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International 14 UK National Championship for the Prince of Wales Cup

by UK International 14 Association 18 Jun 13:53 BST 15 June 2024
International 14 UK Nationals - the Prince of Wales Cup © Tania Hutchings / www.50NorthPhotography.co.uk

A test of skill and endurance in blustery conditions

The International 14 is a special boat in so many ways. On the one hand its evolving rules and scope for different hull, rig, foil and sail designs keep it at the forefront of sailing's technological advances. On the other hand it's a class steeped in traditions which date back to the nineteenth century. One such tradition is the Prince of Wales Cup, which has been raced for since 1927 and is unusual in dinghy racing as it is just one race to decide the year's National Champions.

But it's no ordinary race. Two gruelling hours in a speed machine like this test the sailors' skill and endurance to the limit. The 2024 edition hosted by Royal Torbay Yacht Club was no exception as sailors woke to gusts of 25-30 knots from the south west. There was certainly some trepidation on shore as each passing squall ripped across the bay - and the sailors sheltered in a nearby café waiting for the race committee to get comfortable it was safe to race. After an hour's postponement the breeze moderated enough for the fleet to launch. The first test was navigating the ferries, jetties and narrow entrance to Torquay Harbour to make it out to the start area.

By the time the fleet was out at the start line, the breeze had piped back up above twenty knots again. No time to hang around though and the race got under way - six laps of a "sausage-triangle" course, as is tradition. Andy Shaw & Rob Struckett reached the top mark in the lead, closely followed by last year's champions Glen Truswell and Ed Fitzgerald on the long spreader leg. Kites up and off the fleet went downwind - "holding on for dear life" as one competitor put it. Glen & Ed were able to close the gap a little as Andy & Rob went slightly past the lay line and the two boats rounded the leeward mark within a couple of boat lengths of each other. By the next windward mark, it was a similar story - Andy & Rob having to pinch a little high to make the mark and Glen & Ed showing great boat speed to sail over the top and lead down the first reach of the triangle. Andy & Rob soaked low to allow themselves to hold Glen & Ed out and gybe inside at the wing mark so that, yet again, the two boats were within a couple of boat lengths of each other by the second leeward mark.

Then the breeze really came in. The front two were struggling to keep upright on the beat even with controls pulled on as hard as possible. Behind them, boats were still on the reach as the squall hit leaving a handful of them upside down. Andy & Rob tacked out left but went for a couple of swims as they tacked back right. With a sizeable lead following Andy & Rob's capsize, Glen & Ed sensibly chose to wait out the squall a little without the kite on the next downwind. Andy & Rob rounded as the breeze dropped a little and went for the hoist only for their upper shroud pin to pull out. As they lashed the uppers on with a bit of spare rope, Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait recovered from an early capsize to sail through into second place. The breeze moderated a further so Glen & Ed expertly navigated the rest of the race with no incident and kept a sizeable lead to the finish. Andy & Rob were able to overtake Douglas & Mark on lap four and stretch away a little for second place.

Behind Douglas & Mark, there was a titanic battle - not only for 4th place but for first female helm - between Katie Nurton & Cam Tweedle and Lauren Laventure & Jason Lemieux. Lauren & Jason were able to sneak past on the final leg to take the honours. Behind them, another battle for 6th between Alex Knight & Rob Higgins and Chris Bateman & Rob Bateman. This was a battle of two contrasting pairings - Alex & Rob with the superior speed but difficulties keeping the mast in the air for long enough, and Chris & Rob a father and son pairing in an old boat who (other than Glen & Ed) were the only boat to keep upright for the whole day. As is often the case, keeping the stick in the air wins the day, and Chris & Rob took 6th place giving Rob the sixth and final spot in the coveted " Crew's Union". A huge shout out for a mammoth effort by Rob who was stepping back into a 14 after a long absence, and to newcomer Chris for not only taking the main while helming for much of the race but also doing so barefoot! The reward of taking sixth place shows that a new boat is not always needed to come home from PoW covered in glory!

POWs are meant to be epic and this certainly was, with consistent gusts of 25 plus knots recorded nearby. In the end it was only seven boats out of 21 entrants who were able to complete the full two hours. Huge congratulations to Glen & Ed for an impressive display to defend their title again but also to all who finished or competed in such challenging conditions.

Of course no Prince of Wales Race would be complete without a prize-giving dinner to show off the vast array of silverware built up over the decades. Some less glamorous scenes followed with the annual Crew's Union event inducting two new members, and the fleet had a wonderful evening shared with the B14 sailors who were joining us for our PoW week for the first time. A huge thank you to Royal Torbay Yacht Club for their generous hospitality and exceptional race and event management. We'll be back!

Overall Results:
If you finished the International 14 Nationals / Prince of Wales Cup Race then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosBoat NameSail NoHelmCrewClubPlacePoints
1ScrumpetGBR 1553Glen TruswellEd FitzGeraldItchenor Sailing Club11
2BubbleGBR1569Andy ShawRob StruckettItchenor SC22
3MarylinGBR1561Douglas PattisonMark TaitItchenor33
4La Dolce VitaCAN625Lauren LaventureJASON LEMIEUXRoyal Canadian Yacht Club44
5Amazing MaisieGBR1557Katie NurtonCameron TweedleRoyal Yacht Squadron55
6Chocolate GirlIRL1487Chris BatemanRob BatemanMBSC66
7Smash it1530Alex KnightRob HigginsChew Valley lake Sailing Club77
8Musto Zog1565Archie MasseyHarvey HillaryItchenorDNS15
8Booby1570George YeomanJack YeomanItchenor SCDNF15
8Hell‑BentCAN 623Peter HaywardChris LeighRoyal Canadian Yacht ClubDNF15
8Seeing Pink1575Andy FitzGeraldDan JohnsonItchenor scRET15
8Dragon1558Robin PascalMartin PascalISCDNF15
8Georgy GirlITA 1547Dominic van EssenSimona SaccaniItchenor Sailing ClubDNF15
8ChimeraGBR 1572Peter BromleyHugh macleanThorney islandDNF15

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