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AGISEN Match Race 4000 event at Rutland Sailing Club

by Tim Litt 4 Apr 2016 16:21 BST February 2016

In late February the first full trial of the AGISEN Match Race 4000 event proved to be a great success despite strong breezes with bitterly cold bite.

Based on an initiative by Tim Litt, the AGISEN Match Race 4000 is a project with the objective of providing easy access to high performance dinghy racing and to encourage higher levels of participation. Tim has acquired and renovated two abandoned 4000 hulls and in addition to personal investment Tim has secured sponsorship from Rooster Sailing, Hyde Sails, Selden Masts and The Rutland Chandlery. As the 4000 is a one design and the boats have been set up to have identical rigs, the two boats form an ideal match racing pair.

Together with the support of Steve Tylecote, a novel and innovative racing format has been formulated. Inspired by team racing and based around Americas Cup style racing six helm/crew teams take turns to match race each other on windward-leeward courses. Points are scored for race wins and a novel bonus points system is employed to encourage good sportsmanship by virtue of a self-policing penalty system. The event has the primary objective of providing maximum fun through participation in addition to the strong underpinning of competition.

Members of Rutland Sailing Club were invited to be the Guinea pigs with the support of a few 4000 class association sailors who provided expert help. Helms and crew pairs were combined from those familiar with 4000 and those not so familiar to provide six teams having balanced ability and crew weight advantage.

A spectator friendly course was set in an area between the main pontoons and the fishing lodge. With a reaching start to the leeward mark of a compact windward-leeward course, the competitors sailed 2 laps before reaching back to finish through the start-finish line. Full competitor participation was achieved by a rotation system that required all teams to take turns umpiring, racing, start-finishing and results entry – providing an "Event for the sailors, run by the sailors."

Saturday saw the completion of a complete round-robin with all teams sailing 5 races each. Despite the firm breeze providing some limitation on the ability of boats to engage in close pre-start manoeuvres, this didn't stop Steve Tylecote and Harry Litt finding several opportunities to hold opposition boats off the line. These early gains proved decisive leaving Steve and Harry in controlling positions for most of their races.

After a hard days racing the sailors made their way to Spoons in Oakham for a well-earned debrief involving food, plenty of beer and to celebrate Steve's 50th birthday.

The wind shifted towards the North on Sunday and increased in strength providing 18-24 knots from the dam wall giving rise to a fair chop. The stronger and colder breeze didn't stop Andy McKee and Jon Dixon joining in and getting back into 4000s after many years out. After a few early capsizes Jon and Andy started to display the level of competency normally associated with established skiff sailors.

After 2 days of racing the combination of Harry's athleticism and Birthday Boy's boat handling and tactics proved too good for the rest of the teams leaving them with a clean sweep of results closely followed by Dave Marchant and Alex Litt. From the positive responses and feedback given, the conclusion to be drawn from this trial event is that we have devised a fun and interesting format that has left all the sailors egger for the next event.

Event sponsors: AGISEN (specialist engineering), Rooster Sailing, Hyde Sails, Selden Mast, and The Rutland Chandlery.

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