by Ben Clothier
UK 18ft Skiff Grand Prix kicks off this weekend with the first of the four Grand Prix events at Stone Sailing Club. Seven boats have already confirmed participation for the first event.
UK 18ft Skiffs
The series is due to pick up where it left off with the influx of new teams from 2011. Team Young & Reckless have bought Investec and have been training hard all winter at Rutland, often being joined by the other new team, KKT (ex Gill Wet & Wild) based in Calshot.
Pica continue their programme on a re-branded Benny to defend their 2011 dominance both in the UK and in Europe. Jack Grogan’s Hyde Sails team have been working on rigs, looking for podium positions in Europe and the illusive UK event win.
Steve McLean on HPF enjoyed a week's spectacular sailing in Sydney Harbour at the JJ and no doubt will have the bit between the teeth for the 2012 series in Europe.
Team Carsington has been running a stealthy off season operation but we have no doubt they will come out of the blocks fast following a third place at last year's National Championships.
Other teams we expect to see on the water this year include Aftica, based in Cardiff and Ex-Ronstan from Loch Lomond. The European Grand Prix also returns to UK shores this year and combines with Round 4 of the UK series to provide the climax to both UK and European Grand Prix's as well as being the UK National Championships.
The Royal Western Yacht Club and the Mount Batten Centre are hosting the event in Plymouth Sound.
We will certainly look into spectator options if there is interest for this event.
The 2012 UK Grand Prix is being supported by other great locations too including a return to Poole for Round 3 after a fantastic event in 2011, again to be hosted by Parkstone Yacht Club and the Watersports Academy.
Round 1, 31st - 1st April, Stone, EssexRound
2, fifth - 7th May, Calshot, SolentRound
3, first - 2nd Sept, Sandbanks, Poole BayRound
4*, 28th - 30th Sept, Plymouth Sound * Round 4 is also the Climax to the European Grand Prix and will be the UK 18ft Skiff National Championships.
Many of the UK teams plan to join the European Grand Prix for the summer months travelling from Hungary to Italy, then Turkey and Germany before returning to the UK in September.
So plenty of racing planned over the forth coming months. Keep up to date via www.uk18footer.org and www.facebook.com/uk18footer