by Roy Winnett
Hoo Freezer - Photo: Jay Barker http://www.hooness.org.uk/ - Hoo Freezer
The 40th Hoo Freezer was held over the weekend 19 and 20th February, hosted by Hoo Ness YC and organised with assistance from Wilsonian SC.
Hoo Marina were the main sponsors of the event with generous contributions from MDL, Gillingham Marina and Sheppard Neame. Other sailing clubs, the scouts, St John’s Ambulance and Coast Guard provided safety cover.
The customary format was followed, practice race on Saturday and the Hoo Freezer on Sunday, with two starts, fast handicap PY less than 1000 and medium handicap PY 1001 – 1160. Courses were set to make full use of the river over top of the tide and give a variety of leeward, windward reaching legs. Entries were down on previous years to just 62 boats.
Saturday dawned with overcast skies, persistent drizzle and a cold southeasterly breeze. 40 boats were on the start line but regrettably the wind gradually dropped away and just 21 boats managed to finish within an extended time limit.
Tristan Hutt/Tom Clayton (49ER) led the fast fleet but was forced to retire as they missed out a mark on the final upwind leg. Toby Barsley-Dale/Gareth Russell (Flying Dutchman) and Andrew Peake (Musto Skiff) were close behind the leaders, swapped places on the final homeward leg for Peake to claim line honours. Although Phil Emery/Will Lowes (Merlin Rocket) kept well ahead of the medium fleet, the conditions favoured the Scorpions and Chris Swincraft/Nicky Marsh claimed victory on corrected time to lift the Gun Wharf Cup, with Peake runner-up and Barsley-Dale/Gareth Russell third.
The rain cleared away overnight but the grey overcast skies and murky conditions remained with a chilly force 2-3 northeasterly. To ensure all boats had a finish a shorter course was set, this proved to be too short for some. The medium handicap fleet got away cleanly but the start of the fast fleet had to be postponed as the medium fleet after rounding the windward and downwind marks and with spinnakers flying sailed back alongside the start line.
The Merlin Rockets of Tom Stewart/Steve Hall and Phil Emery/Will Lowes and Scorpions of Tim/Sarah Parsons and Peter Gray/Rachel Rodes steadily eased ahead of the medium fleet with Stuart Bailey/Zoe Noble (Buzz) and David Fenech/Alison Williams (V3000) in close attendance.
Stewart/Hall held the lead to the line to win on corrected time and claim the Hoo Freezer Cup, finishing over 2 minutes ahead of third placed Emery/Lowes. The Parsons led the Scorpions home for second prize, with Gray/Rodes fourth. The Merlin/Scorpion dominance was completed with Rien Zivoid/Julie Nuttall sixth and John Clementson/Simon McGuire seventh Mathew Larkin/Paul Jenkins (International 14) broke this dominance, as they overhauled the fast fleet leaders and followed Hutt/Tom to the line for fifth. Fenech/Williams won the contest with Bailey/Noble on adjusted time for eighth & ninth respectively while Chris/Nikki Catt won the RS 200 struggle with Steve/Judy Restall for 10th.
The Scorpions won both team prizes; Class and Club while Aaron Smith and Alec Rodgers retained the Hoo Marina Cup for highest placed youth sailor in their 29ER.
The race officer had difficulty on deciding an appropriate recipient of the Race Officer’s prize, so the sailing committee put him out of his misery by awarding it to the race officer Tom Sims. An appropriate award for all the hard work that is required before and during the race to ensure successful race management.
Full Results and images at http://www.hooness.org.uk/