Mike Hennings and team win IRM nationals at Royal Southern last weekend 25/7/07

The 2007 IRM National Championship was hosted by the Royal Southern YC over the weekend of the 20-22 July. Considering the appalling conditions that the middle of England was suffering the weather in the Solent started fairly wet but improved dramatically so that by Sunday competitors enjoyed ideal racing conditions. With several regattas taking place off the north shore PRO. Peter Bateson took the fleet to the east and set windward/leeward courses near the Burgess Salmon buoy.

On Friday afternoon the fleet completed three races. ‘Werewolf’ (Jerry Otter) rounded the top mark just ahead of ‘Exabyte’ (Shaun Frohlich). These two extended their lead down the run. The RYA Volvo Keelboat crew on ‘John Merricks’ suffered a major problem with the spinnaker drop at the end of lap 1 and retired leaving ‘Fortis Excel’ to make sure everyone got home safely.

Race 2 started in a similar vein with ‘Werewolf’ rounding the top mark just ahead of Jack Pringle’s ‘Fraxious’ and the main body of the fleet. They kept this lead down the run but the others were hunting them down slowly. The second round proved to be crucial. The fleet was hit by a rainsquall and when the visibility cleared both the Hennings on board ‘Alice II’ and Agne Nilsson helming ‘Fortis Excel’ had passed them. ‘Alice II’ held off ‘Fortis Excel’ to finish 3 seconds ahead at the line and take the victory. ‘Fortis Excel’ went one better in the final race of the day and took the winning gun ahead of ‘Alice II’. ‘Werewolf’ pushed too hard, touched a mark, failed to clear herself from the penalty and retired from the race to drop down the overall table.

Saturday proved to be a great day of racing. Four races were sailed and there were three different winners. The RYA Volvo team on ‘John Merricks’ showed the rest of the fleet a clean pair of heels in the first race. In the next two races the 1st to 4th places were exactly the same, which considering the closeness of the racing was very surprising. ‘Werewolf’ held off ‘Alice II’, Fortis Excel’ and ‘John Merricks’.

In the final race Shaun Frohlich on ‘Exabyte’ found some extra speed to win his first race of the weekend. After two days racing ‘Alice II’ held a slight lead but with two races to go any one of four boats had a chance of winning.

The conditions on Sunday could not have been better with sunshine and a reasonable, steady breeze. The first race on Sunday really turned the screws on the leaders. Agne Nilsson (Fortis Excel) won while the Hennings could only manage 5th and so, with a discard now allowed, the final race was crucial. After a clean start ‘Alice II’ and ‘Fortis Excel’ managed to get ahead of the rest and that was the order in which they finished. This gave the overall title to the Hennings with Nilsson 2nd and ‘Werewolf’, who won the most races, in 3rd place.

Speaking after the event Mike Hennings commented: “Everything came together this weekend, the crew performed exceptionally well and without the team work and consistency we showed as well as the quality of our new UK sails this would not have been possible.”

Overall Results
1st Alice II, Simon and Mike Henning 16 pts
2nd Fortis Excel, Agne Nilsson 20 pts
3rd Werewolf, Jerry Otter 22 pts