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Cadet 2017 Season in Review Part 1

by Neil Collingridge 26 Sep 2017 15:30 BST 26 September 2017
Start line in a breezy Burnham on Crouch Cadet selector © Roger Mant Photography

As the temperature starts to drop and the days gets shorter the Cadet Class looks back over what has been as usual an exciting 2017.

Worlds Selectors

The packed season got going with the world team selector series over 3 weekends at WPNSA, Parkstone and Burnham on Crouch.

The first of these in Weymouth was convincingly won by Cara Bland and Ines Green who stormed out of the blocks with four first places and a second to count. Second were Megan Ferguson and Ollie Mears and third, Bettine (Bee) Harris and Sam Goult.

On to Parkstone and a shifty wind - up and down sort of weekend - again saw Cara and Ines win from this time Hattie and Hamish Collingridge with Megan and Ollie third.

For the final selector it was off to Burnham - the spiritual home of the Cadet Class. Day 1 saw some really windy conditions and wind over tide kicking up a lot of waves and as a result quite a few sailors tested the water temperatures. With the second day in contrast cancelled for no wind it was Megan and Ollie winning the event with Bee and Sam second and Ryan and Antonia Wilkinson third.

World Championships in the Netherlands

So after 15 races the Neilson GBR World Cadet Team was selected for the championships in Bruinisee later in the summer - 7 boats ready to do battle against the best cadet sailors on the Planet.

As we set off on our travels the excitement was tinged with considerable sadness however. As a result of illness, Cara Bland and her crew Ines Green had to relinquish their place in the Neilson GBR Cadet World Team. Having dominated much of the qualifying series and finished first they were certainly one of the fancied pairings for the Worlds. As a result Faye Chatterton and Amelia Mayhew took their place in the Worlds team up against 65 boats from 11 countries from as far afield as Argentina, Australia, Russia, Ukraine plus all the usual European suspects.

GBR also had considerable strength in depth in the Promotional regatta where we were the largest team in the Promo fleet with GBR 19 of the 55 boats from all over the World.

The racing in Bruinisee was tough. Some massive shifts to contend with in predominantly light conditions, as well as some somewhat debatable race management issues - like the controversial chucking out a race 18 hours after it had finished. Has the subsequent request for redress from the now renamed Race 6(a) actually finished yet?

In the Worlds fleet, in truth, team GBR didn't perform as they had so splendidly just 6 months earlier in Argentina. There were some glorious moments - a big practice race lead by Bee and Sam and Megan and Ollie winning Race 7 were standouts, but our sailors struggled for consistency throughout.

On the other hand GBR's Promo fleet sailors were on fire with multiple possibilities going into the final day. The following is the last day blog which recalls the excitement:

"We waited ashore under postponement with no wind and it didn't look like it would come. In the Worlds no race would give the championship to the Poles, Eryk and Kinga Martynko but if the 12th race was sailed the Argentinians Teo and Ana Tecchin were just 3 points behind. Only one more race in the Worlds to sort out the winner.

In the Promos GBR's Rosie Target and Sophia Sfaxi were a point ahead of the Aussie - Promo Pete and also Harry Chatterton and Ines Green. Back in fourth 10 points adrift were Anna Wootten and Imogen Mayhew. They all potentially had two races to come.

Drama was indeed to come.

We towed everyone out in no wind and still racing looked unlikely until a frail sea breeze started down the track. Game on!

The Worlds fleet started clean although Hattie and Mish misjudged the pin and were buried gybing round the back. Bee Harris with Sam Goult had a cracking first beat and rounded 4th with a couple of others from GBR well up. At the front the third placed Argentinian Santiago led from Second placed Teo with Eryk looking in considerable trouble back in the teens. But we've seen the speed than Eryk is capable of in his 20 something year old boat which looks like it's used for beginner training and weighs 10kgs over. He and Kinga started their magic picking off boats one by one down the run, up the second beat and then rounded the final top mark in 10th.

Back down the run and at the gate there were too many places between him and Teo (still 2nd) who looked to have things wrapped up. Then at the gate another Argentinian boat ahead of Eryk decided to have a big luffing match with Bee Harris allowing the Pole through and past to leeward so that suddenly one more boat to pass and he was just 3 places behind Teo.

Did the Argentinians not like each other we were asking? Eryk got that 1 more place up the final half beat to the finish to end equal points with Teo after 12 races but with an extra race win on countback. Job done all in the last 5 minutes of the championship.

Over to the Promos. More drama to unfold...

Race 1 of a possible 2 and it's Anna and Imogen fast out of the traps up the beat on the inner loop. They round first with Rosie and Sophia third, ahead of the Aussie by a couple and with Harry and Ines quite a bit further back and their hopes fading. Round they go and everyone following the GBR / AUS battle with Rosie coming out on top in 3rd, 1 place ahead of Promo Pete.

Lots of spectators wondering if they'll bother with a 12th race for the Promos now the Worlds fleet have finished their complement and headed in... there is time, though after the trials and tribulations of the race management earlier in the week who would have been surprised if he had had enough.

Race 12 it is then - still the focus on Rosie versus Promo Pete - 2 points in it.....but what's this? Off the start Anna and Imogen storming away into another lead - quick check on the points, they need to finish 8 ahead of Rosie, 6 ahead of the Aussie, both of whom are back in the teens... suddenly it's game on again. Round the second windward, both Connor Lines and Libby Bush and Angus Collingridge and Emilia Green right up there, Anna now with a healthy lead, Rosie in 10th in front of the Aussie back in 17 but on a charge going low down the reach and gaining all the while.

Down the run it looked like Rosie might have gained two places - perhaps enough to get there, but then towards the bottom she had dropped back a couple. Some thinking she was still ahead of the Aussie thought that was enough but no... the mathematicians had it correct with Anna and Imogen winning the race and with it the Promo title and Rosie missing out by just 2 points. What a finale."

For the record, GBR in the Worlds had 10th (Megan Ferguson and Ollie Meers), 13th (Bee Harris and Sam Goult), 17th (Hattie and Mish Collingridge), 25th (Ryan and Antonia Wilkinson), 31st (Faye Chatterton and Amelia Mayhew), 41st (Emily Speirs and Rosie Voyantzis) and 43rd (Amy and Ben Goult).

In the Promos GBR sailors took 7 of the top 10: Anna Wootton and Imogen Mayhew (1), Rosie Targett and Sophia Sfaxi (2) Harry Chatterton and Ines Green (4), Charlotte Videlo and Tom shepherd (7) Angus Collingridge and Emilia Green (8) Phoebe Bradshaw and Mimi Slump (9) and Kate White and Rhona Enkel (10).

Everyone acquitted themselves well in what was a tough, tough event. Lessons learned by the sailors, and hopefully also by the organisers who one suspects might reflect on the consistency of their performance too.