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Hornet National Championship at Stone Sailing Club - Runners & Riders

by Tom Guy 16 Aug 2019 12:13 BST 17-20 August 2019
Toby and Andy at the finish of race 5 with Radio Caroline in the background during the 2015 Stone Hornet Open © Jon Williams

Only one day to go before the start of the RYA National Hornet class championships hosted by Stone Sailing club within the River Blackwater estuary in deepest, darkest Essex (17-20th August).

The forecast looks challenging with plenty of breeze to keep competitors on their toes. And as ever, this promises to be a highly contested affair featuring many past winners and top sailors competing for the crown of National Champions.

In addition to the top prize, the fleets will be competing for an extensive list of trophies including the famed Haggis trophy (mixed crew), the Tiger's head (Juniors), the 4-pint Contech Tankard (Combination series) provided by local ex-hornet sailor Simon Wakefield. The winners get to fill the tankard to its brim with their favourite tipple. Last but not least, "Strangler" will be presenting the alternative prizes, our equivalent of the Darwin awards, as part of the ritual humiliation of sailors who should know better. Don't get too excited his budget for 10 prizes is limited to £10! This will be the last event before the class adopts its new size spinnaker as agreed at last year's AGM. Finally we will be able to fully ultilise our full length 2.5m poles (available as single double-ended, single flyway, twin self setting, aluminium or carbon - whatever takes your fancy).

Amongst the many contenders a few stand out (and not only for their sailing ability, but that's another story):

Richard Garry and Sam Woolner

Current Europeans champions. Always consistent across the wind range but this year reputed to be carrying a little less weight in the saddle. The big question though, have they managed to get their new steed up to speed?

This year their new ride comes fresh from the SP Boats stable and sports a particularly interesting paint job. The jury is still out as to whether it was inspired by Jackson Pollack or there was an accident in the paint shop....

Chris Bines & Dave Gibbons

Last year's runners-ups by a mere 3 points in the 10 race series. This local combination could be the one to watch, with decades of experience on the tricky Blackwater conditions. As a past hornet world, European and national championship, Chris certainly has the temperament to challenge for the front.

Nigel Skudder & Keith Hills

Nigel and Keith have developed the good habit of always featuring in the top 5 at the championships. This year they finished as top boat at this year's popular Exe regatta, beating our current Euro winners. So, we know they are up to speed, do they have the legs for this year's event? The tricky tides at Stone combined with a bit of breeze may affect their consistency. More importantly, will Nigel be hitting the dance floor again or saving his energy for the big breezes?

Trevor Curtis & Kevin Francis

After losing his crown at the Osprey championships at Mount Bay, he will be looking to make amends with the Hornets. Last year this Castle Cove combo showed good speed throughout the week and managed a bullet in race 4. Has been very quiet this season, but you always have to keep an eye on the quiet ones.

Dave Edge and Martin Arnison

Another pair of ex-champions that are looking to improve on their recent disappointing results. News from the west country suggest that they have been training hard getting their boat, Mucky Mutt (I think that it was it is called...) up to full speed. Rumoured to be sporting a new mylar genoa.: At least they will be able to see where they are going.

'Strangler' and Pippa Rogers

One-time championship winner, but many time runnerup. Always seems to manage to sniff out that extra little breeze on the opposite side of the course to you! Might be trying to find a little less wind on Saturday. Never to be written off!

Toby Barsley-Dale & Richard Nurse

Started so well last year with 1, 2, 2 but couldn't maintain the consistency when compared with their 2017 results (3rd overall). They should thrive in the strong breeze.

Tim Coombe and James Beer

Another duo with a good record of championship race wins over the years but to date the title has been beyond their grasp. Sailing a beautifully restored wooden GBR 2077 with full length tanks, they have been putting together some good results at their home club, Starcross. Expect to see their results improve as the wind drops over the 4 days.

Alistair McLaughlin & Mark Taylor

The flying Scots are in town! Assuming they are not jet lagged from their epic journey from the far north (all 425 miles) expect some top 3 placings. Storky and Mark were first introduced to the class via the class boat before taking the plunge and purchasing GBR2157.

Mark & Paul Dell

Potentially a team that could cause a real upset at the front of the fleet. In their beautifully fitted out Coombe boat, they had moments of great speed last year, but combined with a touch of inconsistency. Mark was main organizer at last year's championship at his home club, Thorpe Bay - no such distractions (excuses) this time.

Michael McNamara + one

Last but certain not least we have the sailing legend, Mike Mac. Reputed to have won at least one major championship every year for the past 50 years! Having just returned from winning a very windy Wayfarer championships in Ireland, Mike will be keen to make amends for last year's disappointing result at Colwyn Bay. No more needs to be said...

The also runs

Although we prefer to be referred to as the potential dark horses, we know who we are. We may be competing for the minor places interspersed by the occasional result in the top ten if we are lucky, but the competition remains fierce. Hopefully there will be a few surprises especially with the expected weather. Keep up to date on the class website and Facebook pages for results.

Good racing to all! With thanks to our sponsor Exe Sails.

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