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UKLA 2021 ILCA 7 Masters Nationals at Pevensey Bay Sailing Club

by Gareth Kelly 15 Jul 06:21 BST 9-11 July 2021

A mixture of champagne sailing in a classic race venue, slobbing out in front of the telly and tense light wind racing provided the ILCA Masters with the ultimate test - who can conquer such a broad range of conditions?

The ILCA7 fleet held it Masters National Championships at Pevensey Bay over three days from Friday 9 July to Sunday 12 July. Unfortunately, the event was not a Euro Masters event as originally planned and UKLA and Pevensey Bay SC was unable to welcome overseas competitors due to travel restrictions. 45 ILCA 7s entered the event and it was good to see a growing northern contingent. A special mention to Keith Driver who travelled from Cramond Boat Club in Scotland.

Friday started with near perfect conditions, 12-15 knots from the south-west, sun and the tide pushing the fleet upwind throughout the day which resulted in long enjoyable downwind legs surfing on the waves.

The first attempt at race one was recalled with the tide pushing the fleet over the line. The second attempt was successful following the introduction of the U flag, this resulted in several OCS disqualifications being posted on the committee boat at the finish. Queen Marys Mark Lyttle was in the lead around the first mark and opened up a large gap through working the waves downwind. Second was Stokes Bays Nick Harrison also known for his expertise in the waves and third was Gareth Kelly from Leigh and Lowton who later discovered that he had picked up 5 penalty points as he had forgotten to tally.

Despite the tide still pushing the fleet upwind, race two was away first time. However, some of the fleet on the left hand side of the course headed to the outer loop windward mark by mistake. Mike Matan thought he was leading until he was advised by a fellow competitor to look over his shoulder. Again, Mark Lyttle was out of the blocks quickly this time followed by Orlando Gledhill also from Queen Mary. Orlando had missed race one due to work commitments so was carrying an early discard throughout the weekend. Tim Law was heard whooping down the last run as caught a gust and surfed into third place.

The final race followed a similar pattern to race two, with Mark Lyttle and Orlando Gledhill battling it out with Gareth Kelly third.

Saturday dawned with a total contrast in the weather; the sun was replaced by rain and the wind had disappeared. The race officer kept the fleet ashore and decided to abandon racing for the day early in the afternoon as the forecast wasn't promising. The sun did briefly reappear in time for the evening BBQ and competitors were treated to superb hospitality from Pevensey Bay. Nick Harrison gave a speech about the background and aims of the Andrew Simpson Foundation and there was a free raffle with sponsors prizes from South East Sailboats, Vaikobi, Ovington and Sailingfast - a Wildwind holiday was the main prize, won by Naill Peelo. Neil Peters 'Stick', legend of the class led the fundraising activities and £1700 was raised for the foundation through the generosity of the competitors.

Sunday looked better with a light southerly breeze forecast. As boats were being rigged the wind was building and it looked like a good days racing was on the cards with three races planned. On arrival at the start line the wind dropped to nothing for an hour but then reappeared and racing then got was under way with a gently but steady southerly wind.

Mark Lyttle again won race four and was looking untouchable. Andy Le Grice from Warsash was second followed by Orlando Gledhill.

In race five, it was Roger O'Gorman, another Queen Mary sailor, who took the honours followed by Chris Whalley from Parkstone and Nick Harrison third. Nick was building a steady series. Orlando unfortunately scored big in this race which effectively ruled him out of a chance overall with no discard. In the final race, it was Oxford's Alan Davis who won with Roger O'Gorman second and David Binding from Weir Wood third.

Overall, the event was dominated by Mark Lyttle followed by the consistent performance of Nick Harrison and Alan Davis in second and third. It was therefore a Grand Master (age range 55-65) first second and third overall. Great Grand Master (age 65+) Tim Law who was finish fourth follow by Masters (age 45-55) Orlando Gledhill and Gareth Kelly in fifth and sixth. Apprentice Masters (35-45) Roger O'Gorman and Chris Whalley were seventh and eighth. This goes to show, with an age range of around 30 years between the top 8 and the success this weekend going to... let's say those with experience... that age isn't a barrier to competing in ILCA 7 masters events.

This was my first Master Nationals and I would encourage those who don't normally attend to give it a try, or if you prefer lake sailing the UKLA has a Masters event at Queen Mary in September and the Masters Inlands Championship at Grafham Water in October. The next main event will be the UKLA nationals at Weymouth where masters and club sailors will get chance to compete against the British Sailing Team sailors as well as those in their own age bands.

Overall it was a great regatta and based on the chat in the boat park a good learning experience for all. Race officer Paul Jackson and his team put together a long weekend of superbly run races - thank you. Off the water there seemed to be a never ending stream of amazing volunteers from both UKLA and Pevensey Bay sailing club - thank you! Thanks also to Alison and the organising committee. Last but not least a big thank you to all our sponsors.

Sponsors of UKLA ILCA Masters:

  • Sailingfast - Duncan brings his battle bus down from Scotland for most the big events, which is so ridiculously well equipped, you could replace everything on your boat. Although based in Scotland they will get anything to you super fast. He also supplied many of the prizes for the draw on Saturday evening. Check out

  • SouthEast Sailboats - Max brings bespoke quality at affordable prices to the class. His passion for detail has made his products a must have for anyone who wants quality. He also supplied many great prizes for the event.

  • Ovington Boats - Chris Turner lives dinghies and has been a significance presence in the boat building world for decades. OB are now the official UK builders of ILCAs. A very smart new Ovington ILCA Dinghy was on display at the Masters event.

  • Vaikobi - a brand born on the waters of Sydney Harbour, out of a passion for all ocean sports. Across the team, we paddle, Surfski, SUP, Wing Foil and Sail. Sailing has been a passion within the business right from the start. The senior management team at Vaikobi comprise more than fifty years of marine industry and sailing experience between them.

  • Noble Marine - Ian MacManus (the man behind the name) has crafted a very competitive and excellent insurance product for all Laser/ILCA sailors. A very personal service and a extremely useful website help make this the 'go to' company.

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