The final day of competition dawned and though defending champion Charlie Cumbley had a lead of 6 points over second placed Tim Law with Pete Mitchell a further 4 points back, high scores as discards were sitting, like rotten teeth in all the front runners scores. Probably the worst case scenario was Ellie Cumpsty’s tally with 2 BFDs and no wiggle room for error.
The heat of the Sun was tempered by high cloud, the net curtains only parting occasionally and with no sign of cumulus action over the Downs, a sea breeze was doubtful.
The fleet launched at 10.45 a.m and were on course Bravo by 11.30 a.m allowing time to analyse wind and tide data, calibrate settings and carb up before the countdown.
Away first time with just the one OCS and I had my eyes firmly on the front runners who had elected to start towards the pin end..again. Cumbley and Mitchell seemed buried and with only 5-7 mph across the course, were both in a bit of bother. I did not see Law but Cumpsty was in a good position towards the left of the course, taking a conservative approach to the beat as the wind decided who to bless and who to curse. I was aboard the Jury rib with a number of spectators, among them, Errol Edwards who had lent Cumpsty his Solo for the week and, like Klopp kicks every ball from the sideline, was living every tack and gybe she made. He also had a zoom lens which left my Fuji S1 reaching for a modesty towel. With 200 yards to the mark to go, the wind swung hard left which must have devastated the guys who had headed right but confirmed to those lucky buggers on the left that they were indeed tactical genii.
First to the mark was Jamie Holmes from Spinnaker S.C. with Andy Hyland and Richie Bailey, the HD set up working nicely again for the Plate Series leader. Guy Mayger continued his good form in fourth from Ellie Cumpsty. Alec Powell and under 21 sailor Alexander Butler were right in the mix with all the main contenders well back. Bailey led around the leeward mark from Mayger while Cumbley was clawing his way up from the high twenties. The second lap saw the breeze slightly more stable and at the gun it was Bailey who took his second bullet of the regatta with Cumpsty, Mayger and Butler completing the top five. Cumbley took seventh and that would be enough to seal the title with Law and Mitchell having to count high discards. Cumpsty was right in the mix, two points of third and thirteen points off second.
The wind then switched off and with a rumble of thunder echoing across the course, would we get the final race in?
We waited tensely for over one hour and with a deadline of 3.30pm for the last possible start, time was running out. Fortunately a storm system was heading towards the course area from Bembridge, the radio coms confirming there was 12mph at the windward mark. Two starts later and we were racing but with 16 BFDs. Law, Cumpsty and Mitchell all started within touching distance with Cumbley further to windward and enjoying the fresh conditions. A third of the way up the beat water began to fall from the sky and I quietly sniggered as my nemesis sheathed his zoom while I was able to continue shooting, the Fuji S1 may not be waterproof but it is splash proof.
With the windiest conditions of the regatta came a different calibre of sailor and I could sense their frustrations of what could have been. Cumbley led from Gareth Henshall, Stuart Godwin and Tim Law who was heard lecturing his two younger pretenders on the etiquette of mark rounding. Mitchell and Simon Childs were next as the fleet blasted into the bright yellow inflatable mark as it yawed from side to side in the confused sea state. Cumpsty was holding her own in the top ten but needed to be ahead of both of her nearest rivals if she was to claim a podium. Cumbley and Godwin rounded the bottom mark together with the latter choosing the left hand gate and he was then able to gain up the last beat to take the lead….temporarily as he then dropped below the spreader, assuming it was a triangle and gifted Cumbley the lead and the bullet.
At this point we decided to head ashore as we were wet and cold, two things we did not think we would be at the start of the day. The drama unfolded as the sailors came to shore and trudged to the noticeboard to seek confirmation of the results. Unbelievably, Law, Mitchell and Cumpsty were all BFDs which resulted in Mitchell claiming second from Law with an unlucky Cumpsty dropping to 17th due to a BFD (105) counter.
Charlie Cumbley was a very worthy winner in an incredibly tough Championship where the light winds and challenging start lines tested every competitor and the PROs sanity.
Pete Mitchell is still youthful and his hard drive of experience is filling up quick, a future National Championship title is not beyond his reach while for Tim Law the BFD in race 8 halted his very valid tilt at the title. Olly Davenport showed true resilience after opening his regatta with a BFD and Guy Mayger has announced his talent to the Class with fifth overall.
This Championship was punctuated by the generosity of our title sponsor Magic Marine and the quality of their products was much appreciated. We did ask Jarvis Simpson, winner of the Ultimate Long John to model it but with 30 degrees beating down, he wisely declined until the weather is more suitable. We took a fabulous publicity shot of the sailors in the headwear which is the smartest they looked all week. Ellie received a Magic Marine rash vest while Mark Lee was one of two to win a really cool Revolution Buoyancy Aid.
Congratulations to the winners of the Magic Marine £100 vouchers, Guy Mayger (VET), Tim Law (GM), John Webster (Sep), Richie Bailey (PLATE) and our two Magic Marine £50 voucher winners Alexander Butler (U21) and Ellie Cumpsty (Lady).
Our Performance Improver Series, sponsored by Allen was also very well supported. Nick Bonner won the best performance of the week in the final race (£30) while Joe Ryecroft won an Allen £50 voucher for finishing all races. Other winners were Olly Davenport, Patrick Burns, Richie Bailey, Ray Collins and Tony Thresher who won best performance from a wooden boat.
The club was packed every night and I wish to thank the competitors for allowing me to sprinkle my daily speeches with sarcasm while our Early Bird sponsors, Milanes Foils, Selden, P+B, HD Sails, North Sails, Hyde Sails, C2 Marine, Winder Boats provided us with some really fantastic prizes.
Thanks to Simon Philbrick for his On-Water surveillance, absolutely essential to ensure fair play for all. You would not hold a football match without a referee?
Thanks to Leah Brooks and the team in the HISC office who had results published before we were ashore while the catering team, headed by Chef John treated us to amazing food every day, I do not exaggerate where food is concerned.
PRO Paul Carpenter, supported by a team including Pin end Marker Nick Dene managed to get a twelve race series completed which even he was surprised by. Please do not take it personally that the fleet preferred the company of Nick at the pin.
H.I.S.C. has a reputation for excellence and they delivered.
Lastly, thanks to Noble Marine for their continued support of the NSCA.