Please select your home edition
Lennon Thermalite 728x90 1

Hurricane National Championships at Harwich Town Sailing Club - Overall

by John Ready 4 Sep 2014 15:43 BST 9-12 August 2014

Harwich Town Sailing Club hosted the National Championships for the Hurricane 5.9 Catamaran Class over the weekend of the 9-12th August. Twenty eight teams travelled from as far afield as Dublin Eire, Wales and Devon. Competition was particularly strong this year with six individual teams with previous National and European Championship titles behind them taking part.

Harwich Town SC proved to be ideally suited to host such an event with Harwich Green offering plenty of grassed area for rigging the boats and safe launching into the Harbour from the beach. The recently upgraded changing facilities and social area areas of the local club topped off the facilities for the visitors.

Racing got under way on schedule at midday on Saturday under the management of principle race officer and club Commodore Didge Everett. The wind was blowing across the bay from a west by south westerly direction gusting up to twenty knots with a wind blown chop. Ideal conditions for some fast and furious action yet testing on the crews' abilities as any mistakes were punished by a capsize or high speed collision. The local Rescue boat team were kept busy with a dismasting and a number of capsizes throughout the session.

Straight out of the blocks it was former class Champions Neil Connelly crewed by Dave Wood from Stone SC and Grant Piggott crewed by his son Adam Piggott from Weston S C pulling away from the pack to fight it out for first blood. Back in the main pack mixing it up were nationals newcomers Julian Reichart and Jeremy Sandford from Thorpe Bay YC battling with Jack Tindale and Hugo Bull from Stone SC taking on local pairing and former Champions back in 2005 Andy Webb and Paul Gray who had come out of retirement for the event.

Gray's pre-race preparation consisted of shirking boat maintenance were possible and a whopping Thai Curry washed down with copious amounts of lager on the pre-race night, couple this with the pairing's pre-event tuning and practice session consisting of the sail out to the start line for race one these two were looking like has-beens! Team Piggott took the first race, Connelly second and by some miracle Webb/Gray managed to act on some favourable wind shifts to climb up to third place.

In race two the weather conditions continued to hold up, this time Team Piggott made a good start to take the first windward leg and progressively build a safety margin of a lead over the ensuing pack. Reichart/Sandford revelled in the steady wind strength using their crew weight and stature to great advantage pulling out a second place. Enter the 'heavy weather sharks' of the fleet in the form of Mark Woods and James Heyes from Island YC mixing with another former Class Champion Ritchie Hanmore crewed by his brother 'Rocket' from Stone SC and another brotherly pairing of Trev and Kev Bawden also from Stone.

Woods/ Heyes took a well deserved third place despite the pressure from the lighter pairings on the downwind legs. Webb/Gray were floundering having hit the pin end start buoy, after their 360 things got worse on board as Gray managed to wreck the spinnaker halyard system when trying to pull the spinnaker down at the leeward mark by mistakenly pulling the uphaul line. Rust stains could be seen leaching from the pairings wetsuits!

For race three the wind conditions had slightly increased, gusts occasionally hitting 24 knots, but the sea conditions had flattened slightly due to the falling tide. Webb and Gray drew a line in the sand producing an aggressive start probably help by a pre race application of WD40 inside their wetsuits.

After an initial close tussle the locals found some of their old form and went into overdrive posting a comfortable horizon job win. Back in the pack team Piggott had started poorly and were fighting to get back into the race. Team Hanmore, Reichart/Sandford, and Connelly were not going to make it easy. The Piggotts managed to go into overdrive whilst under pressure to break through on the last lap and take a well earned second from Team Hanmore in third.

It was the turn of a different Hurricane to take centre stage on Sunday as Hurricane Bertha made her presence known. Conditions were un sailable and this continued into Monday with yet more racing cancelled. The visiting sailors were given a true Harwich Community experience with impromptu tours hosted by the Mayflower Project, Harwich Lifeboat Crew and the Harwich Society.

Tuesday dawned bright and still Breezy. The Race Management Team decided to lay on racing for the fleet based on a forecast of decreasing wind. The remnants of Bertha had other ideas and the wind actually increased across the course with gusts of up to twenty-six knots.

Race four got off to a clean start and it was the Piggotts and team Webb/Gray who broke away from the fleet to thrash it out. Piggotts cleared the first mark just one boat length ahead of the local boys who were now feeling energised after a two day re-cooperation. During the downwind leg with spinnakers pulling and the crews wiring right off the transom boat speeds were estimated as being well into the 25 knot range.

Half way down the leg a large gust hit Webb/Gray resulting in nose dive which catapulted Gray from the stern of the boat towards the bow which nearly caused a total wipe out. Somehow they managed to hang on and regain control but it was clear that the tactic of the day for these two was to survive the overpowering conditions. Team Piggott took the finish gun, Webb and Gray hung on to take a safe second, the heavy weather sharks (Woods/Heyes) sailed consistently for a third handed to them when Reichart/Sandford capsized at the leeward end of the course after a very close tussle throughout the race.

The race management decided to hold a final race due to a slight 'softening ' of the race conditions. With plenty of adrenaline still flowing from the previous race the fleet made a false start resulting in a general recall. At the restart the wind had increased further with gusts of 29 knots coupled with a rising sea.

The scene was set for a testing race for all. It was team Piggott and Woods/Heyes who took first and second place around the top mark with Webb/Gray a close third. By now Webb and Gray's lack of fitness was showing, it was a battle against the elements and the heavier crews now chasing down the pairing who were giving away a four stone deficit in crew weight on the Piggotts (efficiently positioned in Adam Piggotts' muscular upper body frame; his dad never looked like that when he was young...) and even more weight deficit on the ensuing pack, despite Gray's beer belly.

Team Piggott kept their foot to the floor to take the finish line and seal a solid championship win whilst Webb and Gray managed to overtake the Sharks and hang on by their shirt tails to survive and take second place and a firm second championship place overall. Reichart/Sandford took another swim!

The Hurricane Catamaran Class Association Chairman Andy Bedford said "...Harwich Town Sailing Club and the supporting local community have laid on probably the best Hurricane Championship in the Classes History and I would like to personally thank them all for their efforts and hope that we are invited back again in the future..."

The event was generously sponsored by the following organisations in no particular order, Towergate Mardon Insurance, AW Sailboats, Andark Marine, Typhoon, Shepherd Neame.

Top 10 results overall:

1. Grant and Adam Piggott (4 points) Weston SC
2. Andy Webb and Paul Gray (8 points) Harwich Town SC
3. Julian Reichert and Jeremy Sandford (18 points) Thorpe Bay YC
4. James Heyes and Mark Woods (21 points) Island YC
5. Neil Connelly and Dave Wood/ Robbie May (25 points) Stone SC
6. Doug Smith and Jamie (27 points) Starcross YC
7. Andrew Dobbs and Lloyd Turner (28 points) Island YC
8. Jack Tindale and Hugo Bull (32 points) Stone SC
9. Adam & Paul Charlesworth (35 points) Stokes Bay SC
10. Alex Burling and Harry Lucas (42 points) Island YC

Full results [PDF]

Related Articles

Hurricane 5.9 SX Nationals at Canvey Island
29 Hurricanes, a fantastic force 3-4 forecast and sunshine Island Yacht Club at Canvey Island, Essex, hosted the 2019 Hurricane 5.9 SX championships over three days at the end of August. With 29 Hurricanes, a fantastic force 3-4 forecast and sunshine, all was set to be a great weekend of racing. Posted on 15 Sep
Hurricane 5.9 SXs at Starcross
Held during the annual Exe Regatta It was the turn of Starcross Yacht Club to host the annual Exe Regatta on the 8th and 9th of June 2019. The regatta is a joint effort between the five clubs situated on the River Exe. Posted on 17 Jun
Grafham Cat Open to held on 20-21 October
Open to all popular catamaran classes The Grafham Catamaran Open take place on 20/21 October. This is usually the biggest catamaran event in the UK and is open to all popular catamaran classes. Posted on 12 Oct 2018
Hurricane TT at Starcross
Sprint style format works well On a sunny and windy (eventually) summer weekend, three visitors came to join in with the SYC home fleet, currently the largest in the country, for a weekend of exciting racing. After an initial drift around the river, the Exe sea breeze did its best. Posted on 31 Jul 2018
Grafham Cat Open rescheduled
Storm Brian pushes event back to March The Grafham Cat Open that had to be postponed due to Storm Brian has been rescheduled to 17/18 March 2018. Posted on 29 Oct 2017
Hurricane 5.9 Nationals at Pagham
18 teams for 30th Anniversary event 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. Posted on 14 Sep 2017
22nd Forts Race at Whitstable
A weekend of two weather extremes! The 22nd Forts Race Weekend was held on 9th and 10th September at Whitstable Yacht Club. The long-distance catamaran race, sponsored this year by NeilPryde Sailing and Whitstable Marine, was a weekend of two weather extremes! Posted on 12 Sep 2017
New Mainsheet System for Big Cats
A2169/2069 Quint launched by Allen The new Allen A2069/A2169 "Quint" mainsheet system has been developed by the UK performance sailing hardware manufacturer with feedback from Team Allen sailors and the prototype has already won UK and European F18. Posted on 9 Jun 2017
Hurricane 5.9 SX Inlands at Rutland
A great season opener for the class The fourth Hurricane Inland Championships was held at Rutland Sailing club over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May. This event is always popular with Hurricane sailors and this year was no exception with a total of 15 boats Posted on 18 May 2017
40th Bala Catamaran Open
Increased attendance as club breaks with tradition The 40th Bala Catamaran open meeting took place over the May bank holiday weekend, 29th April - 1st May. A total of 17 boats entered, an increase of 6 boats, mainly due to the 4 boats which ventured across the welsh mountains from Tresaith Mariners SC. Posted on 7 May 2017