish with Emily Spiers and Rosie Voyantzis in third and Faye Chatterton and Amelia Mayhew 4th.

Bronze fleet saw the same two top protagonists but with positions reversed - Thomas and Luke in the top spot and Ollie and William runners up.

Overnight Angus and Ed counting 1,1,8 held a slender lead ahead of Kate and Rhona on 12 points with Charlotte and Tom on 14 points and Phoebe and Mimi on 16. Thomas and Luke, all the way from West Kirby, led the rankings in the Bronze fleet with 1,2,1 from Ollie and William on 7 points.

Sunday morning and the threatened storms seemed either to have blown through overnight or to have held off for later. This time Arky, the Cadet Class race officer, had more of the lake to play with and took the fleet down towards a start off Whitwell Creek with a healthy length beat up past the water tower - only one cadet managed to hit it over the following 3 races.

With the breeze up to 12-14 knots and increasingly menacing skies it was game on again for race 4. One boat - Charlotte and Tom - was over and didn't return but with the left hand paying again it was Phoebe and Mimi followed by Lia and Mish and Faye and Amelia leading the peloton. First and second place held firm but Cally and Phoebe moved up to third by the finish. With the overnight leaders back in 11th and Kate scoring an 8th, things were beginning to tighten somewhat in the overall battle for the title.

Bronze fleet saw Ollie and William score their second win after a cracking start with Thomas and Luke second leaving that fleet also delicately poised overall.

Breeze picking up more (now 15 knots with 19 in the gusts), white horses straight down the lake, anyone would have been forgiven for forgetting this was the Inlands. Another general recall, this time followed by the Uniform flag to instil some needed discipline and off they went for race 5 and the fleet was split left and right across the course for once with it difficult to call the likely winners. Lia and Mish blasted out left from the middle of the line and stretched their legs around the track to an emphatic win leaving everyone trailing. Emily and Rosie were well placed with Connor Line and Toby Bush also clearly enjoying the breeze as they rounded the second leeward with Angus and Ed back in 6th and Kate and Rhona 7th. Never afraid to bang a corner, Kate headed right and stormed back to second at the final windward to finish in that position behind Lia and Mish with Emily and Rosie in third. Angus and Ed clawed back to 5th behind Connor and Toby to stay in touch overall.

The bronze fleet were generally coping very well with the increasingly boisterous conditions - plenty of spinnakers being flown, one or two swims being taken (as there were in the gold and silver fleet). Thomas and Luke again imposed themselves on proceedings to score a third race win ahead of Antonia and Megara Wilkinson, thus winning bronze fleet with a race to spare.

There was nothing so clear cut in the Gold /Silver fleet. It's probably fair to say that no one knew what was needed to win overall (err: generally it's fewer points than the oppo!) although to the spectators it felt like the winner to back was most likely to come from one of Angus/Ed, Kate/Rhona (each a decent each way bet) or possibly either Phoebe/Mimi or Lia/Mish (as a better odds outside chance). Breeze now up again, skies menacing more, anemometer on the committee boat regularly registering over 20 knots with a 23 maximum gust. One final big effort to come.

Angus and Ed, who hadn't until now had the best of days, grabbed it by the horns, won the pin, headed right up to the left shore and plopped onto port on the header to cross everyone and lead at the top. Never giving up both Lia and Mish and Kate and Rhona chased hard, perhaps gaining a little each time upwind but with Angus doing enough to cover and then pull away down the running legs. A decent sized left hander saw a new windward laid for the last beat with some wondering whether the exhausted sailors would spot the flag signals and accompanying vuvuzela sound signals as they rounded up for the last time. Tired limbs, some frantic cover tacks, one or two slight wobbles back down the rolly-polly run (particularly on the final spinnaker gybe to the finish) and it was Angus and Ed taking their third win of the weekend ahead of siblings Lia and Mish and then Kate and Rhona....sort that one out mathematicians and bookmakers!

In bronze Thomas and Luke showed they were, after all, fallible with, this time, Toni and Megara taking a popular first from Zac Clarke and Brandon Barker.

Overall it couldn't have been tighter. Angus and Ed took the win and became 2017 Inland Champions on 16 points but only on first places countback from Kate and Rhona (and only then because a boat had had to retire the day before for sailing the wrong course). Lia and Mish had sailed a great second day to move from 7th overnight to third.

Silver fleet who were clearly happy to mix it up with the gold fleet sailors was won by Cally and Phoebe (also 6th overall) with Katie and Sheri 2nd (7th overall) and Charlotte and Tom third (9th overall).

And certainly not to be forgotten, Bronze fleet was won by Thomas and Luke from Ollie and William second and Toni and Megara third. All this fleet showed tremendous determination throughout what were at times some very testing conditions.

A tremendous prize giving followed with extensive and excellent prizes from Class Sponsors Zhik - to whom a big thank-you is due as always.

Exe sails kindly donated a Union Jack spinnaker for the "Spirit of Cadet" award, going to Jess Watling moving up from 4 years as crew to her first event as a bronze fleet helm. Thank-you to them also.

So overall a cracking event - Rutland were great hosts once again. Much encouragement should be taken - young sailors everywhere with grins on their faces, popping kites up oblivious to the conditions and all pushing themselves hard whatever their experience or fleet positions. Squad places will be decided soon but with regional training also available through the winter and with the bronze fleet now looking like it's back to healthy growth there is much to be positive about for this wonderful, friendly junior class. The UK National Cadet Class: still the breeding ground of Champions.....you'll never forget your first cadet - buy one!

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