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Etchells Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy at the Royal Yacht Squadron

by Laurence Mead 27 Jun 10:47 BST 23-24 June 2018
Peter Rogers, Neil Harrison & Ben Cooper win the Etchells Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy © Alex Irwin /

The thing about a big high-pressure system over England during a race weekend (other than the glorious sunshine!) is that there won't be any wind. Well that was partly true during the Royal Yacht Squadron's Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy raced for by the Cowes Etchells fleet over the weekend of June 23rd and 24th, with Sunday being lost because of excessive sunshine and lack of breeze. Saturday however was picture postcard perfect once the sea breeze had locked in after a short delay.

Race one kicked off in 7 to 8 knots and a very competitive fleet of 22 Etchells. Unusually for this fleet the start was a bit ragged with not that many boats on the front row when the gun went. There was a little bit of pin end bias and although the beat looked reasonably even the top third had a definite benefit to being left and it was from that corner that the leaders emerged. Ante Razmilovic (Brian Hammersley and Andrew Mills) took the gun just ahead of Lawrie Smith (Gonçalo Ribeiro, Richard Parslow and Pedro Andrade). In third was regular visitor to the Solent, Hong Kong sailor Marco Pocci with Marty Kaye driving and Andrew "Dog" Palfrey in the middle.

Race 2 saw a lot of bunching at the pin end with Razmilovic and Smith the two most leeward boats. In the end Smith couldn't make the pin with the building tide keeping the boats away from the line. Razmilovic led from the pin and halfway up the beat looked to have a good lead. At one point early on he could have tacked and crossed everybody but he continued left until he was near the middle of the course. Smith who had been forced to gybe out onto port at the pin having failed to lay it, ducked the fleet ending up on the right hand side at the bottom of the beat; halfway up he chose to come back left. At this point fortunes diverged. Despite a 70 meter lead as they crossed behind Razmilovic, his lead was wiped out as a whole group of boats got to his left in the top third of the leg and proceeded to send him back to 15th. The change of fortunes was dramatic.

Having delayed his tack onto port just after the start to get to the middle of the course he was undoubtedly miffed about the huge gains to the left that he missed. Also doing well on the left was Nick Stagg (Matt Reid and Ollie Spensley Corfield) as well as the Peter Rogers,Neil Harrison, Ben Cooper team in Highlife. These two boats got up to 2nd and third by the end. Having missed the pin, ducked the fleet, gone right a bit then hard left Smith and his team worked their way to the front and won by miles.

By now the breeze was building and the fleet were enjoying a solid 12 to 14 knots of south-westerly breeze in solid sunshine. The big difference however was that the flood tide was building so the beats were getting longer and with the windward mark quite far right relative to the bramble bank there were some interesting tidal issues at the top.

Race 3 got underway and the pin was again very popular, this time taken by Nick Stagg and he proceeded to lead the race from the left. Up the first beat all the gains came from the left, David Franks hung out left the hardest and was visibly sailing over the boats to leeward of him. Peter Rogers was also coming from that side and Murray Chappels who had escaped off the start line after a less than stellar start had plenty of clear air and was also able to get to the left.

These four led but the action started when they tacked onto starboard layline for the mark. After a poor tack Chapples realised he couldn't make the mark and was forced to gybe out and ended up 18th after weaving his way through the crowd. Behind him numerous boats ended up head to wind trying to shoot the mark which led to multiple incidents and the windward mark receiving a lot of love from fleet. Although Peter Rogers sailed smoothly away to take the bullet and David Franks retained his third Nick Stagg drifted back during the race finishing 8th but the big casualty was Lawrie Smith who could only post a tenth.

With three races sailed a series was in the bag and the scores were very up-and-down. Quite a few of the leaders had two very good races but a bad one, while Peter Rogers led overall carrying an 8, 3, 1.

On Sunday it was always inevitable that the breeze was going to be very light in the morning and with the high-pressure in charge Peter Rogers had the leader's dilemma of trying to decide whether he really wished for racing or whether he was quite happy to see it drifted off rather than expose his lead to another day of racing. In the end nothing proved possible and when the music stopped and the day was abandoned Peter Rogers, Neil Harrison and Ben Cooper took the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy by a single point from Lawrie Smith who was another three points in front of Marco Pocci.

Of note also was an excellent performance in ninth overall by Will Bedford and his team, the leading youth academy team for the weekend who scored a 6, 9, 14 in a very tough fleet of 22 boats.

Peter Rogers and Highlife now have the satisfaction of seeing their names on the wonderful Trophy and on the board in the Platform at the Royal Yacht Squadron joining such past winners as Razmilovic, Mead, Bedford, Frohlich, Childerley, and Franks.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameHelm & CrewR1R2R3Pts
1  GBR 1441HighlifePeter Rogers / Neil Harrison / Ben Cooper83112
2  GBR 1434AlfieLawrie Smith / Gonçalo Ribeiro / Richard Parslow / Pedro Andrade211013
3  HGK 903Les Freaks Sont Chics/ColinMarco Pocci / Andrew Doggy Palfrey / Martin Henry Kaye36716
4  GBR 1438Swedish Blue (Corinthian)Ante Razmilovic / Brian Hammersley / Andrew Mills114217
5  GBR 1417China WightNicholas Stagg / Matt Reid / Ollie Spensley Corefield92819
6  GBR 1432DesparateRob Tyrwhitt‑Drake / Mark Mansfield / Roger Reynolds741223
7  GBR 1431Strait Dealer 1431David Franks / Graham Sunderland / Mark Lees / Hannah417324
8  GBR 927ShamalWilliam Bedford / Fraser Woodley / Will Birch‑Tomlinson / Ella Bennett681428
9  GBR 1407ICE (Corinthian)Andrew Cooper / Mike Greville / Jack Daniels1412632
10  GBR 1437Exabyte 7Shaun Frohlich / David Bedford / Duncan Truswell1811433
11  GBR 1460Man's Best FriendGrant Simmer / Sam Haines / David Heritage5DSQ533
12  GBR 1266Escape (Corinthian)Matt Hannaby / Ben Palmer / Dicken McLean1551333
13  GBR 1329Stampede (Corinthian)Rob Goddard / Sam Penhaul Smith / Jack Muldon / Diana Kissane12101133
14  AUS 874Silver LiningMurray Chapples / Laurence Mead / Zac Chapples / Wesley Scott1171634
15  GBR 1194Mano (Corinthian)Ellie Cumpsty / Alida Lewis / Emily Au / Annabel Cattermole1791743
16  GBR 1020Sumo (Corinthian)Ted Blowers / James Clemetson / Madeleine Watkins / Patrick Bray10162046
17  GBR 1439Bon VivantStephen Line / Quentin Bes‑Green / Titus Treneman16151546
18  GBR 782PulseMark Spearman / Oli Greber / Tim Carter2218949
19  GBR 1271Ziggy (Corinthian)Andrew Wishart / Alex Curtis / Catherine Cherry / Andrew Clarke13191850
20  GBR 1005Eccentric (Corinthian)Colin MacDonald / Peter Boyd / Matt Tozer / Sherif Serifi20132154
21  GBR 1014Palaver (Corinthian)Montel Fagan‑Jordan / Camilo Orobio / Rob Gullan / Azat Ulutas19211959
22  GBR 1351Chameleon (Corinthian)Louis Kenna / Bruce Walker / Paul Dalton21202263

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