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Hadron H2 Solent Trophy at Warsash Sailing Club

by Keith Callaghan 23 May 2021 20:40 BST 21-23 May 2021
Fast reaching during the Hadron H2 Solent Trophy at Warsash © Keith Callaghan

With the relaxation of COVID lockdown regulations from May 17th, the scene was set for the long-awaited first 2021 open meeting of the Hadron H2 class, in conjunction with their close cousins, the Hadron H1s.

The venue, Warsash Sailing Club, has a special resonance for the H2s as it was the location of their first National Championships, in 2017, when every H2 then built was present. The 2021 event proved just as popular, as the entry of 18 made it the largest H2 open meeting to date.

The event was to span 3 days, with Friday (21 May) being an on-water training day, run by our National Champion, Ian Sanderson. But the weather gods have been somewhat belligerent of late and the forecast looked truly ominous, with the strongest winds in the entire northern hemisphere due to slam into the Solent on the Friday. Sure enough, winds exceeding 50 knots were recorded locally, so Ian rapidly devised a socially-distanced 'chalk and talk' session in the clubhouse. This proved to be a very instructive session and was followed up by an equally illuminating 'A Level' presentation from David Henshall on the Racing Rules. So the day was by no means wasted!

Three races were scheduled for the following day, but with another ominous forecast for Sunday the Race Officer, Peter Knight, decided to try for 4 races back-to back. With a 2 mile haul out to the race area, it was going to be a long day! The forecast was for generally light winds but with the pressure building later in the day. The first race began in an 8-10 knot breeze and right from the gun it was Richard Leftley, sailing his brand new H2 in eye-catching 'Gulf Oil' livery, who led the pack up the first beat. Richard is one of the heavier H2 helms but he increased his lead on the off-wind legs also - this new boat was fast! Behind him there was intense competition from the usual regular suspects plus two or three newcomers to the class and there was a lot of place changing, due partly to the wind becoming somewhat variable in strength and direction. Robin Parsons finally led the pack home behind Richard Leftley with newcomer to the class Richard Le Mare doing well to take third and local hot-shot Ian Dawson in fourth.

The wind was even more variable in the second race and tended to lighten as the race progressed. Richard Leftley was now getting into his stride and he opened up a long lead even as the wind lessened. On the final reach of the trapezoid course the wind fell off to near zero but Richard won with river sailor Robin Parsons again in second place, new H2 owner Barry Wolfenden in third, and local helm Adrian Williams in fourth place. The later finishers looked like taking forever to finish as the wind was now zero, so the RO raised the W flag.

Then there was a hiatus as the wind made up its mind what to do next. With every minute's delay, the possibility of 4 races was vanishing. Then eyes turned towards the Island and vessels could be seen moving rapidly. The wind filled in, stronger than ever, and the third race got under way. Richard Leftley must have been supremely confident at this stage that he would chalk up his third win, as he excels in the stronger breezes. But today he had met his match. Richard Le Mare is a successful dinghy sailor who carries about 10kg more ballast around than Richard Leftley. So it was the H2 newcomer who dominated the beats. Meanwhile, the wind was not only rising but gusting, with one veering gust felling several H2s. Le Mare had a narrow lead over Leftley approaching the last gybe mark and the latter knew he had to make a risky manoeuvre to take the lead. He obtained an overlap at the mark but bore away too quickly for the gybe and capsized. Although he righted his H2 in seconds, Richard Le Mare was now 100 metres ahead and took the gun. Another well built young man, Grant Blake, was enjoying his first outing in an H2 so much that he blasted through to third place, with the consistent Robin Parsons in fourth. Nigel Cowan had his best result of the day in 5th place.

With the wind increasing further, race 4 was not an option, so a fleet of rather tired H2 sailors made it back to the clubhouse for an evening meal and the usual post-race chatter.

The Sunday forecast proved to be more than accurate and the RO had no hesitation in cancelling any further races. Thus the Saturday results stood and Richard Lefley, who won the Solent Trophy in 2018, again took it home. Robin Parsons was rewarded for his long trip from the River Deben in Suffolk by the runner-up's place, counting a very consistent 2,2,4. New owner Richard Le Mare's win in the last race pulled him up to third.

It was a great event, well managed, but if only the weather had behaved it would have been even better. Thanks to the Warsash SC Race Team, the safety boat crews, the shore teams and the caterers - we hope to return soon!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
1st145Richard LeftleyBurghfield SC1124
2nd135Robin ParsonsDeben YC2248
3rd109Richard Le MareCastle Cove SC37111
4th102Ian LittleThorpe Bay SC66820
5th142Barry WolfendenBough Beech SC831021
6th127Chris BrownRORC125623
7th113Grant BlakeOxford SC916328
8th111David MacLeanItchenor SC5131230
9th101Tim NorrisWarsash1310730
10th130Ian DawsonWarsash SC481931
11th121Dick HoldenArun YC1012931
12th144Nigel CowanItchenor SC1611532
13th131Roger MilletChichester SC1191939
14th21Julian HinesNetley SC14141139
15th114Adrian WilliamsWarsash SC1941942
16th146Andrew McGawBurghfield SC7171943
17th125Nigel AthertonWarsash SC17151951
18th107Mark WippellItchenor SC15181952

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