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Skip Atkins reflects on the Astral Azure 2000 Nationals at Castle Cove Sailing Club

by Skip Atkins 31 Aug 06:56 BST 14-19 August 2022
Astral Azure 2000 Nationals at Castle Cove Sailing Club Weymouth © Rich Bowers

My perspective of a fabulous week of top racing and family fun at the 2000 Class National Championships by Skip Atkins

My journey sailing a 2000 dinghy started with the kids over 20 years ago. Back in the early days of our class, I sailed with my children Zoe and Chay who were aged 10 and 8 at the time. We loved the boat and had lots of fun in the boat and also racing success at club level. We then spread our wings and started joining the 2000 racing circuit where we met up with other like-minded families including the Hulleys; Tim, Linda, Jack and Amy became great rivals and friends at the front end of fleet in all 2000 events.

This was a fabulous time as the class evolved and attracted more and more families and top sailors, and top sailors often with their kids. I moved on from the class in 2005 to sail other boats with my children - however, it was never the same fun or as rewarding compared to the 2000 Class.

Fast-forward to August 2022 and I have a 2000 again and have arrived at the beautiful setting of Castle Cove Sailing Club set in the corner of Portland Harbouram for the 2022 2000 Nationals. What a great thrill to find that the event is still full of families sailing together with a range of abilities including REALLY top-class sailors. The entry list was littered with past and present 2000 National Champions and National Champions from several other classes Including Lijia Xu (Lily) (3 time Olympian for China and Gold Medallist in 2012), crewed by Callum Farnden, and Sam Pascoe (runner-up in the 2022 505 Worlds) crewed by his young son Benjamin(8). These 2 boats set the racing standard throughout the week. With Lillie and Callum winning and Sam and Benjamin coming second. Of the top 15 boats, only 4 boats were not made up of family couples which reinforces the family spirit of the class.

Racing aside the family fun was the biggest feature, kids could be seen paddleboarding, pontoon leaping, or just running around the dinghy park playing together while poor old parents packed up the boat!

Apres sailing was just a joy with refreshments taken daily on the club veranda, a Quiz Night hosted by Martin Pascoe (which we won, beating the Race Officers!!) and terrific meals from the Castle Cove Volunteer Chefs. Daily coaching sessions were held by the technical team with drone footage led by the excellent Simon Horsfield and Bill Barker, our Principal Race Officer - all to help those further back in the fleet improve and get more enjoyment from their sailing. There are no secrets in this class: all that sail are happy to offer help and advice to others - it's an unwritten class rule !

The whole event was fantastically well run by Sam Pascoe and his family (Michelle, Julie and Martin) with all the volunteer club members of Castle Cove - BIG THANKS TO ALL.

Thanks to all the sponsors for the week (Noble Marine Insurance, Rooster Sailing, Cerne Abbas Brewery and Fernhurst Books but especially Mike McEwing's company Astral Azure Ltd, the principal sponsor, for the free ice cream van!

To summarise my view of the 2000 Nationals: seventeen years on, the class has truly grown, and evolved,all in the right directions and now ticks so many boxes on all levels - great competition with friendly people and still the same family feel - It's great to be back! 'It started with the Kids'... and long may it successfully continue with the Kids!!

Events like these are not possible without the sterling efforts of the Castle Cove Sailing Club volunteers and the generosity of our sponsors.

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