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Battle of the Classes at the Southampton Boat Show 2015

by Simon Lovesey 15 Sep 2015 21:21 BST 13 September 2015

The 2015 Battle of the Classes held at the Southampton Boat Show saw entries from 31 dinghy classes and a star studded cast, including 6 current National Champions and many top sailors, all battling it out to see who would be top.

Thanks to the support of Southampton Water Activities Centre (SWAC) the fleet gathered at their Itchen Bridge Centre, early on Sunday.

PRO Edwin Buckley and the Royal Corinthian YC team set a challenging course with a start just off the Boat Show Marina, to maximise spectator opportunities for the show crowds. SailRacer provided commentary to the showground and online coverage, with several thousands watching the live race online.

The Battle of the Classes is a 100 minute pursuit race, with Toppers setting off first at 13.00 through to the International 14s, starting 42 minutes later. The Toppers enjoyed a class Battle, with 2015 National Champion Eleanor Poole battling closely with fellow classmate Joseph Drake at their start. Eleanor made history this summer by becoming the first ever female to win the 200 boat Topper Nationals. By the time the next boats had started, 15 minutes later, Joseph had opened up a 40 second lead on Eleanor.

Joseph was able to maintain his lead over the whole fleet for 70 of the 100 minute race, eventually being overtaken by top 2000 sailors Simon Horsfield and Alex Pickles from the Army Sailing Association (ASA) and the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA).

The increasing breeze, gusting over 15 kts and a course with a 0.5 mile reach along the opposite Hythe shore, started to favour the faster asymmetric boats. First to benefit were the 29ers, starting 32 minutes after the Toppers. 2015 UK Champions, James Grummett and Daniel Budden made the most of the conditions, flying past many of the slower boats, regularly hitting 15 kts on the SailRacer trackers.

With ten minutes to go to the race finish, the 29er Champions were out in the lead and looking to make history by the being the youngest winners of this prestigious Race. But the youngsters moment of fame was short lived, when the International 14 of multiple World Champion Archie Massey and former Olympic sailor Harvey Hillary, starting 10 minutes after the 29er and a massive 42 minutes after the Toppers, gave a master class in Skiff sailing, regularly hitting 18+ kts and making the rest of the fleet look like they were stationary.

At the 100 minute gun it was the International 14 of Archie Massey and Harvey Hillary, ahead of 29er James Grummett and Daniel Budden, with the Osprey of Terry Curtis and Peter Greig taking a solid third, after several boats were disqualified for missing buoys. The 29er pair won the prestigious Yachts & Yachting Youth Award.

The Battle of the Classes also started the next round of the new Musto Speed Challenge, which saw the 2000 pair of Simon Horsfield and Alex Pickles top the Speed Wall on adjusted speeds and win £1,000 of great MUSTO Dinghy Kit. 29er sailors James Grummett and Daniel Budden took the second spot and the RS500 of Ian Mairs and Tally Watson completed the podium. Blaze sailor, Mike Lyons, who won Round One of the Musto Speed Challenge from over 400 competitors, didn't favour the tricky conditions and finished in 16th place on this Speed Wall.

The Battle of the Classes is an annual showcase of UK Dinghy sailing. With thanks to the support of RCYC, SailRacer, SWAC and of course the Southampton Boat Show, which will be open until Sunday 23 September.

See the results on the event website: Battle.SailRacer.org

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