A total of 28 boats including two Irish visitors contested round three of the B14 Eurocup series that kicked off in Hayling Bay in a perfect Force 3 easterly breeze on Saturday 25 August. The steady wind brought those with good upwind speed to the fore and Matt Searle and Rich Bell were never headed to take the first race of the day ahead of Simon Nelson and Andy Ramus and Mark Barnes and Simon Reynolds. Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer took the second race with Steve Fisher and Neil Barber, having missed the first race, in second. Matt Searle and Rich Bell again made the podium and Matt Snedker and Dave Dobrijevic finished in fourth.
Making it onto the podium for the first time in race three were Jonny Ellis and Spike Daniels who held a comfortable margin for the whole race ahead of Mark Barnes and Simon Reynolds and the consistent pair of Matt Searle and Rich Bell. This consistency gave Matt and Rich a comfortable lead of three points at the end of day one over Jonny and Spike and Dave Hayes and Sean Dwyer.
Day two was a very different story with a patchy northerly Force 2, forecast to drop, with the potential of a sea breeze to complicate matters. Race four was underway at 1100 and the snakes and ladders began. Leaders at the first mark were Jonny and Spike followed very closely by Matt and Rich. These two were swallowed on the run as the patchy conditions compressed the fleet. As the breeze became even more variable another tense lap was completed with huge gains and losses being made. Recovering from a disastrous run were the overnight leaders to finish seventh. Matt Snedker and Dave Dobrijevic were promoted to first place after Steve Fisher and Neil Barber, first across the line were disqualified for OCS. Anthony Yorke and Simon West made it to second place and a recovering Jonny and Spike made it onto the podium again.
Race five was then sailed against a backdrop of thunder and lightning in a Force 4. Early leaders Simon Nelson and Andy Ramus capsized to allow through Jamie Mears and Gemma Mitchell who faded in the closing stages to let through Dave and Sean and then newly crowned Firefly Champ, Jono Pank and Richard Edwards. The top two overall at this stage, Jonny and Spike and Matt and Rich failed to finish race five.
As suddenly as the wind had appeared, it disappeared and race six started in a Force 1-2. Wriggling clear by the end of the first run were Jonny and Spike but a 30-degree windshift to the east narrowed the tactical options for the chasing pack on the second beat. On the subsequent run the wind dropped completely, shifted 180 degrees, dropped again and then blew three knots from the north-west. This cut the leader’s margin to a few boat-lengths with the next six boats overlapped as they crossed the finish line. Matt and Rich made it to second place while Neil Upton-Brown, standing in for Tim Peters, steered David Cunningham into third place. In a flat calm and heavy rain, Race 7 was then re-scheduled, to be sailed the next day, after race 10. So at the end of day two, with one discard, Jonny and Spike held a one point lead over Matt and Rich with Dave and Sean at three points.
Day three brought a very shifty, gusty and fragile-feeling Force 2-3 from the north. Event leaders Jonny and Spike struck again in race eight leading at the first mark, to be overtaken by Simon Nelson and Andy Ramus on the run, re-taking the lead on the second beat to lead down the run and take the win from Simon and Andy. Nils Joliffe and Jon Branch, the Inland champions, made the podium for the first time. The breeze became gradually lighter and less predicable, which was reflected in people’s fortunes. Jonny and Spike regarded themselves as very lucky to emerge from un-promising starts to seal the series win with a first and second in the next two races with one left to sail. Consistency in these races dictated the final prizewinners; Matt and Rich scoring fifth and third, Dave and Sean second and fourth and