Sue Pelling, editor of Yachting World's website, was pitched against three other competitors on the indoor pool at the Schroders London Boat Show yesterday.
Sue Pelling, editor of Yachting World’s website, was pitched against three other competitors on the indoor pool at the Schroders London Boat Show yesterday.
The quartet took to the water to compete in the RYA UK Sailing Media Challenge. Sue battled it out in 30 knots of inconsistent wind against three media rivals from Practical Boat Owner, Yachts and Yachting and National Boatshows.
Sue, who is best known on the dinghy circuit as a National 12 sailor, rose to the challenge of helming a Laser Pico in the gusty and extremely noisy conditions created by a bank of powerful fans in the Watersports Arena.
All four Picos raced on a course set around marks at either end of the 70m pool and between a gate in the middle in a frantic practice session before a series of two-boat match races commenced. In the first of these Sue was head-to-head with Tornado sailor Dan Taylor from National Boat Shows. At first she looked well placed for the line, despite barely being able to hear the countdown, but then she caught one of the quirky gusts between fans and capsized in the chest-high water just seconds before the start of the race, giving Dan a lead he never surrendered.
There was initial confusion over rules of racing as competitors struggled to hear the referee over the deafening roar from the fans. As they got used to the conditions the racing got more exciting and the gybes smoother, although the ‘corner of death’ at the entrance end of the pool, where the wind was particularly fluky, gave everyone problems, particularly Mark Jardine from Yachts and Yachting who, after a brilliant warm-up, threw it all away there twice in his first race. On one occasion the masthead even got stuck in spectator seats immediately downwind, a hazard rarely encountered by these experienced sailors!
Thanks to David Harding’s (Practical Boat Owner) avoidance of the starting gate, Sue stormed to victory in her second race. But she was then caught just over the line in another race against Dan Taylor, the sheer brute force of the fans blowing her Pico across despite it being head to wind.
“I don’t think I sailed particularly well but it was really difficult in those conditions,” Sue commented afterwards. “You can’t hear and have to really concentrate on getting timing right for the start. It was incredibly hard work, much harder than I expected. I would definitely do it again but with a practice first.”
The remaining races confirmed Dan Taylor to take equal first place with David Harding, and Mark Jardine coming in third just ahead of an exhausted but still smiling Sue.