David Hitchcock and Ian Nicholson win RS K6 nationals at Yarmouth 22/9/06

A full 10-race series across four days of 20 degree sunshine with between five and 25 knots of breeze – the 2006 RS K6 Nationals in Yarmouth was one to send postcards home about.

David Hitchcock and Ian Nicholson came well prepared to defend their 2005 title, but the first day showed that that they were going to have to work harder than they probably felt they did last year. Two windward leewards in Christcurch Bay left them without a bullet and instead level with two other Hayling boats – 505 legend Bill Masterman and Paul Young. In fact the first race made it look as if the form book was going to have to be completely re-written when it was won by a relatively new face on the K6 circuit (but regular RS 200 sailor) Steve Blake from Carsington, crewed by David Lucas.

The fleet were back out to Christchurch Bay for day two, carried by the ebb tide and a very gentle northerly. And after a postponement due to lack of wind Bill Masterman and Dan Mountfield claimed the second race by half a boat length. Still no bullet for the 2005 champions, and they were going to have to continue to wait as locals Myles Mence, Glynn Lock and Judith French finally found their stride and took the well dressed, Italian inspired, Artigiano to it’s first win in race four. Martin Wadhams and crew decided fleet entertainment was required and obliged by hooking an unfeasibly long lobster line for what seemed several rounds worth of the course. Extra entertainment was laid-on if you then passed close enough to hear the on-board debate going on between those (ok?one person) in favour of preserving a racing reputation and cutting the line, and those more interested in preserving a fisherman’s livelihood. The fisherman won, and the fate of a very dizzy lobster is now in the hands of a local restaurant.

Now, for the last race of the day, and right on cue for their ‘K6 speed’ fleet seminar, the 2005 Champions claimed their first bullet. The round the cans race was billed as “taking the fleet back to Yarmouth from Christchurch Bay with a few zig-zags on the way”, but failed to mention zig-zagging well beyond Yarmouth, so it was tired legs propping-up the Royal Solent bar that night.

With the bit firmly between their teeth, David Hitchcock and Ian Nicholson took the first two races on the third day. This had a profound effect on Masterman who decided to launch himself off the back of his boat at 15 knots with the kite up, leaving Mountfield to pick-up the pieces. Paul Botterill and Andrew Cresdee did the noble thing and stood by to give Masterman marks out of ten for his breast stroke. Redress for Botterill and Cresdee ensured they eventually secured a well-deserved win in the ‘Silver Fleet’.

Day four saw the freshest breeze with between 20-25 knots, and the K6s singing tunes an orchestra would be proud of and an insurance company concerned about. The heavier crews reveled in the conditions, but combined 150kg ‘lightweights’ Gareth Watkins and Giles Chipperfield showed blistering speed downwind and held their own upwind giving them two fourths, and demonstrating what great technique and control can do.

Despite breaking their main halyard, Hitchcock and Nicholson had done enough to have the 2006 Nationals title in the bag, just three points ahead of Mence, Lock and French in Artigiano.