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International 14 'Hoptons' at Itchenor Sailing Club

by Katie Nurton 7 Aug 2019 11:07 BST 3-4 August 2019

At this time of year, the question on every 14 sailor's mind is how to win the Prince of Wales Cup. Last weekend, with less than a month to go, there were various options for last-minute preparation.

A large contingent opted for the Fastnet race, some were at George and Sophie Yeoman's wedding and only the least imaginative/uninvited chose the "Hoptons" open meeting at Itchenor. Only time will tell which option was most effective in building the speed, stamina and seamanship needed to win the POW cup.

Saturday was a test of focus, navigation and seaweed management. After sailing out of Chichester harbour against the tide and drifting for an hour or two on the Winner bank eating muesli bars, we eventually retreated into the harbour for a long round-the-cans race won by Neale Jones and Ed FItzgerald. Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait used their superior harbour knowledge to hold onto 2nd while everyone else fought it out in a dying breeze and strong ebb tide.

On Sunday, we made it out of the harbour for a proper championship-sized course, perfect for tuning shaky back legs and powers of concentration. A large shift created some happy winners and big losers at the first mark, with Julian Pearson and Rich Sheridan leading by a long distance, followed by Philip McDanell and Luke Boughton. Over the next hour, in an unstable breeze, Neale and Ed slowly clawed their way back to the front, with Julian and Rich in second.

For the final race, the breeze got up and the sun came out and we enjoyed "champagne sailing" if not real Champagne. Neale and Ed crossed the fleet on port and led to the finish, while Katie Nurton & Chris Watson scraped through to second after Dan Holman & Alex Knight were wrestled into the water by an identified sea monster.

Neale and Ed were worthy winners of the Hoptons trophies, with Katie and Chris just edging out Julian and Rich. Neale and Ed currently look like the firm favourites for the Prince of Wales Cup, pending detailed analysis of the Fastnet and the wedding hangovers.

In the rankings there has been more movement in the top 10 with Douglas & Mark stretching away from the chasing pack, an absence form the last couple of events has seen Andy & Rob slide down the rankings from a very strong start to the year. The top 10 now sees some new competitors after a great showing Katie has moved up to 8th from 11th as well as strong showings from Andy & Chris as well as Robin & Martin in recent weeks. Next event - the big one, POW, this will be a double pointer, we will have points awarded for the week as well as the race and with both events classed as a grade one and a great turnout expected this will be sure to mix up the rankings! The action kicks off from the 26th August in Falmouth!

PosHelm & CrewPts
1Neale Jones & Ed FitzGerald687
2Douglas Pattison & Mark Tait413
3Archie Massey & Harvey Hillary307
4Andy FitzGerald & Rich Dobson272
5Dan Holman & Alex Knight264
6Julian Pearson230
7Andy Shaw & Rob Struckett213
8Katie Nurton208
9Andy Penman & Chris Watson165
10Robin Pascal & Martin Pascal164

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