Tuesday, June 17, 2014
A strong 29 boat fleet of Squibs turned out for the East Coast Championships held at Stone SC on the river Blackwater for the first time. The large and enthusiastic fleet of local boats were joined by visitors from as far afield as Yorkshire and the Isle of Wight.
The 5 race series started in very light a shifty conditions with the northerly wind off the shore swinging through 45 degrees and varying between 10 knots and virtually zero.
Newcomer to the class Stuart Rix, who amongst his impressive sailing CV has a third place in the Melges 24 world championships a few years back, was trying out his ride( class chairman and crew Steve Warren-Smith's boat) in preparation for the Nationals at Lowestoft in a few weeks time. He proceeded to embarrass the rest of the class with a big lead in race one, which unfortunately for him ended in a flat calm patch robbing him of a debut win However in race two the wind was a little more steady and Stuart won that one to further upset the Squib Establishment! The Grogans held onto a slim lead from him in race three which was vein steadily eroded towards the finish, leaving the newcomers unlucky not to have scored a hat trick first time out!
Sunday saw 10-15 knots and some very close racing with Micky Wright and Chris Dunn in Spoof winning race four which along with their win in race 1 gave them the Championship with a race to spare. With good starts and always seeming to go the right way they built on their success in the recent Gold Cup to look like clear favourites for the Nationals. They even managed a third place working their way through the fleet despite being OCS in one race!
Gerard Dyson and Tony Saltonstall won the last race to take second overall with the Grogan's in their new boat ( Harry 111, Mike Budd's championship winning boat last year) struggling for pace in third.
First local boat was Neil Fulcher, sailing with his wife Carina, who with the rest of the Stone fleet were widely praised at the prize giving for the effort and organisation of a very successful event.
Stuart Rix was unable to sail day two, which left some questions to be answered about his likely impact on the fleet at the Nationals, but no one was in any doubt that he will be a formidable challenge to Micky and Chris for the seasons showdown.
Gear wise, all three top boats were late sail number Parker boats, although Stuart and Steve were sailing a very tatty 40 year old one.
Sails in the top three were all Hyde except for Gerard and Tony using a Batt mainsail.