Royal Southern's Academy Match Cup - An international flavour

Nick Robson uses the wind delay as an opportunity for a single handed sailing demo - and then the best spinnaker drop of the day.
Karen Henderson-Williams
The Royal Southern Yacht Club's Academy Match Cup third running, held from September 21-22 and rescheduled from June when faced with 30+knots of wind, had a distinctly international flavour as the Bill Foulkes Aladdin's Cave Trophy went to Arthur Herreman and his team from France.

Currently standing at 43 in the ISAF World rankings, this will be a further boost to this very talented young French crew from Le Havre who won all their matches in the first ISAF Grade three event to be held in the UK this year.

There was also a very useful boost for the top British crew in the form of qualification for the RYA's National Match Race Final, taken by Andy Shaw and crew from the Royal Southern Academy. Having been up to 59 in the World rankings, Shaw's current ranking of 357 betrays the pressures of work on sailing time rather than any loss of form. His only losses were to the French team, and to Ryan Scott and his team of Dubliners from Howth Yacht Club.

Third place went to Philip Bendon and his younger Royal Southern Academy crew and this result will put him into the ISAF Top 100. Philip lost only to Arthur Herreman and Andy Shaw and this must help his chances of qualifying for the prestigious Warren Jones Match Race Invitational in Perth in 2014.

Held in the Academy's J/80s, supplemented by boats loaned by kind owners, the Match Cup was held on a grey day but with excellent Force three to four winds. Experience ranged from Herreman and Shaw to new Academy match racer Matt Deacon-Smith from Cambridge University but ,after the first few Flights, Matt was mixing it with the best of them.

The French crew was quick on the attack in every pre-start with the full range of manoeuvres on show in continuous succession. It made the more limited range of match race manoeuvres on show in the concurrent America's Cup - no dial-ups or sailing backwards - look very restricted but understandable!

After 30 races on Saturday, the wind failed on Sunday but with 1½ Round Robins sailed, the results stood.

Ryan Scott (IRL) commented: 'We're glad to be here because we particularly wanted some asymmetric spinnaker experience. We lost our first few matches but then won all the rest, so we were pleased. It was great racing and well organised. We'll be back'.

Yann Rigal from the French team added: 'This has been a very good experience for us. Thank you for your hospitality and please come and race with us in France.'

Summing up, Rear Commodore Sailing, Karen Henderson-Williams said: 'It's good to be in the front line of Match Racing in the UK. We support our Academy Members to go to the RYA's Winter Series in Portland and other overseas events. We've enjoyed hosting overseas visitors ourselves this time and are planning more and bigger events at the Southern next year. Having our own J/80s makes this possible.

'I'd also like to thank David Lees and all our Umpires, Simon Hand and the race team on the Committee Boat, and the boat owners for their support.'

Arthur Herreman (white shirt) and his crew from Le Havre, winners of the Royal Southern Yacht Club’s Match
Ed Dyer