The JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge got off to a great start over the weekend of the 27-28 November at Queen Mary SC

The JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge got off to a great start over the weekend of the 27-28 November at Queen Mary SC with a first round win for Simon Shaw and his crew of Simon Fisher, Jeremy Elliot and Alec Fraser, who will progress through to the final which takes place in March.

The inaugural event took place in the RYA’s fleet of J80s and a total of nine teams were invited to take part. This high standard Grade 3 matchracing event attracted a European feel with six experienced British teams, as well as an Italian, Danish and Russian team.

The format for the weekend was a round robin where everyone had the opportunity to sail against each other once, followed by a semi-final and a final which both consisted of best of three races. Boat speed was as critical as match racing skills on Saturday, with patchy light winds of about 5 knots. Following the close of Saturday’s racing, Simon Shaw and Ian Budgen both had completed the round robin with five wins and three loses, and the Russian team, skippered by Andrew Arbuzov, had only lost one race although still had his round robin to complete the following day.

The weather improved on Sunday with similar light winds of 5-10 knots, which were more even across the racecourse. The round robin was completed, with the most exciting racing in the final round. Mark Campbell-James, skipper of the JPMorgan Fleming-sponsored Farr 52 Bear of Britain, beat Russian Andrew Arbuzov, after inflicting a penalty on the Russian in the pre-start.

Despite this loss, the Russian was the winner of the round robin with six wins, securing his place in the semi-final. The other places were hard fought as, at the end of the round robin, five teams had five race wins meaning a tie-break rule had to be applied to complete the three remaining teams that would go through to the next round. This resulted in Mads Ebler (DEN), Simon Shaw (GBR) and Ian Budgen (GBR) joining Arbuzov (RUS) in the semi-final.

It was an exciting afternoon with all racing being best of three and all going down to the wire in the semi-final. Arbuzov chose to sail against Budgen in the best of three race semi-finals, leaving Ebler against Shaw. The fifth and sixth place sail off was a battle between the British brothers Mark and Paul Campbell-James.

The Russian lost the semi-final against Budgen in the last 100 metres of the final race after incurring a penalty, as well as losing his damage deposit after a collision earlier in the day, and Shaw got the better of Ebler, which meant that Shaw and Budgen would go head-to-head in the final. Mark Campbell-James came out the winner in the battle of the brothers, after numerous penalties being awarded, he finished the weekend in fifth place. This left Budgen and Shaw to battle it out in the final.

Only two races were needed for the final, again best of three, with Shaw and his crew victorious in both of the races and securing their place in the final. Ebler defeated Arbuzov in the sail off for third and fourth place.

Winning helmsman, Simon Shaw was very pleased to be going through: “It’s great to win this weekend as, when we arrived, we were very impressed with the standard of other teams. We sailed a very good regatta and were really happy to take the win. As a crew we’re extremely pleased to be racing in this event as there has been a real shortage of high quality sailing events in UK, and hopefully with the help of sponsors like JPMorgan Fleming and the hard work of David Campbell-James, his team and the RYA, we can make this series a real success. We’re all looking forward to the Final, and if the standard at this event is anything to go by, it will be a tough competition.”

In conjunction with the RYA the JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge began on 27th November 2004 and will continue through to the Final in March 2005. The race weekends are being held at the Queen Mary Sailing Club, Middlesex. More than 250 sailors from across Europe are expected to enter into one of the seven JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge race weekends, in the lead up to the Final in March 2005.

The next JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge weekend takes place on 18-19 December 2004.

Final Results

1, Simon Shaw – Simon Fisher, Alec Fraser, Jez Elliot (GBR)

2, Ian Budgen, David Lenz, Toby Iles, Ian Moore (GBR)

3, Mads Ebler, Frederick Sparvath, Niels Kinch, Chris Pedersen (DEN)