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Hadron H2 National Championship at Warsash Sailing Club

by Dougal Henshall 6 Jun 2017 10:48 BST 3-4 June 2017
Paul Smalley showing how to sail the tricky top reach during the Hadron H2 Nationals at Warsash © H2 Class

Designer Keith Callaghan must surely have felt a real sense of pride as every single H2 yet built and sailing made the trek down to Warsash Sailing Club for the first ever Nationals in the class.

With a number of new orders currently being fulfilled, by next year an even healthier turn out can be confidently expected, as it was the perfect score was only spoilt by one hull that was recently written off in a road accident. The H2s travelled down from as far afield as Scotland and the North, even though the weather forecast was suggesting that conditions would be getting tricky as the weekend wore on.

It was another matter on the Friday when they arrived on the Hamble River as the sun was beating down on a glassy Solent, but the time spent during the inevitable postponement was well used as the sailors exchanged conversations on line for the real thing. The delay was also useful for local helm Adrian Williams, his new boat had just arrived from the builders with his first sail being in Race 1! By early afternoon the sea breeze had started to build and once sailing finally got underway, it was in sparkling conditions. With some bias on the very long line and a favourable tide, the pin end was the place to be, it was no surprise that the majority of the boats clustered here. It is one of the main USPs for the H2 dinghy that although the hull is strictly one design, a great deal of freedom is allowed in how the boat is fitted out. Like the Merlin Rocket, whose DNA the H2 draws on heavily, the result was very close racing from boats that were set up very differently.

It was hard to get a true reading of how close in speed the boats were, as across the weekend there were some major shifts and variations in pressure. In Race 1, one part of the course was down to 3 kts, whilst elsewhere helms were hiking hard! Once free of the chasing pack, Ian Sanderson would switch into overdrive, going into the record books as the winner of the first ever Championship Race, with Paul Smalley in second place. These two would dominate the event, trading first and second places over the weekend as the breeze continued to build. Saturday was sunny and breezy, Sunday even sunnier but even windier, with some big shifting gusts and a confused Solent sea-state. The trapezoid courses were certainly bringing big smiles to the faces of the sailors, with the bottom reach in particular being talked about in excited terms back on shore.

A clear pecking order had emerged at the front of the fleet with Sanderson and Smalley still trading 1st places, whilst Hipkin and Alexander were still contesting third place. All credit to the Race Team for getting in the final seventh race on Sunday afternoon that would be needed to separate these closely matched competitors. In the strongest winds of the weekend, Chew Valley's Paul Smalley got the vital win that would give him the Championships title, with Ian Sanderson of Keyhaven being so close; both discarded a pair of second places. Boatbuilder Simon Hipkin, who has done so much to make the boats tough good lookers, would claim 3rd place, whilst Michael Alexander, who still had the long journey home to East Lothian in 4th.

With the completion of their first Championship, the H2s can now really claim to be a class and with growing interest in the boat, future events can be even better. It was also a great opportunity for the owners to meet and discuss the set ups on the boat, for the H2 looks to be a boat where individuality, both of helm and boat, will play a big part going forward. For those who only thought of the H2 in terms of it being an old man's boat, the first Champion is a sprightly 33 and even he described the boat as having the potential to be a 'beast in the breeze' – but at the same time, he loved the way the boat handled the conditions... and then there was that bottom reach.

Well done to Warsash, Keith Callaghan, Simon Hipkin, Paul Smalley, Ian Sanderson and all those who sailed for a brilliant long weekend, with new boats arriving the Warsash sun looks set to shine on this boat for the season to come.

Overall Results: (7 races, 2 discards)

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
1st102Paul SmalleyCVLSC ‑21‑211216
2nd111Ian SandersonKeyhaven YC1‑21‑22127
3rd113Simon HipkinWalton & Frinton YC3433(TAL)‑5316
4th108Michael AlexanderEast Lothian YC43‑6444(DNC)19
5th104Ian DawsonWarsash SC‑76466‑7426
6th105Dick HoldenArun YC (TAL)5‑8853728
7th101Peter WrightS Windemere SC5‑85‑976528
8th103Geoff ParkerWalton & Frinton YC‑8775(TAL)8633
9th109Nigel CowanChichester YC10(DNF)97(DNF)DNCDNC54
10th106Kevin ConnollyDeben YC 9910(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC56
11th112Paul NurserChew Valley Lake SC1210(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNC64
12th107Keith CallaghamBurghfield SC11(DNF)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC67
13th114Adrian WillamsWarsash SC(DNF)(DNF)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC70

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