Fourteen teams representing the culmination of 13 qualifiers over the past twelve months of the National Match Racing Championships gathered at Queen Mary Sailing Club in London this weekend to decide who would be the next team to have their names engraved on the Eacott Trophy.
Friday saw racing get underway under grey skies but with a decent breeze making the races tight and quick. By the end of the day 37 races had been completed and it was almost impossible to separate the top few teams with Murray Hampshire, George Haynes, Robbie King, Ali Morrish and Christian Hamilton all undefeated after some very close racing. Saturday was much clearer but saw much less breeze on the lake.
After a slow start in which teams ghosted their way around the course doing their best to minimise mistakes that could slow them down what wind there was finally gave up after just 12 races. Despite looking throughout the afternoon there would not be another opportunity to get any more races completed. The few races that had gone ahead helped to thin the field at the top and only Hamilton, last year’s runner up, and King, fresh from winning the Harken Youth Match Racing Championships and the British Keelboat League were still undefeated.
An ominous mist hung over the lake on Sunday morning as the teams rigged their boats in the hope that the light breeze that was there would be enough to get them round the race track. Alas, the light and fickle wind faded quickly and the teams were held onshore to wait and see what would happen. Some three hours, and lots of cups of tea, later a zephyr was teasing the waters of Queen Mary.
After a false start where the wind shut down just after the start, it slowly filled in throughout the afternoon and another 12 races were completed. In the second flight a particularly tough match between Hamilton and Ted Blowers saw Hamilton penalised at the start of the final leg and he could never recover to suffer his first loss. King had continued his winning ways but he too would face defeat in the next flight with a loss to Haynes.
With the light beginning to fade the teams headed ashore while the race committee began to unpick the two three way ties, the first for first and the second for fourth. Three teams had recorded just one loss over the weekend but having won more races than anyone Blowers was to be crowned National Match Racing Champion for 2019 with King in second and Hamilton in third. The three way tie for fourth saw Haynes ahead of Hampshire and Miles Jones.
After the prize giving Blowers said: “It was great to have the opportunity to compete at such a high calibre event with so many successful match racers. Although the conditions proved tricky, with light and shifty breeze, we found that minimising errors and staying consistent moved us towards the top end of the leader board at the end of Saturday.
"We had an early loss on our scoresheet but did everything we could on the last day with a 100 per cent win rate including taking a win off Christian who’d looked strong all weekend. We were ecstatic to find out that we had claimed the national title! It’s amazing to have our name next to some of the world's match racings greats like Ian Williams and Paul Campbell-James. We can’t wait for next year!"
For more information on the RYA's National Match Racing Series go to www.RYAmatchracing.co.uk.