representing 16 clubs gathered in the Solent this weekend to fight it out to be
crowned British Keelboat League champion – with hosts Royal Thames YC being
attending the final had earned their place through one of the qualifiers held
over the last year. With club
honour at stake each team was going to give it their all and so they took
advantage of the offer by the host club, the Royal Thames Yacht Club, to get in
a quick training session in their J/70s on the Friday morning. They wouldn’t
have long to get to grips with the boats but every second in training would
count as races would be won or lost by inches.
complete Angus Prentice, Captain of Racing at RTYC, welcomed the competing
clubs to the event before handing over to Principle Race Officer Keith Sammons
and Chief Umpire Jon Napier to explain the plan for the day.
and the excited teams headed afloat, eager to see how they would fare against
the other clubs.
The racing got
underway and the first race went to Hayling Island Sailing Club, continuing
their undefeated streak in BKL racing and making a clear statement of intent,
Edinburgh University SC took the second place spot with Royal Dee YC taking
their winning ways in race 2 with Royal Corinthian YC chasing them home in
second. With HISC not in Race 3 the clubs were keen to make their mark and West
Hoe SC sailed to victory, just ahead of Ullswater YC.
afternoon continued there were wins for the Wessex Exiles, Royal Yacht Squadron,
Royal Thames YC, Royal Ocean RC, Edinburgh University SC and the Royal
Corinthian YC, in fact only HISC had managed more than one win with three on
the scorecard at the end of the day.
wins would place Hayling Island SC at the top of the leader board overnight
with an average score three quarters of a place ahead of both Royal Thames YC
and Royal Ocean RC who were tied with an average score of third place.
The teams came
ashore and were greeted to a drinks reception by the hosts, Royal Thames YC,
and lots of chats were had about where places had been won and lost. With the
social engagement complete teams headed home to work on their strategy for the
next day’s racing.
had seen perfect conditions on the Solent with a solid breeze and sunshine,
Saturday was not keen to provide the same.
The teams were
towed back down to Osborne Bay to patiently wait for the forecast breeze to
arrive. It took a while but eventually enough breeze arrived for racing to get
underway. Challenging would be the polite term for the conditions on the day
with building tide and patchy breeze it was hard to stay at the front and place
changes were common throughout.
By the end of
the day Keith and his team had squeezed in an impressive 11 races, both Royal
Thames YC teams had made the best of the conditions with three wins each,
Ullswater YC had managed two wins in the tricky conditions with Royal Ocean RC,
Royal Dee YC and Edinburgh University SC taking the other race wins.
As the racing
ended for the day, Royal Thames YC now held first and third place overall with
Hayling Island SC separating the two teams. Wessex Exiles had slipped in to
fourth place with Royal Dee and Edinburgh University SC both on a charge
towards the top of the leader board.
A fantastic barbeque
was laid on by the Royal Thames for the sailors in the evening and there was a
great buzz among them as they traded hints and tips from the day’s racing.
As the sailors
headed out for the final day of racing it was tight at the top and everyone
knew that with 15 races on the schedule it could go anyone’s way. Everyone was
piling on the pressure and by half way through the final day there was no way
to predict who the top three would be let alone who would win.
In race 32 the
pressure was so intense that five boats were over the line early and no one was
prepared to return in case it was not them. Overnight leaders Royal Thames YC
(2) had finished their racing by race 30 and while they were technically in the
lead, Hayling Island SC, Wessex Exiles, Royal Yacht Squadron, Edinburgh
University and the other Royal Thames YC team could all still take first place.
Race 31 saw the
British University Sailing Association team take the win ahead of Hayling
Island SC making it now harder for them to take the overall win but still
achievable. Wessex Exiles threw away their chance of victory in race 32
counting an OCS in their score line.
A sixth place
in race 33 meant that Royal Thames YC (1) could now longer beat their fellow
club team or the Wessex Exiles and with Hayling Island SC taking third in the
same race they were now also ahead of the RTYC (1) team and victory was assured
for RTYC (2). A second place in race 35 for the Royal Yacht Squadron meant even
if they won race 36 they could no longer finish better than fifth, they did go
on to win the final race.
With the final
race complete, Royal Thames YC (2) had taken the win three points ahead of
had to be decided on a tie break of who had the most second places (both teams
had equal wins) with the Wessex Exiles coming out on top over Hayling Island
SC. Another tie was broken to confirm Royal Thames YC (1) in fourth place ahead
of the Royal Yacht Squadron.
Final order of
the day was for a quick pack up at Shepards Wharf Marina and prize giving where
Royal Thames Yacht Club where Angus Prentice applauded all of the clubs who had
taken part in the event as it was they who made it the success that it was.
Prizes were once again generously donated by British Keelboat League sponsors
Bainbridge International, Selden Mast and Banks Sails.
team from the Royal Thames Yacht Club of Henry Arnold, Ed Bayliss, Nick Cooney
and Matt Moseley also lifted the Theodore Pimm trophy.
After the prize
giving, winning skipper Arnold said: “It was classic British conditions: tide,
light winds, strong winds and in the end every team found themselves at the
front and back at some point. It came down to minimising mistakes and somehow
we managed to do that. Saturday was
particularly tough but Keith and the team did a great job running fair races in
the conditions and I think we all kept the umpires entertained.
really like to thank all the clubs that hosted events throughout the year and
the RYA for all support they have provided, we look forward to next year and
really hope to see more clubs joining the league.”
Photos by Sportography