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Zhik UK Cadet Class Worlds Team Qualifier at Pevensey Bay Sailing Club

by Neil Collingridge 3 Jun 2018 20:25 BST 26-28 May 2018

It's just not possible to make enough of the welcome the Cadet Class received from Pevensey Bay Sailing Club over the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend.

With the bar doing a roaring trade, the galley flat out, their members suspending their own sailing to launch and recover the fleet, camping on site (the Dutch pitch their tents on top of their cars presumably fearing a leak in the dyke) - the club even put on the mother of all fireworks displays (aka midnight Electrical Storm) and arranged wall to wall sun during daylight hours heralding the arrival of a sea breeze to allow the full complement of races to be sailed. What's not to like?

As foretold there were places for the 7 strong GBR Cadet Worlds Team up for grabs at this final event of the qualifiers and also as predicted, things were to go right to the wire. Inevitably the boats just outside the top 7 were disappointed but hearing from a number of them that they intended to go to Germany to win the Promotional Regatta instead rather lifted the spirits - yes they are hugely competitive, but they do it for fun too and for the friendships for life that are forged in the Cadet Class.

The British fleet was joined for the event by a number of competitors for the Netherlands and Belgium to give the event something of an international flavour and to get a feel for where we are against some of the competition. Probably the gentle wake up call that we needed.

With decent breeze forecast for Saturday and rather less for Sunday, Arky our PRO sent the fleet afloat into a decent 14 knot northeaster with the instruction that he was looking to get 4 races in to get ahead of the weather. Only the completion of 6 races over the weekend would bring in the third discard for the qualifying series and so get a few sailors out of jail at the death.

The first race got away after a bit of confusion over the identity of the pin end with Thibaud Drixit and Lore Stroobandt leading up the beat and pulling away from Faye Chatterton and Oscar Bush and Ethan Davey and Alex Enkel. By the second round Faye was leading Ethan and Thibaud but after some shortened course confusion with S flag raised then dropped (!) the fleet continued to complete the full race with Thibaud again back in the lead and taking the win from Faye with Angus Collingridge and Ed Fletcher finishing strongly in third.

Regatta fleet with 6 boats swelled by the growing Pevensey Bay Cadet fleet saw Jessica Watling and Hannah Caruthers take the win from Sam Goult and Sarah McEwan with Ben Goult and Alex McEwan.

By race 2 the breeze was building and kicking up a decent chop - Angus led off the pin and got to the top ahead of Thibaud and Charlotte Videlo crewed by Tom Shepherd but in the building waves the Belgian was noticeably faster down the reach to move ahead and extend almost at will. By the finish it was Thibaud, Angus and Charlotte in that order. Regatta fleet sees Sam take the win from Jessica and Ben. Good to see the Pevensey boats - Saul Harwin and Max Tullett, Ella Hebron and Christopher Corke and Isa Taylor Matter and Darcey Thomas all having a good go in quite challenging conditions.

Race 3 still windy with some decent gusts occasionally up to 20 knots. At the windward Hazel Whittle and Gwen Thorogood lead from Angus, Thibaud and then Cally Terkelson with Phoebe Barr. Down the reach and Angus has rolled Hazel with quite a few struggling with kites on the gybe mark. Ethan moves up to third and they round the leeward mark in that order. Normal service is resumed as the Belgian takes Angus upwind - apparently with the weight slightly more central fore and aft and avoiding the hobby horses on the bigger waves. He takes the win again seemingly with relative ease from Angus and Rosie Target and Sophia Sfaxi in third. Regatta fleet by now is reduced to 4 boats as the conditions start to take their toll on some of the less experienced - same finishing order as previously; Sam from Jessica and Ben.

On to the 4th race of the day - some of the crews getting a bit tired but pretty much everyone coping and virtually no capsizes to deal with for the rescue crews. At the first windward its a touch monotonous at the front - Thibaud from Angus, this time with Eli Watling and George Little giving chase. Thibaud pulls out impressively down the reach with the Brits scrapping with each other at the gybe and Eli, Charlotte and Katie Yelland and Dom Rowell all passing Angus until at the second leeward mark Angus splits to the biased left hand gate and picks up a big left hand shift to pull back to second and only just behind Thibaud... to no avail; it's those two in first and second at the finish with Charlotte in third. Almost as consistent is Sam in the Regatta fleet rounding out his tally for the day with a third win from Jessica and Sam's twin Ben.

So on to Sunday and some nervous sailors who have done the maths overnight on the qualifying positions. As ever after the first three boats the rest are too close to call and almost certainly discards will come in to play after just 2 more races.

In race 5 we get 8 knots of sea breeze from the South - the opposite of the previous day so now the beats are with the tide, the start lines are seeing boats pushed over early and there's a big risk of over standing the marks and sailing the big bananas (Note to Sailors: if we can predict what's about to happen from a rib, so can you from your battleboats!). And so it goes - a general recall or two has Arky producing his Uniform flag and instilling a bit of decorum such that Angus leads at the windward from Charlotte and Faye who despite insisting she's through with Cadets doesn't seem to have entirely given up on seeing Bodstedt, Germany this summer. Then a split down the reach some going high - for those in front that seems to pay, and some going low - for those behind ditto... but with a horrible bundle having to run down into the gybe mark so slowly against the tide. Urgh! Angus opting for the rhumb line gets blanketed from behind and Charlotte moves ahead by some distance with Thibaud finding conditions less to his liking down in the pack and part of a leeward mark scrum which wouldn't have looked out of place at the Rugby Premiership Final. Lots of overstanding the second and third windward marks (urgh again) but the top 3 stays as is with Charlotte winning from Angus and Faye. Regatta fleet same as before: Sam, Jessica and Ben at the finish.

With Thibaud rather slower in the light stuff, the overall result is still in doubt for Race 6. He sails Angus down the fleet up the first beat but need not have bothered as the latter is caught OCS with one other identified and pulled out at the windward mark, and one other lucky one getting away with it as the sail number is taken down wrong (we know who you are !). Back at the front, Charlotte leads from start to finish, sister Rebecca Videlo and Ned Fairhurst chasing all the way round to finish with a "sisters doing it for themselves" one, two. Third is Katie Yelland. Sam, Jessica and Ben once more in Regatta Fleet, all 6 off whom will have taken away lots of learnings from the weekend.

So all of that leaves Thibaud and Lore winning the Clemenson Nautilus Trophy by one point from Angus and Ed with Charlotte and Tom third. Regatta Fleet is won by Sam and Sarah from Jessica and Hannah with Ben and Alex third.

Back ashore the drama of the weekend is not yet finished. In the peleton some sailors have clearly been feeling the pressure and have made heavy weather of trying to qualify for the GBR World Team. Very few have been consistent, a few have had races they'd rather forget, some have done turns, others have been on a charge (Faye and Oscar most noticeably who haven't been in the top 7 at any time through the series before the final day) and a drawn out arbitration and then protest leaves plenty of time to relax (really?) in the sunshine on the terrace overlooking Pevensey Bay. Finally the team is announced in descending order from first to seventh and the tension mounting. Those missing out will bounce back to have their day again in the future - everyone should be proud of just how hard fought the selector series has been.

Overall Results:

2018 GBR Cadet Worlds Team:

  • Angus Collingridge and Ed Fletcher
  • Charlotte Videlo and Tom Shepherd
  • Hazel Whittle and Gwen Thorogood
  • Connor Line and Toby Bush
  • Eli Watling and George Little
  • Faye Chatterton and Oscar Bush
  • Lia Fletcher and Mish Collingridge

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