Mirror Nationals - 22nd to 25th August 2016
Lots of winners! Image Mary Pudney
National Champions Bertie Fisher and Felix Kent at the prizegiving. Image Mary Pudney
Mirror Nationals REPORT
Mirror Nationals 2016 supported by Strutt and Parker
Itchenor Sailing Club is no stranger to world class sailing, boasting National, International and Olympic medallists among its members. There's Ian Walker, winner of the 2014-15 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, double Olympic silver medallist, double Mirror European Champion and National Champion in 2012. Ben Saxton and Sophie Ainsworth went Rio this year, and George Yeoman and Tim Saxton, with others, won the RYA Team Racing championships in March. Add in excellent race management, super socials, and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere and you have a super club to host the International Mirror Class National Championships for 2016.
56 boats signed up, with Dave Wade, multi National and European champion, Simon Hiscocks, Olympic silver medallist, and Martin Jones, International 14 winner, among them. Teams came from Cornwall, Scotland and all places in between. Ages ranged from 6 to 60, highlighting the versatility of the boat. As Event Director Tom Trevelyan said, “The Mirror is the best boat you can sail to develop all round racing skills. A thoroughbred”. There were all combinations of age and gender- a 13 yr old National champion team, and men, women and children sailing together throughout the fleet. Stiff competition and strength in depth meant little room for error. Consistency paid.
Day 1 started off bright and sunny with a nice breeze blowing in from the East. After the daily briefing and a brief pause the fleet set off, with plenty of sun-cream and water, down towards East Head with spinnakers up making it quite a sight to see. The first race had a general recall, but was soon underway on a very true course with neither sider showing much bias. A leader was quickly established, as Tim Rush led the fleet round the rest of the course and went on to win the race with his crew, Ellie Rush. In second was Melissa Heppell and Amelie Hiscocks, and third went to Angus and Florence Hemmings.
The second race started off with another general recall, after which the Race committee decided to put up the Black Flag, which did its job and the fleet stayed back off the line. The race started fairly smoothly, but the infamous Itchenor tide had other ideas causing many, including locals, to overstand the windward mark. First place was strongly contested by many with Melissa Heppell and Amelie Hiscocks coming out victorious, David and Imogen Wade second, and Angus and Florence in third.
The third race was preceded by a trek down to Hayling Island as the Winner bank was no longer a major threat. This time the fleet was set a windward-leeward course, with a leeward gate and constant place changing creating much excitement as the race was fought out. After some great tactical decisions, Bertie Fisher and Felix Kent went on to win the race with a clear lead leaving the rest of the fleet to battle it out. The next places were taken by Archie Grant and Maddie Hantrais, and David and Imogen Wade.
After a tiring day the combination of the tide and the unusual wind direction made it a very long sail home and everyone was very glad for the refreshments and shade available at Itchenor Sailing Club. All in all it was a great day of very competitive racing.
Bring on tomorrow! Don’t forget the sun-cream.
It’s 11am, the pool party is raging, music pumping, not a flapping sail in sight. No wind, nowhere to go. Everyone hoping for a breeze later, boats are rigged and ready. There are worse places to be. Race 4 was about to get underway but a last minute windshift caused a short postponement. That and the tide mean the line is shifted.
2 general recalls later and we have moved to the Black Flag. Race four is under way.
First windward mark it is Martin and Henry Jones, Melissa Heppel and Amelie Hiscocks from Wpnsa, 3rd Chris and Alex Balding from Tamesis. Left side of the beat the only way to go, the only way to get tidal shelter. 2nd windward mark, 1st Martin and Henry Jones ...
2nd Melissa heppell Amelie Hiscocks
And so it ended- Jones, Heppell, Baldwin. Good to get a race at all in 5-7 knots of breeze and a strong flood. 51 happy customers getting round the course.
2pm- AP over A. All home for tea and cake. Overall so far it’s Heppel leading, Bertie Fisher and Felix Kent second, Angus and Florence Hemmings of Stokes Bay third. Here’s to tomorrow.
Dawn- no wind. Breakfast- no wind. Start time- no wind. Imagine the mixed feelings of over 100 competitors, not to mention 40 race, safety boat and shore team members.
Bravely, race officer Peter Taylor called for the fleet to come, and was rewarded with a stable 5-8 knot breeze. After another two generals, the black flag got them away. Again, left was the way to go and first at the top was 13 yr old Bertie Fisher and Felix Kent, ahead of all the grown ups . And so it continued. Never headed, they led all the way for two slow rounds before a welcome S flag gave them the race. Not far behind was Nigel Thomas and Sam Jones from Hill Head, and then Tim and Ellie Rush.
No sooner had the last boat finished than the wind went away. Moving to the now well covered Pilsey Sands, the wind faltered up and down. Race 6 got away but after over an hour no one had reached the first wing mark and the welcome N flag appeared. Back to Itchenor’s splendid regatta tea and prizegiving.
So ends a wonderful 4 days, a worthy UK Mirror National Championships, and a very worthy 2016 National Champion team, Bertie Fisher and Felix Kent.