A total of 37 420s turned out for this year’s Tiger Trophy event at Rutland SC

Despite a terrible weather forecast, 37 420s joined the 130-strong Tiger Trophy fleet at Rutland on 2-3 February to get their first of the new ranking points. The wind blew strongly from the south and was fiendishly gusty, but more than half the 420 fleet managed to finish at least three of the four races. The top boats were Nick and Elliott, Alex and Paul and Ben and Nick in 4, 5 and 6 places overall. The next biggest class was the 29ers with 24 boats, and although Alex Hopson and Nick Murphy in a 29er won the meeting, their class overall performance was not nearly so successful

The fleet was divided into two groups with the 420s in the slower group. Race Officer David Wilkins set a course that kept the fleet towards the club in the more sheltered water, giving the watchers a great view of the speed and capsizes. The course was a square with a long run down past the church and a beat back towards the club along the other shore.

Ben Field and Nick Hutton set the pace in the first race. They moved ahead of Alex Cherry with Paul Campbell James crewing and the pair of them were able to take first and second place overall. Back in the pack many people were struggling. The wind was 5-6 with big shifting gusts. Many people found it quite impossible with large numbers of capsizes. So much so that only 67 of the 130 entries managed to finish. But 5 of the first six boats were 420s with only Hopson and Murphy getting into the top positions.

For the next two races the course was moved a bit further from the shore to try and make it easier. There were still only 60 or so finishers, but for some odd reason the 420s were not able to get so near the front. In race two Nick Asher and Elliott Willis were the best finishers in 10th with Ben and Nick in 12. Jeni Tod and Sarah Paramore gave the girls a boost at 7th 420 in 25th place. Race three was just as awkward with Nick and Elliot again the best finisher in 15th, just ahead of Alex and Paul. In both these races the top places went to three 29ers, two Vortexes and a 505.

The Tiger Trophy dinner in aid if the John Merricks sailing trust fund was great. Everybody was in their smart dresses or dinner jackets. The bangers and mash was up to its usual standard and the band was great. The hall shut at midnight so most sailors were fit for more of the same on Sunday morning.

For the long pursuit race the course was spread out a bit more, using the arm of the lake to the west of the club as well as the area down towards the church. Really it was a race between the 420s and the 29ers with line honours going to Alex Hopson, by only a few metres. But the 420s had the most boats at the front, with 6 in the first 10.

The 420s started early and quickly passed the few non-trapeze boats. Nick and Elliott raced out to a huge lead and just kept going away. Paul and Alex kept nearest but had to fight off the other boats. It was still very windy; Christina Bassadone and Katherine Hopson broke their clew outhaul when lying fourth. Nick Cherry and Richard Evans wiped out spectacularly when their rudder broke on a spinnaker blast.

With 15 minutes to go Nick and Elliot looked safe, they was so far ahead of everyone else. But Hopson and Murphy were flying too and had nearly a leg over the rest of the 29ers. Then the wind dropped slightly and the 29ers were able to get more out of the reaches. With clear wind the 29er flew around the last lap to pass Nick and Elliot with about two minutes left. Alex and Paul were able to hang on to third place before the 29ers of the young Dave Hall, Johnny Frazer and Jenny Taylor in fourth, fifth and sixth. Neil Croussard and Sam Pascoe, Athol and Eamon King, Sam Carter and Paul Davies and Ben and Nick filled seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth with Jeni and Sarah again the fastest ladies in 13th. Of the 69 finishers 26 were 420s.