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K1 Inland Championship at Rutland Sailing Club

by Hilly King 9 Jul 15:33 BST 6-7 July 2024

The K1 Inland National Championship was held over the weekend of 6th/7th July at Rutland Sailing Club. We were to share the venue with the Formula 1 class (sailing not motor) despite it being the weekend of the British Grand Prix!

Current National Champion Simon Hawkes ran a brilliant training session on Friday prior to the Championships and the improvement of those who attended the training was clear for all to see. We are really fortunate in the K1 class that time and experience are given freely to help less experienced members of the class improve performance and more importantly enjoy the time on the water. In the evening it was a chance to catch up with friends old and new in the sunshine. Rutland Sailing Club then invited the competitors to join in with their weekly quiz evening which was great fun, but alas, with the exception of the home K1 fleet none of the visitors figured in the overall prizes.

The forecast for Saturday was overcast with winds varying from 24 to 40 knots, so clearly it would be an interesting day for the 20 competitors which came to the start line. Every time a front blew through the wind significantly increased and it was slightly disconcerting to see the much larger Formula 1 boats capsizing on their way up the first beat. David Frary after making the journey from Norfolk was a little unlucky to suffer gear failure and Nigel Salmon was also forced back to the shore.

For the first race the fleet got away cleanly but there were numerous casualties when over enthusiastic latecomers forced their way into non existent gaps! However at the front it was clear to see Simon Hawkes, Paul Birbeck and Jeremy Hudson had clear lines and were making good progress on the right hand side of the race course. Ian Duke, Richard Sims Mike Beckett and Cedric Jakobsen were also making significant inroads however on the left hand side of the course. Big windshifts in the centre saw significant place changing and with the shifts coming thick and fast so the strength of the wind was also increasing.

The lighter competitors were doing heroically trying to keep the boats as flat as possible. At the first windward mark there was little between the leading group with Simon and Paul opting to gybe immediately whilst Richard and Jeremy continued on starboard looking for clear air as the whole fleet rounded just behind. Weed was causing a few problems with boats suddenly stopping and sailing backwards to remove the offending strands. Interestingly Simon chose to remove his weed by stepping on the boom whilst still racing and then removing the weed by hand, not something for the faint hearted in gusty conditions.

By the leeward mark the first few had established a reasonable order however the majority of the fleet arrived together with much debate of who should have water and place changing from 5th to 14th in the process. Ian and Mike were the big winners whereas Phil King and Graham Butler were definitely going to have to pull through again on the long beat back up to the windward mark. The leaders all chose the left hand side to pick up the now regular windshifts, however the chasing pack were trying not only to come to terms with the brutal conditions but keep clear air.

At the finish Simon took the win, Paul second, Richard third and Jeremy fourth. Race two started in similar conditions but the wind had swung slightly more westerly and ominous rain clouds were building ahead. Ian and Simon nailed the start and headed to what looked like the favoured left side. Paul, Richard and Jeremy all however tacked early seeing a shift towards the far right shore. Graham together with Hilly King were heading the chasing pack and made the decision that the left side was worth pursuing whilst the wind held steady.

Bang on schedule the heavens opened and with it a new squall and change of wind direction. When the fleet came together again it was hard to see which had become the favoured side as the leaders all rounded as one. Ian and Jeremy chose to head off on a starboard run whilst Simon, Paul and Richard gybed away clearly after more wind from the centre of the course.

The next eight boats were all very close together and this is the beauty of the K1 which produces exceptionally close racing so again it was a case of trying to protect your wind from those directly behind you. Simon had now regained the lead but Jeremy, Richard and Paul were all in a position to take the lead if the wrong windshift was taken, or weed not removed straight away. Ian and Hilly were seen to be sailing backwards more than most, but Ian has blistering off wind pace which he uses to great effect and indeed sailed past both Graham and Hilly as if they were stationary!

At the finish Simon won, Jeremy second, Richard third and Paul fourth.

The last race on Saturday started in the strongest winds with a steady 33knots gusting 40 whilst another front moved overhead. This start saw Ian, Jeremy and Richard opting for the centre of the line, Simon, Paul and Geoff King towards the pin with Mike, Cedric and Mark Stones all sailing fast and high well up to windward. The first beat was going to be very close throughout the racecourse and impossible to see if anyone had an advantage until the fleet came together again. Strangely the wind seemed to bend on both extremities and Phil King going hard right together with George Hoskins seemed to have a huge lift which was mirrored by Simon and Geoff who were hard left.

As the front passed the wind lightened slightly and at the windward mark Jeremy, Phil, Richard and Mike were just ahead of Simon and the chasing pack. The run was to be very influential as the wind was again filling, but this time from behind, so those who had turned the mark behind the leaders now closed right up, meaning nearly three quarters of the fleet were going to be rounding the leeward mark together! Positioning was everything and you had to keep your eyes open for weed which was to prove very frustrating, as you could get a huge amount and the boat next to you get nothing.

Plenty of boats were again sailing backwards more than once to clear the foils and this was to change places throughout the fleet. At the top mark normal service was resumed with Simon leading with Geoff, Jeremy and Richard all within a whisker of each other. At the finish Simon won, Richard second, Jeremy third and Geoff fourth.

That evening discussions on the day took place whilst we all enjoyed a fabulous Bar B Q provided by Rutland sailing club. The hospitality of Rutland Sailing Club is always first class and this is an opportunity to express our thanks from the K1 fleet. We were also treated to England winning their tie with Switzerland at the Euros, together with three Brits fastest in qualifying for the British Grand Prix.

Sunday dawned with bright sunshine and forecast of lighter winds, who could ask for anything more... champagne conditions?

When we arrived at the start line it was immediately apparent that although the wind was indeed lighter, it was not that much lighter and the waves with white horses and black clouds gathering had lulled us into a false sense of security.

Exactly on schedule the Formula1 class started, they promptly capsized, likewise the rain arrived together with a decent squall and within five minutes it was time for the start of race four. Ian had clearly had his porridge as he nailed the start leading Simon and Jeremy off to the left. Paul, Richard, Graham, Phil and Cedric started higher on the line and opted to tack off to the right at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile Simon and Jeremy both tacked away leaving Ian to continue in isolation to the left, which was to prove the correct strategy as he caught a fabulous lift and was now clear ahead. At the windward mark Ian led followed by Jeremy, with Simon and Paul slightly further back. Was this the time Simon would be beaten as he gybed away from what appeared to be the favoured line whilst the chasing pack lead by Richard, Graham and Geoff descended on the leaders. Ian rounded the leeward mark still in the lead but the shifts, holes and weed had to be negotiated carefully to keep clear of those chasing. Jeremy was first to slip by closely followed by Simon with Paul getting closer. Further back Richard and Graham were making excellent progress and place changes so frequent it was just a joy to be racing in such a close one design fleet.

At the finish Simon just got the better of Jeremy keeping a perfect race card with Ian third and Paul fourth.

With two further races scheduled for Sunday Simon looked a clear favourite but who would fill the rest of the podium places. After a significant delay and wild changes of wind direction race five was started in significantly less wind and this created huge pressure with everyone trying to start at the committee boat end as it looked possible to close reach to the windward mark. Jeremy was pushed over the line together with a gaggle of boats all caught out by the second windshift, however Ian, Hilly, Paul and Mike had what looked like a clear passage to the mark. After a morale victory for Ian the race was sensibly abandoned as the race had turned into a meaningless procession.

The wind again increased for what proved to be the final race and swung back to its original direction, with the sun making a welcoming appearance. After another delay Richard established a lead and played the shifts brilliantly on the right hand side to lead at the first windward mark followed by Simon, Jeremy, Paul and Ian. The rest of the fleet were in close contention with Mark and Geoff trying to reduce the gap to the leaders. At the start of the second beat Richard was still clear but Simon was not to be denied and went into the lead. Jeremy, Ian and Paul all needed good positions to potentially secure podium places so could not make any mistakes as the breeze again swung. At the finish Simon won, Richard second, Ian third and Paul fourth.

Simon was therefore deservedly K1 Inland National Champion 2024. Richard and Jeremy tied on points, but on count back Richard came second overall, Jeremy third, Paul fourth and Ian fifth.

  • Mike won the Masters trophy
  • Hilly won the Seniors trophy
  • Geoff won the Veterans trophy
Other prize winners were George, Simon Etter, Cedric, Graham, Phil and Nigel.

All agreed a really fabulous weekend and we thank Rutland Sailing Club and the Fleet Captain David Pritchett all their hard work.

We would also like to thank our sponsors Craftinsure and Ovington Boats for their generosity. We look forward now to our next event which is the National Championships at Brixham YC in September.

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