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Noble Marine Solo Winter Championship at King George Sailing Club - Preview

by Will Loy 18 Feb 11:31 GMT 22 February 2020
Always close racing in the Solo class © Will Loy

This Saturday, if the storm systems will allow, sees the resumption of National Solo class racing in the UK following the winter holiday. Well, if the Premiership can do it then so can we.

Solo sailors have returned from sun drenched beaches and snow covered mountain ranges, that's the 'Salcombe' lot done while other athletes attend training camps and Sailjuice events to further hone their bodies for the season ahead. The majority though continue with rehab programmes on various knee, hip and varicose vein operations, all with the hope that they can just step back into the Solo, such is it's allure.

The venue for the Noble Marine event is King George Sailing Club, a reservoir which is apparently peppered with WW2 bombs. A large industrial complex serves as the backdrop and was no doubt the original target for the missiles, close but no cigar. The club itself has a grass roots feel and the volunteers are enthusiastic and warm. Located in Chingford in the north east of the capital, it has great access via the M25 and the round shape allows good course setting from any wind direction other than down. On the odd occasion when a A380 does fly over, the vortex created looks really pretty as it fans across the fleet.

The last time the fleet came here it was Tom Gillard who was victorious, dominating the races and hiking like a Ninja. The pint sized sailor packs a punch, dynamic downwind and flat as a scaffold plank upwind, his angry looking face is always etched with determination. Only when the job is done will he allow himself to mode down to normality. Of the other potential contenders, I guess North stablemate Charlie Cumbley should get a mention. If trophies were awarded as medals then he would have more bling than Kanye West. Dominant in the stronger breeze and carrying possibly 20kgs more than Tom, he may be tempted to join the party for the day. Wind guru is suggesting it will be a brisk 18 knots with some gusts that will need both sublime boat handling and brute force to deal with, Cumbley will not need to hold back on the pie eating pre event.

I understand HD Sails' Andy Davis has a new Solo on order and I always enjoy watching him race. Silky smooth rudder movement, minimal body movement upwind and still the boat is as flat as a Pitta bread. Of the other Pro jockeys, Hyde Sails Richard Lovering will also relish the forecast. He showed his liking for when the going gets tough at Weymouth last year, I predict some more improvement in 2020 if he can just curtail the trips to the ice-cream parlours. P&B's Oliver Davenport impressed last season, following Cumbley around the course in Weymouth and taking the lead at one point before succumbing to a vicious gust at the final gybe mark. He will remember that for a while but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and he will be.

Of the 'Corinthian' division, (non pro) Ireland's Shane McCarthy is one to watch if he makes the long trip across the UK.

Class President Doug Latta is determined to prove he can race and look after one of the largest Class Associations in the UK and I will not argue with him. He led the International fleet in Carnac in the final race and looked very at home there. Chris Brown is as keen now as he has been for 20 years and pops up with major event wins when you least expect it. I will save my words on who did what for the full race report post event.

This is the first qualifying event for the North Sails Super Series 2020. Thanks to North Sails for there continued support of the class and for providing a high bar in the shape of their exceptional sailors for us all to reach.

Noble Marine are our class insurer and get us back onto the water when things go wrong.

Power Works Ltd are providing support to the NSCA, sponsoring the media at some of the major events in 2020.

It's the first Solo event of the year, time to step up to the plate and push forward to achieve your own personal goal.

See you on the water.

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