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RYA Solent Race Strategy
RYA Solent Race Strategy

Race1 Ker 11.3 Nationals run by the Royal Thames Yacht Club

by Ker 11.3s 22 Sep 2004 10:45 BST 17-19 September 2004
Action from the Ker 11.3 nationals in the Solent © Ingrid Abery /

The 2004 Race1 Ker 11.3 National Championships were held in the Solent on 17th to 19th September in conjunction with the final event of the 2004 IRM series. The races were run by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, the supporting club for the 11.3 class, with Malcolm McKeag acting as Principal Race Officer. Robbie Cameron-Davies’ I-Site, helmed by Tim Thubron and with Philip Crebbin acting as tactician, successfully defended the Championship that it has now won three times.

After a generally light airs summer season, the weekend produced strong winds, up to 25kts and occasionally gusting to 28-30kts, leading to spectacular racing in this most exciting of classes. With short windward/leeward courses, boat handling was at a premium and the results for the first two days were often dominated by the boats that got round with the least problems. The last day started much lighter with 10 to 14kts, but still increased back to 20kts+ and gusting 25kts by the last race.

The first race established the course of the championship with a close fight developing between I-Site, Nick Hartshorn’s El Gringo, and Peter Rogers’ and John Taggart’s High Life. After two rounds High Life, with Paul Campbell-James driving as regular helmsman John Taggart was unable to attend, was just in front followed by El Gringo, but High Life had not understood the course flags correctly and sailed beyond the leeward mark to the finish line one lap too soon. El Gringo then took over the lead and just held off I-Site by a boat length in a close finish with Blue Belle helmed by owner, Michael Cover in third.

The second race saw a similar struggle develop with El Gringo, helmed by Hannah Harwood, I-Site and High Life arriving at the first leeward mark bow to stern in that order. The pressure of last minute gybes and attempts to establish or break overlaps caused a flurry of late jib hoists and spinnaker drops at speeds of 12kts or more, with the net result that only I-Site managed a clean rounding. The other two temporarily headed off towards the beach allowing Skipjack, chartered and helmed by Fenton Burgin, and Blue Belle, helmed by Michael Cover, to take over second and third. I-Site won with a comfortable lead followed by Skipjack who did really well in the hard conditions to hold second place, followed by High Life who regained third place by the finish.

The second day produced the strongest winds, as well as having Nick Haigh’s Farr 40 Too Steamy joining the fleet for the IRM event. High Life and I-Site had a close struggle in the first race with High Life defending successfully to take the gun. The next two races saw this result reversed with I-Site winning and High Life second each time. El Gringo was third in each race. The Race Committee sensibly decided to call it a day after three races were completed in the strong conditions. This left I-Site leading the championship, but with High Life still in strong contention for the last day with four more races planned.

The next day started with much less wind, but this soon started building to 10 to 14kts. I-Site spent the day covering High Life and was helped by El Gringo finishing second between the two of them for the first three races, each one won by I-Site. In fact El Gringo had been leading the second race until a jammed spinnaker halyard prevented a clean drop at the leeward mark, which let I-Site through. Going into the fourth race I-Site could not be beaten and so did not participate. El Gringo now led High Life by a single point and so it was a straight fight on that race, as High Life winning would mean that she would then beat El Gringo on tiebreak. In an increasing wind the two boats led the way and met at the windward mark with High Life tacking under El Gringo at the rounding. High Life went on to win the race, but El Gringo protested for the incident as High Life tacked within two lengths of the mark. In an arbitration hearing El Gringo did not manage to establish that she had had to luff to keep clear of High Life after the latter’s tack and so the protest was dismissed, much to El Gringo’s chagrin.

Overall Results: (9 races, 1 discard)

1. I-Site – Robbie Cameron-Davies, 17 pts
2. High Life – Peter Rogers and John Taggart, 22 pts
3. El Gringo – Nick Hartshorn, 23 pts
4. Blue Belle – Michael Cover, 37 pts
5. Skipjack – Fenton Burgin, 43 pts