Penultimate event in the Holt RYA Ranking Series 2004 delivers close racing
Desperate for points in the Holt RYA National Ranking Series 2004, Olympic class sailors converged on Rutland Water over the 6-7 November for some incredibly close racing.
Rutland Sailing Club hosted four of the Olympic classes, the Finn, Europe, 470 and Mistral and one Paralympic class, the 2.4mR. Five races were sailed in light and shifty weather, conditions that are inherent to sailing on inland waters.
The weekend was the penultimate round in the Holt RYA Ranking Series and one that helps determine the level of funding given to sailors. Therefore the fight to be ranked first at the close of 2004 was heating up, on what was otherwise, a cool and misty morning in Rutland.
In the 470 class Nic Asher and Elliot Willis dominated the event on paper winning all five races. However, on the water sailing was much closer with Asher and Willis fending off stiff competition from established 470 sailors, Neil Marsden and Graham Nelson who finished second winning the Holt prize and Graham Vials and Bevis Field in third.
Also racing was Barcelona Olympian; Paul Brotherton crewed by Iain Calder. Racing a brand-new 470 the pair had little time to prepare for the first race and suffered a speed deficit. However, by Sunday a small amount of boat preparation overnight soon saw them racing at the front of the fleet. Athens 2004 Olympian, Katherine Hopson was also out in force finishing 8th with ISAF Youth Worlds medallist, Pippa Wilson. The pair also collected a trophy for finishing first women’s team.
After winning the weekend, Asher said: “A solid turn out of 17 boats in the 470 class meant a strong pedigree of sailors were racing, so winning the event was a great achievement. Despite the lack of wind we all had some fantastic racing that I really enjoyed.”
The Finn class, also with 17 boats racing, were relying on their tactical knowledge rather than their superior strength to win the weekend. Going into the penultimate event Matt Howard topped the ranking table from Mark Andrews and RYA Olympic Performance Squad sailor Ed Wright. Fellow squad member, Chris Brittle, was also hoping that he could repeat his performance in Weymouth where he won the previous Holt RYA Ranking event.
Despite finishing 12th in the last race, Matt Howard had already done enough to win the event when the race officer abandoned the last race due to no wind. Winning three races meant that he won the weekend just one point in front of Wright and 12 points in front of Brittle. Simon Childs, who finished fourth, won the Holt prize for best placed non – RYA funded sailor.
The Europe sailors were under added pressure with the event also being used as their inland championships. Subsequently twenty boats were entered, a record entry for the 2004 series in the Europe class.
Laura Baldwin was in her element sailing in the light conditions that she became so used to during the Olympic Games in Athens. Discarding a second she won every other race, some by nearly a leg. The fight for second and third was much closer as Andrea Brewster and Lizzie Vickers went head to head with Brewster finally finishing on top by just one point. Winner of the Holt prize was Ross Harvey from Hayling Island Sailing Club who finished 5th overall.
In the Mistral class the fleet had to work the hardest of all the sailors, generating power in their sails by consistently pumping around the race course. Maintaining his stake on top of the ranking table was Adam Pepelasis who won every race from James Bullied in second and Paul Sibley in third. Adam also took home the Holt prize.
The Paralympic 2.4mR class had an excellent turnout with 12 boats racing, four sailing under the flag of Rutland Sailing Club. There was the added excitement as this was the last in their Holt RYA Ranking Series and any number of sailors were capable of winning the weekend and the series.
Helena Lucas and Peter David Cook, winner of the Holt prize, convincingly finished first and second. However, the fight for the remaining podium place was much closer. Megan Pascoe, George Barker and Athens 2004 Paralympian, Alan Smith were all tied on eighteen points but it was Pascoe who pipped the men at the post by counting a first on her scorecard. Before the event Pascoe and Barker were both on equal points in the ranking table but her narrow victory at Rutland meant that Pascoe wins the Holt RYA Ranking Series 2004.
With so many up and coming sailors hoping to use the event as a springboard into the RYA Transitional Squad and an opportunity for funding, top coach, Jim Saltonstall was on hand to help. Following the racing with a camera, Saltonstall led the sailors through their mistakes and noted their strengths on film in a video de-brief at the end of the day.
RYA Olympic Development Squad Manager, Barrie Edgington was particularly pleased with the amount of sailors coming up through the ranks saying: “Throughout the year many young up and coming sailors have performed at a high standard challenging the more experienced sailors and Megan winning the Holt RYA series in the 2.4mR is just one example. Rutland was another good turnout for the dinghy classes and was a well-run event with the support of Rutland Sailing Club. With funding for international regattas at stake the last round at Warsash is poised to be an exciting finish.”
Nic Asher/Elliot Willis, WOBYC, (1,1,1,1,(1,)) 4 pts
Neil Marsden/Graham Nelson, Blackpool, ((5),2,2,3,3) 10 pts
Graham Vials/Bevis Field, RYA, (8,(9),3,2,4) 17 pts
Adam Pepelasis, (1,1,1,1,(1)) 4 pts
James Bullied, Hollowell, ((3),3,2,2,2) 9 pts
Paul Sibley, (2,2,3,3,(3)) 10 pts
Laura Baldwin, Spinnaker, (1,1,1,1,(1)) 4 pts
Andrea Brewster, Frensham Pond (2,2,3,6,(6)) 13 pts
Lizze Vickers, HISC (3,(5),4,3,4 14 pts
Matt Howard, LOSSC, (1,1,3,1,(12)) 6 pts
Ed Wright, BCSC, (,2,2,2,(4),1) 7 pts
Chris Brittle, ((11),9,5,2,2) 18 pts
Helena Lucas, RYA, (1,1,1,2,(10)) 5 pts
Peter David Cook, RYA, (2,2,1,(3),2) 7 pts
Megan Pascoe, Weir Wood ((8),6,4,7,1) 18 pts