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Hurricane National Championships at Harwich Town Sailing Club - Preview

by John Tuckwell 30 Jul 2014 17:23 BST 9-12 August 2014

With the 2014 Hurricane Nationals less than a week away this year's event is shaping up to be one of the best and most competitive for years. Pre-entries currently stand at 35 which are the highest since 2005.

The event is being hosted by Harwich Town sailing club who last hosted the event in 2005 and although the club is not recognised as a major regatta event the view is taken that when they host an event they make sure they host a good one. The Club have the added advantage of Andy Webb, class builder and long-time supporter being involved, as it is his home club, to ensure that the hurricanes are well looked after.

And so to the list of potential front runners based on this season results:

  • John Ready and Henry Siefert - Current 2013 National Champion and 2014 Inland Champion. John is the Tigger on speed of the fleet and is always willing to share tips and settings to assist moving people up the fleet. John is quick when the chances go his way.

  • John Tuckwell and Chelsea Furber - Winners of the Datchet and Bala open meetings. John is a long term support of the Hurricane and is here due to the length of time in the class. Has certainly found speed sailing with his step daughter Chelsea Furber who has only been in the class for two years, previous sailing Toppers. Good at Inland events where they can smell out the shifts but will struggle in sea conditions.

  • Kevin and Trevor Bawden - As brothers who have campaigned their own boats they have both come together for this season and have proved to be quick. Kevin won the Canvey open meeting and 3rd at the Stone event. Both have substantial experience in the class and as brothers will gel as a crew it will just depend if they do not get too phased out by the event.

  • Richard and Chris Hanmore - Another long-term Hurricane sailors with Richard a previous National Champion as both helm and crew. This year Richard is also sailing with his brother Chris again long time super crew. Both showed speed at the Stone event which was their first outing this year finishing second. Richie is quick on any given day and in any given conditions and with brother Chris who is a steadying influence this is a strong pairing.

  • Jack Tindale and Hugo Bull - Another new pairing for this season and their first event was the Stone event which they won 5 of the 6 races against a very competitive fleet. Jack has the Tindale DNA in his blood which has been passed down from his father Geoff and for whom he regularly crewed for. Both have substantial event experience but will they have the speed on the day?
And then there are the stalking horses, the ones that the fleet need to be afraid, very afraid of:
  • Andy Webb and Paul Gray - Andy is the Yoda, the Guru of the fleet. Hurricane sailors in dinghy parks all over the UK still speak of Andy's tuning tips in hushed tones. Paul makes an art of sledging the competitors, the Australian cricket team would lean a lot from Paul and his on and off the water comments. Last time Andy and Paul sailed together was in 2010 when they battled against the three sailed boats in the old two sail mode and still ended up 3rd. This year they do have the advantage of the extra sail so with this and the year and years of experience it would be a brave man not to bet against this pair.

  • Grant and Adam Piggott - Grant is multi F18 winner and the pinup for NACRA in the UK. He is sailing with is son Adam who has taken a break as professional crew on the GC32 catamaran series. Need we say more? As father and son both and enormous amounts of experience that they can draw on, it will just depend if they can sail together and not be affected by father / son bonding and the barrage of sledging. They just happened to be in the area for a wedding is their excuse for attending the event but clearly they could not resist resuming old east coast rivalries.

  • Neil Connelly and Dave Wood - Neil another multi-winner Hurricane sailor who has made a return for a last chance of glory. Sailing with Dave Wood who will no doubt provide the engine around the boat all Neil needs to do is steer in the right direction. This is a strong pairing, it will just depend on Neil body holding up including his back and knees during the event. Neil may end up writing cheques his body may not be able to cash.

These are only 7 teams which may be in with a shout. No mention has been made of the teams from Thorpe Bay including Nick Elmore sailing with is son or the Palmer brothers and the other 4 boats. This does not include the Starcross sisterhood which includes the evergreen John Donavan and the other 3 boats or Stone Massive all of whom have been practising and all have the potential of producing results on the day.

One noticeable change in the fleet is the increase of father and son/daughter teams and the mixed teams. This is evidenced by Nick Moore and Oliver who have shown good speed at opens. Long standing helms are now sailing with younger fitter crews as seen with Geoff Tindale who is sailing with Johnny Van Ingen and class chairman sailing Andy Bedford sailing with Arthur Brooks, both are new crews this season. This influx of youth in the fleet have assisted some of the older sailors and has made evenings a little more entertaining rather than just sitting around talking about former glories.

The hurricane fleet is going through a mini resurgence helped by the value of money that a boat can be purchased for, competitive sailing and strong support from sailors within the fleet creating good atmosphere both on and off the water.

As with all major events this would not happen without the support of the class sponsors, Insurance4dinghies by Towergate Insurance, Andark, Typhoon and A W Sailboats.

Given the interest the F18 worlds generated when hosted in Ireland this year's Hurricane Nationals are shaping up to generate just as much interest within the UK catamaran community and beyond.

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