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UKLA ILCA 7 Nationals - Stories from the Fleet: Norman Struthers

by Norman Struthers 31 Aug 2020 07:30 BST 24-26 August 2020

Norman Struthers, a Canadian and member of Stokes Bay Sailing Club (UK), has been training hard over the last few months. Competing in the fiercely competitive ILCA7 Nationals 2020 in Weymouth Norman made it into the top 10. Here he brings to life an on-the-water moment...

I'm Norman, better known as the Canadian in the UK ILCA 7 fleet (although now one of 2 Canadians with Ben Flower joining me). This week's racing in the ILCA 7 fleet was hotly contested with many keen to show off the hard work they had done since Quarantine started in March. This excitement led to tight and dramatic racing throughout the racecourse. I wanted to highlight just one of these moments throughout the week, which happened in the first race of the final day of racing (R4). After a rest day due to Storm Francis winds stayed high and from the west, leading to shifty conditions that gave the experienced masters the opportunity to use their knowledge to challenge the hiking legs of the younger sailors. This all culminated in the final downwind of Race #4.

Coming around the final windward the battle for 9th place was on. 5 boats, including Krishan Bhogal, Jake Farren-Price and myself fought with the leading masters: Mark Lyttle and Nick Harrison. Mid-way down the run it was anyone's best guess who would round ahead, with the group dead even and fighting for positioning. Things became even more interesting when the infamous Ben Flower, who had rounded in 7th and was ahead of the group hit "a massive jellyfish or seaweed or something" which lead to his boat stopping in its tracks and death rolling. Righting his boat just ahead of the charging group behind him, he was swallowed up and it turned into a 6-way battle for 8th position.

Entering the leeward mark, Mr. Flower and myself were just able to edge ahead of the group behind us in the battle for buoy room, leading into what would be a hotly contested final reach for positions. The reach was on, with each of the competitors giving their last bit of energy to collect some ever-important points. Unfortunately, I got a little too excited, earning myself a yellow flag on the reach to fall out of the group and lose some valuable places. Ben Flower was able to hold his lead on the group and steal 8th place, with Jake Farren-Price just behind in 9th, followed by Nick Harrison who just edged out the young (and long) legs of Krishan, and finally by Mark Lyttle.

Although tough and often frustrating at the time, battles like these are what make ILCA sailing what it is. The final result comes down to the decisions and effort put in by the sailors. These situations are what make sailing so enjoyable and light the fire to work harder and learn from these positions. I want to thank all of the competitors for coming out and competing throughout the event, making each sailor work their tail off to get ahead of the other. A big thank you to the Masters Sailors like Nick and Mark who showed us younger sailors what experience in sailing can do, and to Elliot Hansen and Micheal Beckett for giving us a great show of just how much you can get out of an ILCA. And finally, a big thank you to the Race Committee, organizers and volunteers that made this event run so smoothly no matter what challenge was thrown at them. A special hats off to Paul Jackson RO and his team - this was a perfectly run event!

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