Steve Goacher and Phile Evans win Flying 15 Europeans at Hayling 17/7/06
The final day of the ROK Flying Fifteen European Championship at Hayling Island SC on Friday was the toughest yet, with a north-westerly blowing at 16 to 22 knots under yet another clear blue sky. With just one race to sail, the overall placings were tight, with the leading three boats all able to take the overall title.
The race got away at the second attempt with a black flag. Unlike Thursday, it wasn’t clear where the leaders would come from until well up the first beat, when the first decent right hander brought the leaders in from the right. It was still snakes and ladders all the way to the top with big gains and losses as the wind swung one way and then the other.
First round the top were Simon Kneller and Dave Lucas, closely followed by Mike Hart and Richard Rigg, then Greg Wells and Tim Hancock and the overall leaders Barry Parkin and Mark Darling. Steve Goacher and Phile Evans looked to be out of it in the mid teens.
On the run, Hart and Rigg got through to the lead, but with Parkin and Darling only needing to be fifth to win the Championship they were still looking good at fourth.
The second beat was another tough one with the force five to six wind swinging through over twenty degrees. Place changes were happening all the time and it wasn’t till the top mark that anyone could be sure of their position. Hart and Rigg still led, with Kneller and Lucas second, Wells and Hancock third and Parkin and Darling hanging on to their overall led in fourth.
On the second run though, things got much more interesting. Goacher and Evans, having just got into the top ten at the windward mark, made the most of a huge gust to take 250 metres out of the leaders and move straight into second.
That left everything to play for on the last triangle. Up the beat there was little change, but Parkin and Darling hit the top mark in fourth and dropped to fifth doing their turns. There were now two ding dong battles going on, with Hart and Rigg versus Goacher and Evans at the front and Parkin and Darling trying to hang on to fifth which would still leave them as Champions.
Round the gybe mark and the final reach looked too tight for spinnakers, but half way down the wind shifted and all the kites went back up despite another major gust.
Goacher and Evans managed to get the jump on Hart and Rigg to take the race win. Meanwhile, Parkin and Darling missed their opportunity to hoist early and lost five places to boats going through to leeward and with it their Championship.
On the last leg three different boats had been in Championship winning position, but it was Goacher and Evans who wound up worthy winners from Hart and Rigg and then Parkin and Darling who had led the whole week from day 1 but eventually had to settle for third overall.
1. Goacher / Evans 18 pts
2. Hart / Rigg 19 pts
3. Parkin / Darling 20 pts
4. Apthorp / Richards 36pts
5. Jameson / Grant 42 pts