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Amazing Sailing Stories by Dick Durham
Amazing Sailing Stories by Dick Durham

Alto National Championships during the Medway Regatta

by Jo Wicken 15 Jul 2013 09:13 BST 13-14 July 2013

Four Altos participated in the class's inaugural National Championships held at the Medway Regatta on 13th/14th July. Fantastic summer sunshine greeted the competitors but fickle winds made for tricky sailing.

Race 1 involved a long beat against the tide, close tacking up the shore of Hoo Island in a patchy F1-2. Two separate battles arose: at the front of the fleet Henry Arnold/Matt Moseley (107) were chased by Jon and Cameron Tweedle (115) whilst Tim Kift/Jo Wicken (119) endeavoured to keep Simon Conway/Rich Sheridan (111) at bay. As the leading pair approached buoy 25 after nearly an hour and a half's beating, the RIB was standing by. Jon/Cameron just managed to pull ahead of Henry/Matt, expecting to round the mark and sail for the club line as a shortened course. The two boats separated, only to find the race was to be finished at the buoy which allowed Alto 107 to snatch victory.

By Race 2 the sea breeze filled in and Tim/Jo took advantage after a good start. The course continued right downriver to buoy 17, again requiring close tacking inshore. The breeze slowly declined through the race and superior boat speed and perfectly-executed roll tacking allowed the other three Altos to leave 119 in their wake. The fleet was turned at the downriver buoy and with kites up, it was a race for home. Henry/Matt again took the bullet, this time with Simon/Rich 2nd.

With everything to play for on day 2 but a poor wind forecast, the expectation was that there would be a morning postponement. Not to be, however! The RO took the opportunity of using the light prevailing wind, now in the SW, before there was a risk of it being cancelled by the sea breeze. Altos 111 and 119 had the perfect start whereas 115 was still on the shore as the 1 minute went. Despite the forecast, the conditions were far better than the previous day providing some enjoyable sailing. Race 3 was won by Simon/Rich with Tim/Jo in 2nd.

Race 4 was the decider for the championship with the title achievable by either Henry/Matt or Simon/Rich. The former established a comfortable lead as the prevailing wind succumbed to the sea breeze. Chased all the way round the course by Simon and Rich, Henry and Matt looked safe, only for near disaster to strike as they rounded buoy 31, a short distance from the finish line. The wind became very light and they were caught in the lee of a Vortex. Gybing for clear air, they were unlucky to wrap the spinnaker around the spreaders, just as Simon/Rich sailed into the wind line and picked up speed. Henry/Matt held their nerve and scraped their third win of the championship by a boat length from Simon/Rich.

Designer of the Alto, Mike Arnold, presented the prizes. National Champion, Henry Arnold, thanked the organiser, helpers and sponsors for all their efforts to make such a successful regatta.

Overall Results:

1st Henry Arnold & Matt Moseley (Royal Thames YC)
2nd Simon Conway & Rich Sheridan (Docklands WSC)
3rd Tim Kift & Jo Wicken (Wilsonian SC)
4th Jon Tweedle & Cameron Tweedle (Oxford SC)