Vince Horey and Vyv Townend win 34th Hoo Freezer event

The 34th Hoo Freezer, sponsored by Singer & Friedlander, was held over the weekend 26-27 February. The event is hosted and organised by Hoo Ness Yacht Club with assistance from Wilsonian Sailing Club. Other clubs on the Medway, the Scouts, the Coast Guard and the St John’s Ambulance provide safety boats and medical cover. The usual format was followed, a practice race on Saturday, the Hoo Freezer on Sunday, a lapping course and results based on average lap times.

A total of 32 boats entered the practice race and were treated to a chilly Force 2 to 3 northerly breeze. Neil Ashby and Roz Allen (RS 800) stormed into an early lead and although Simon and Mark Owens (49ER) eased ahead on the second round, Ashby/Allen comfortably won on corrected time to retain the ‘Sun Wharf Cup’ that they won last year. Meanwhile Chris Lewis/Jane Beaumont sailed their Merlin Rocket to perfection to secure runners-up spot with Malcolm Levey (Phantom) coming from behind in the second round to claim third spot.

Appropriately a wintry scene greeted the 57 competitors on Sunday with a dusting of overnight snow and sub-zero temperatures. A north-easterly brought further flurries of snow and gradually increased to Force 5-6 for the early afternoon start, to give testing conditions and keep the safety boats fully occupied rescuing crew and boats. Of the 41 boats that decided to sign on just 19 succeeded in recording a finish, the others returning early to the warmth of the clubhouse. The Owens made the most spectacular exit, they came flying out of the harbour with all sails set but it was short-lived as the whole rig collapsed in the water to bring to an end their campaign.

The fast handicap boats were first away and Simon Allen (International Canoe) made a perfect start to lead at the windward mark but Ashby/Allen surged ahead on the first spinnaker reach with Vince Horey/Vyv Townend (Fireball) chasing hard behind. Ashby/Allen held position over the three laps for line honours with Allen, in spite of the occasional dip, finishing six minutes later. However, after two rounds, Horey/Townend claimed victory on corrected average lap time, with Allen relegated to second place and Ashby/Allen to third. With the other fast handicap boats struggling to cope with the conditions the medium handicap boats filled the next six places. Roger Gibbs/Nick Stewart won the battle of the Wayfarers to secure 4th prize with Brian Lamb/Brian Warwick settling for 8th . Tim Ellis beat team-mate Nick Van Tienen in the other Laser Radial for 5th and 7th prizes. While Chris Catt and Mark Heather (RS200), Rien Zilvoid (Blaze) and Eric and Richard Styles (Hornet) picked up 6th, 9th and 10th prizes respectively.

The Race Officer’s Prize was awarded to Joseph MacGregor for perseverance – continuing for over 100 minutes to complete the course in his Topper.

After braving the elements while watching all the excitement aboard Richard Cassim’s motor yacht, Susan Haydock the Mayor of Medway presented the prizes. As Mayor of Medway, Susan Haydock is Admiral of the River Medway, a position recognised by the Admiralty and the only Lady Admiral in the country.

Overall Results/Prizes

Hoo Freezer (Hoo Freezer Cup)

1st Fireball 14870 Vince Horey/Vyv Townend (King George SC)

2nd Int. Canoe 278 Simon Allen (Hayling Island SC)

3rd RS 800 838 Neil Ashby/Roz Allen (Wilsonian SC)

4th Wayfarer 9471 Roger Gibbs/Nick Stewart (Medway YC)

5th Laser Radial 173486 Tim Ellis (Downs SC)

6th RS 200 872 Chris Catt/Mark Heather (Wilsonian SC)

7th Laser Radial 171716 Nick Van Tienen (Stokes Bay SC)

8th Wayfarer 10201 Brian Lamb/Brian Warwick (Wilsonian SC)

9th Blaze 715 Rien Zilvoid (Whistable YC)

10th Hornet 2142 Eric/Richard Styles (Downs SC)

Saturday Practice Race (Sun Wharf Cup)

1st RS 800 838 Neil Ashby/Roz Allen (Wilsonian SC)

2nd Merlin Rocket 3582 Chris Lewis/Jane Beaumont (Whitstable YC)

3rd Phantom 1153 Malcolm Levey (Wilsonian SC)

Highest placed club team

Medway YC

Martin James/Vaughan Everett (Wayfarer), Simon Winn/John Player (Wayfarer), Roger Gibbs/Nick Stewart (Wayfarer)

Highest placed class team

Laser Radial Tim Ellis (Downs SC), Nick Van Tienen (Stokes Bay SC), Andrew Smith (Wilsonian SC)

First Youth Sailor (Hoo Marina Cup)

Tim Ellis (Downs SC)

Highest placed boat Saturday and Sunday combined (Gransden Marine Trophy)

RS 800 838 Neil Ashby/Roz Allen (Wilsonian SC)

Race Officers Prize

Topper 44808 Joseph MacGregor (Bewl Valley SC)