It was British match racing title number five for Andy Beadsworth at the National Match Racing Finals which took place on October 29. Along with Adrian Stead, Ian Tillett and Nik Pearson, Beadsworth dominated the best of three decider at the Chernikeeff RYA National Match Racing Finals, fending off his Sydney crewman, Richard Sydenham, at a blustery and bitterly cold Royal Victoria Dock in the heart of London.
Although it is no recompense for Sydney, it confirms Andy’s position as Great Britain’s top match racing skipper and could be a catalyst for leading future British match racing crews in international competition.
After beating Ian Budgen two races to nil in his semi final, Richard Sydenham, Hugh Styles, John Tremlett and Adam May earned the right to square up against Beadsworth in the final, who had disposed of Ian Williams in a similar fashion in the second semi final.
Despite handing a penalty to Beadsworth in the pre start, Sydenham wasn’t able to stop his former helmsman overhauling him convincingly and handing back a penalty on the second run to walk away with the first race.
More of the same in race two and it was simply game, set and match to Beadsworth. “I’m relieved to have won, it was a very confrontational final in restricted water. We knew we had a risk of losing, especially as Richard was sailing so well but we were quietly confident we would win. Our biggest problem this week was ourselves, as we hit marks and missed the finish line,” commented Beadsworth after racing.
“It was a great day of autumn sailing,” added mainsheet trimmer Adrian Stead. “The wind out there today was anything from five to 25 knots so you had to be very alert as it could change dramatically in a matter of seconds. You had to be very focussed.”
For runner up Sydenham, it would have been the perfect start to a potential four-year Soling campaign to beat Beadsworth but his second place here with an untried team was still a gifted performance.
Like a number of members of the lottery funded World Class Performance squad, RYA Team GBR, he now has to wait for next month’s ISAF Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, to see if the Soling class retains its Olympic status.
“We were disappointed to havve been beaten, but very happy to have got this far considering that we hadn’t sailed together or practised before this week. My crew were fantastic and the whole event was a lot of fun. I am intending to helm a Soling and do whatever match racing turns up and I might crew for Andy again if he asks me very nicely,” joked Richard.
Also waiting for confirmation of the Olympic classes are Sydenham’s mainsheet trimmer Hugh Styles and bowman Adam May, who were sixth in Sydney in the Tornado class and are awaiting confirmation on the Athen’s line up to plan their assault on an Olympic title.
“I plan to maintain a full time sailing career with Athens the ultimate goal,” explained Styles. “I am undecided as to which class as yet but the Tornado is unfinished business. In the meantime I would love to get involved in more big boat sailing and racing here with Richard has been a great experience and platform for that.”
In the sudden death third/fourth play off, 1997 Champion Ian Williams, who is funded on the UK Sport World Class Performance Programme to further his match racing talent, closed the door on Ian Budgen in the start. From there it was a mere formality for Williams who could not disguise his disappointment at being an observer in the finals for the first time in four years but was graceful in defeat. “Unsurprisingly I’m disappointed. It wasn’t ideal to meet Andy in the semi finals but he is the best and he deserved to win,” said Ian.
Meanwhile, Ian Budgen, who was the man to beat the previous day, could only muster fourth overall. “We weren’t so flash today. Yesterday we won all the matches we thought we could but in those against the experienced match racers I