Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Hyde Sails prove a force to be reckoned with at the 2010 Squib nationals at the Royal St George YC in Dun Laoghaire
The 2010 Squib National Championship was always set to be a tricky light weather test on the shifty, unpredictable waters of Dublin Bay. With a week of high pressure and spring tides, conditions were dominated by the timing and direction of the erratic sea breeze, which filled in every day, but sometimes long after the sailing had either finished or been abandoned. No one team managed to win more than one race and the series was a high points scorer with any resulting the top 20 being a counter.
Strong start for Hyde
Race one was won by Hyde Sails MD Nigel Grogan and Dan Cripps after they made it to the new sea breeze early and crossed the line with their spinnaker up, while the early leaders Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey parked on the left. With the wind from the land this pattern became all too familiar with the early gradient breeze eventually being replaced from the sea.
Race two was sailed in light, but steadier breezes and multiple championship winners the Hogans won, beating Andy Brown and Harvey Worden in 'Bacchante VII' who were second. The Rileys clocked up a second third place looking as though they had already mastered the conditions, while consistency eluded virtually everyone else.
Race three was held back to back with the sea breeze getting up to about 18 knots and strengthening throughout. 'Alchemy' got into their stride winning from Mike Probert and James Bryer, with Alan Johnson in third already carrying a black flag.
At the end of the day Grogan and Cripps had a big lead with the Fenwicks and the Rileys close behind, Robert Coyle and wife Tracy were also near the top due to some fast, consistent sailing.
Tuesday saw thick sea mist and no sailing, but the mist rose and a sparkling sea breeze filled in an hour before the coach arrived to take the fleet to Ireland's highest pub!
Wednesday was controversial. The gradient breeze was very light and moving around 30 degrees. The race was abandoned after a big shift on the first beat. After a restart the race was again abandoned after the wind went around 180 degrees on the run and there was confusion over the re-laid 'windward mark'. A third time attempt was made with the sea breeze now at around 10 knots, but as the boats on the right hoisted spinnakers (tactically?!) the race officer decided the boats romping to the windward mark on the right were having too much fun and abandoned that one too!
With the pressure now on to complete the series, the Thursday race started in an unstable westerly. Sam Cole and Denise Kerr performed brilliantly to win ahead of 'Nimble' and 'Banshee'. Heavyweights Colin Bentley and Nigel in 'Squirrel' defied gravity to take fourth.
The second race that day turned inside out, but was well won by Nigel Harris giving him the overall lead. Many of the frontrunners scored places in the wrong half of the fleet after being becalmed for over half an hour, importantly the Rileys managed a fourth and 'Pocohontes' a sixth, Owen Delaney and Tony Holman also showed good form on their old waters.
Fortunately the final race was sailed in steady 12-18 knots of breeze and a convincing win by the Fenwicks saw them take the championship with clever sailing and great tactical prowess. The Hogans were second, but well out of the overall results due to the disaster of the day before. Nigel Harris had a shocker after spinnaker problems, but still managed third overall, while 11th place in the last race was enough to give runner-up spot to Dave Best and Pete Richards who almost managed to keep every result in the top 20 and showed how to sail a high scoring, big fleet championships. Grogan and Cripps rallied to 11th, which gave them fourth overall, beating 'Pani Munta' by a point.
Sail development pays dividends
From a gear perspective the development work on sails paid dividends for Hyde Sails, with the Batt stranglehold well and truly broken. Interestingly five out of the top 10 were 'new' Parker boats as opposed to the pre-150 sail numbers. Some very expensive rudders and hull finishes were also evident as the class appears to have moved to new levels of competitiveness.
1st 758 Ghost Rider Mike Fenwick Penny Fenwick 41pts
2nd 797 Crossfire Dave Best Pete Richards 43pts
3rd 65 Banshee M.N. Harris R.J. Stephenson 51pts
4th 105 Helmut Shoing II Nigel Grogan Daniel Cripps 54pts
5th 128 Pani Munta Mike Probert James Bryer 55pts
6th 872 Pocahontas Mike Hughes James Smith 55pts
7th 127 Misfire Roger Harris Mark Thompson 60pts
8th 800 Alchemy Gerard P. Dyson Tony Saltonstall 61pts
9th 823 Humphrey Robert Coyle Tracy Coyle 63pts
10th 136 Rico'shea Chris Hogan Mark Hogan 64pts