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Squib 50th Anniversary Nationals Runners & Riders at Lendy Cowes Week

by Vincent Delany 3 Aug 2018 15:00 BST 4-11 August 2018
Squibs racing at Cowes © Steve Baker

Winning the Squib Nationals is never easy. Winning in any 100 boat fleet takes special qualities, particularly in Cowes. This observer has been involved with the Squib fleet for over ten years and has a good knowledge of the scene. Undoubtedly, the winner of the Squib Championship will come from the elite end of the fleet, from a team which acknowledges that crewing a Squib is not a physical endeavour, it is a mental one.

This year the East Coast Championship was won by Nigel and Jack Grogan from Burnham in No. 105 'Helmut Shoing II.' They have great tactical skill and, being sailmakers, are experts in changing gear as conditions change with their Hyde Sails. I believe their greatest strength is in wind strengths between 9 and 16 knots. However, I would ask the question, is their starting ability enough to get them into the front row of every start?

The local Royal Victoria YC team of Stu Rix and Steve Warren-Smith in the 50 year old No. 13, 'Aquabat' have won Cowes Week, but have never won a Squib National Championship, but they have got progressively closer over the past few years. I believe that their skill of starting in big fleets in Cowes, and their local knowledge could take them to the top.

Never to be overlooked is many times Squib champions, Josh Metcalf and Mark Hogan in No. 136, 'Ric O'Shea.' Like Warren-Smith, here, the boat owner is crewing, and the helmsman is just the guy who looks at the tell-tales! Josh and Mark with their Batt sails excel in strong winds, particularly over 20 knots. Is this the weather we can expect as a high pressure weather system approaches.

Last year in Holyhead, joint winner, who lost out on the countback was sailmaker Dick Batt and Pam Phelan from Batt Sails in the oldest Squib afloat, No. 11, 'Squib'. This team could rise to the top if the wind strength does not rise above 14 knots. Dick won this championship previously, in the days when he had long hair and bell-bottom trousers!

Not to be forgotten is dark horse Colm Dunne from Kinsale, Ireland who last weekend won the Irish East Coast Championship in No. 134, 'Allegro'. Colm seems to prefer a good breeze, and the huge 100 boat fleet might not suit him. Will his lack of experience in Cowes be a problem to him?

The Squib Class have approved Rondar as their new boat builder. Paul Young from that company will be sailing in one of the new self-draining boats, no. 901, 'Shy Talk.' Does he have the ability to win. Many Squib owners will be watching this space. My belief is that the self-draining qualities of the boat are more significant in exposed locations such as Abersoch or Lowestoft.

Paul Young and Rondar have recently competed a 'hybrid' Squib which involves putting the self-draining cockpit into an existing hull. David Lloyd's No. 33 'Incendio' is the first boat to be completed, and race results this year show her to be quicker than previously.

In conclusion, I think we can expect different race winners in each of the races, so consistency in achieving top eight placings will be vital, and the avoidance of OCSs. The wind strength may well be a significant factor, because stronger winds bring different boats to the top. Will we have a surprise winner, probably not!

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