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Hyde Sails 2021 - Basic LEADERBOARD

Formula 20 Catamaran Nationals at Worthing Sailing Club

by Ron Bentham 6 Sep 2001 08:35 BST

The Formula 20 Catamaran Nationals took place at Worthing Yacht Club over the weekend of 25th August 2001. The Formula 18 and Nacra/Prindle Nationals also took place. 11 Formula 20's took part, a testament to this ever growing big cat class, and for the first time cats from different manufacturers took place, following the recent release of the Storm F20 and the Hobie Fox - although it was a shame that Hobie did not send a Fox to compete. So the fleet consisted of 10 Nacra Inter 20's and 1 Storm F20.

The weather and tide combined over the three days to provide very tactical racing in mainly light and shifty force 2-3 - there were no capsizes in the entire event - something of a rarity! The first day was blazing sunshine and light shifty winds. The officials worked hard to set 3 races with much re-positioning of markers. Unfortunately the same type of marks were used for the start as for the course, and at the gun on the first race the entire fleet raced for the start line - the wrong start line! A loud triple gun was not enough and the RIB's had to round up the fleet for the recall! At the restart 1999 Champions Paul Butler and Simon Lack raced into a commanding lead chased by 2000 runner up Stuart Gummer and Peter Lewer and the Storm F20 of Richard Allen and James Hoad. Race 2 saw Gummer/Lewer taking their first win and Butler/Lack pushed into 3rd by Allen/Hoad. Defending 2000 champions Ron Bentham and Howard Watson, not famous for light weather ability, made a showing of third in the Race 3 with Butler/Lack 1st and Gummer/Lewer 2nd.

The results after day 1 indicated that the top 3 places were going to be fought closely by these 4 teams, and this proved to be the case. It was good to see close competition in an event that had been dominated in recent years by former Nacra 6 and now Inter 20 sailor Paul Butler from Highcliffe, who in previous years had won with an unbroken string of bullets. This year he was run hard by Gummer/Lewer and Allen/Hoad in the Storm - great news for the class.

Further down the field the competition was no less fierce, with all but 1 of the remaining 7 cats gaining a fourth or third place in at least one race of the event - a testament to the close racing to be had in Formula 20. Newcomers Dave Rollason and Niall Walters of Worthing were consistently placed last in all races, but are to be congratulated and welcomed to F20 sailing - we've all been there!

Day 2 saw 3 races sailed back to back in very light winds, following a spectacular thunderstorm ashore which saw many cats quickly laid on their sides - did I say there were no capsizes?!! Butler/Lack and Gummer/Lewer again showed their light weather skills with 2 and 1 wins respectively. Allen/Hoad took 2 thirds with the new team of Derek Beddows and Stuart Eitton from Blackpool taking their first podium position with a third in race 6.

Day 3 saw a real race for the championship, and for the second year in succession it came down to the last race, with Gummer/Lewer and Butler/Lack needing to win it to win it. Allen/Hoad were also in with a shout, but in the end settled for third. Meanwhile with a trophy for 4th place available, the competition for 4th place was really hot. Peter Findlay and Dave Watkins from Bala showed their pedigree in race 7 with a storming win. Dave Walker and Mike Pearson also from Bala topped a consistent string of middle positions with a third in the last race. John Kay and Tim Gerhard from Stokes Bay notched up two 4th's in the event and Chris Needham and Neil Heard, happier in heavy weather, posted a 4th and a 5th. Dave Charles and Martin Stevens (third in 2000) had a disappointing regatta with a 4th place their best result.

The last race saw most of the drama with Gummer/Lewer attempting to "sail out" Butler/Lack - they eventually finished 6th and 5th, giving Butler/Lack the championship, leaving Gummer/Lewer again runners up. In the race for 4th Bentham/Watson took a desperate gamble after a terrible beat and went off on the run on the opposite gybe from the fleet. This paid off - while Gummer and Butler were off having their personal duel, Allen/Hoad in the Storm in 1st position suddenly found Bentham/Watson on the one side, and Walker/Pearson on the other breathing down his neck. Approaching the last leeward mark Allen/Hoad just had the legs and took the win, whilst Bentham/Watson had sailed higher than Walker/Pearson and were coming in on the mark hot. Walker/Pearson should have gybed cleanly for the finish, but got tangled with an F18 and were forced to gybe early onto port with Bentham/Watson coming in just behind on starboard he was forced into a crash gybe alowing Bentham/Watson through to finish 2nd. Exciting stuff, but the real loser in this duel were Findlay/Watkins who was pushed down to 5th overall and out of the prizes by the single extra point gained by Bentham/Watson in the last gasp of the regatta - a shame as his more consistent results were perhaps more deserving of 4th than Bentham/Watson who discarded two 10th's!

Had the new scoring system for the Tornado Sport regattas been used (no discards) then the results would have almost been the same - Walker/Pearson would have come 5th instead of 7th, by a single point - interesting.

So Paul Butler and Simon Lack duly collected the Formula 20 National Championship trophy, the Weltec Rose Bowl, and Hell Hansen Dry suits. Paul in his acceptance speech was magnaminous in victory, thanking the sponsors Helly Hansen, and Worthing Yacht club for a superb event. Stuart Gummer took secind prize for the second sucessive year and Richard Allen took third in the Storm - we hope to see more of these superb cats in 2002. Ron Bentham and Howard Watson collected 4th prize. Oh....and there was lots of beer, music and dancing with the combined F18, F20 and Nacra/Prindle fleets doing some serious partying.

Formula 20 sailing is on the up and up - the racing is close, tactical and exilharating as teams push these big 20 foot cats to their limits. Class details are on

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewClubF20 Type
1stButlerLackHighcliffeInter 20
2ndGummerLewerBrading HavenInter 20
3rdAllenHoadWarsashStorm F20
4thBenthamWatsonBalaInter 20
5thFindlayWatkinsBalaInter 20

More Information:

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