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Musto Lark National Championships 2024 - Runners & Riders - Part 2

by Nigel Hufton 21 May 14:04 BST 26-29 May 2024
Day 2 of the Musto Lark Nationals at Pentewan © Robert Deaves /

The upcoming Lark National Championships (26-29 May), sponsored by Musto, will see a return of many past champions - but they will be challenged by some 'new kids on the block'!

Below we look at the contenders for the overall winners' trophy. You can read a separate preview of the challengers for trophies in the all-important Silver fleet, Bronze fleet and other categories in Lark Nationals 2024 Runners & Riders (Part 1).

The Larks return to Weymouth for the first time since 2000. One of the UK's premier sailing venues - and scene of the Olympic 2012 regatta - the event promises great sailing and family-friendly fun. Entries are already over 50% up on last year and there are still boats available to borrow. Anyone wanting to join in can find out more at the event webpage, Lark Nationals 2024.

The Top 10 will be fiercely contested, as ever, with seven previous Championship-winning helms (and 8 crews) in the mix, all keen to get their names on the Silver Lark trophy, plus a sprinkling of recent British sailing team members.

All eyes will be on Tom Gillard and James Hobson. Tom has won more championships than even he can remember - across Scorpions, Fireballs, Solos, Merlins and Streakers - but has never competed in a Lark championship event. Can he be the first non-Lark sailor to lift the trophy since Ian Southworth in 1984?

In attempting this feat, Tom & James will be up against a wealth of talent:

Ed Bradburn & Holly Evans - Ed & Holly won the championship in 2023, having stepped up a gear from a usual solid Top-10 position to take the crown. Looking strong after a 1st and 2nd in early Open meetings.

Stuart & Nick Hydon - Twice winners (2016-17) and looking for that elusive third win to become Lark 'Gods'. Came 2nd last year. Brilliant tactics and boat speed and an uncanny ability to thread their way through the fleet. The shiftier the better.

John Brickwood and Andy Hicks - John became a Lark 'God' in the 80s and 90s and returned to Lark sailing in 2022 with Andy, reuniting their winning partnership from 1986! They came 3rd last year and looked very good over the winter at Frensham. Heaps of experience and talent and will do well in all conditions.

Chris & Nic White - Chris is one of only two people to have won the Larks as both helm (2018/2021) and crew (2019). As a 3-time winner, he is now officially a Lark 'God'. He was 6th last year but is now back sailing with his wife, who won with him in 2021. Hot favourite for the Married Couples prize.

Tim Fells & Fran Gifford - Three-time winner (and 5th last year) Tim has nothing to prove but he retains his competitive instinct and skill, as shown by successes in the Merlin fleet with Fran. Should be Top 5.

Emma Harris & Rachael Jenkins - Past champion Emma is now sailing with Rachael and they are looking very strong, with wins at Weymouth, Waldringfield and Rock in the last year. Emma is always able to thread her way through the fleet if necessary and with Rachael is back to her best. Could be Top 5.

Harry Pynn & Gemma Cook - A past champion and 7th last year. Particularly strong in light to medium wind. Strong competitor for the Married couple's prize. Could be Top 5.

Nigel Hufton & Matt Wood - Nigel has attended every Lark Nationals since 1983 and won the Champs as crew in 1994. Still trying to complete the double, with many Top 5 finishes. 10th last year but is now re-united with Matt Wood - together they came 3rd in 2019. Should be Top 10.

Jonny Coate & Kate Phillips - 9th last year, but with some Top 3 wins in Opens, they could go even better this year. Should be Top 10.

Megan Brickwood & Connor Dickson - Recent members of the British Olympic team, Megan is gradually learning the differences of a Lark from a 49FXand will be up there in a blow with fiancé Connor. Should be Top 10.

Steph Orton & Alex Hughes - New to the fleet but Steph is from a Lark sailing family and is a recent member of the 49FX British Sailing Team.

Jeremy & Becca Stephens - Past Lark champion crew and Enterprise champion helm (with daughter Becca), Jeremy has great tactics, speed and fitness - but injury and a lack of time in the boat might hamper their chances.

Chris & Kate Holliman - Great sea sailor, should do well if it's windy, but lack of time in the boat might count against.

Samuel Bailey & Kamila Czartolomna - Samuel showed excellent promise in winning the Travellers' Trophy in 2021 but has yet to excel on the sea. 2024 could be the year to do it.

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