Suntan lotion was an unlikely item at the top of the shopping list for the 2008 K6 Nationals hosted by the Royal Solent Yacht Club, September 13-16. David Hitchcock and Ian Nicholson walked away National Champions for the fourth year in a row.
The weather gods smiled and the fleet got a four day summer – Light easterly breezes and half decent temperatures. Good weather combined with some great race management by Jeremy Willcock, meant that the class got the full ten race series in for the first time in five Nationals.
Saturday saw two races out in Christchurch Bay to escape the spring tides. The first race had several boats turning back to restart after an individual recall. Defending champions David Hitchcock and Ian Nicholson were amongst these, helping Ian Robson and John Fulford land their first bullet. It transpired that only one boat had been over the line - Cru Classe (Nick Jones and Mike Butler) – who were half way up the first beat deep in concentration marking the shifts when the gun went.
Race two went to David and Ian with the ‘young’ lads from Carsington (Stephen Blake and Dave Lucas) close on their heels recording their second ‘second’. Saturday night was beer and a great curry at the club, with an impromptu cheese course of Quavers generously donated by Roger Ewart-Smith.
Sunday’s first two races went a similar way to Saturday, with David and Ian trading blows with Ian and John. The fleet had been expecting these ‘heavier boned’ boats to suffer slightly in the light stuff, but class will out, and it did.
The last race of the day – round the cans and home – always had the potential to upset the natural order and it didn’t disappoint. The fleet split in three on the beat against the tide to Hurst sands and half way up the leg the breeze shut down. Poole looked a distinct possibility for dinner, and an extra RIB was called from Yarmouth to get the fleet back. Just before the RIB arrived and the race was canned, the new breeze filled in from the south.
The two boats that had looked worst placed doing slaloms between the Needles creamed around the rest of the fleet with their kites up and finished 3 minutes inside the time limit. Paul Fisk, Amanda and Clare just beat Fraser Elms, Tash and Sophie. - two boats with particularly big and, in Fraser’s case, loud smiles in the pub that night.
Monday saw racing inside Hurst Castle for a change of scene. David and Ian stamped their authority back on the fleet with two bullets in the first two races. Fraser decided he preferred life close to the front of the fleet and, together with Jonathan Calascione crewed by Myles Mence, they marked themselves out as the ‘turn around’ stories in the morning.
The round-the-cans race home lived-up to it’s ‘let’s mix it up’ reputation again. A one hour beat past Lymington against the tide saw boats tacking just to give the legs a rest. Robin Bromley-Martin and son were made of stronger stuff and managed the mark in just two tacks before the reach across the Solent and a beat up the Island shore. They finished two seconds ahead of David and Ian, with Jonathan and Myles another two seconds behind them in fading breeze, and all just three minutes inside the time limit. Long live the round-the-cans race.
Tuesday’s racing was two short windward leewards just east of Yarmouth. It looked like the top four places were a foregone conclusion, but conditions that defied local knowledge made life more interesting.
Most played the tide, but it was the breeze that made the biggest difference – those prepared to gamble saw big gains. Stephen Blake and Dave Lucas won the first race, putting them on level points for second overall with Ian (now crewed by Sandy) from Aldeburgh, and five points clear of Peter Kirkby and Richard Barker from Queen Mary.
However, the final race saw Peter and Richard bang the corner twice, trading tide for breeze, and win. Stephen and Dave had their first real ‘shocker’ of a result (12th) which saw them drop the third place overall they’d held all series to Peter and Richard, and finish fourth.
David and Ian walked away National Champions for the fourth year in a row – they are an extremely difficult combination to beat, although didn’t have it all their own way. Ian and Sandy gave them a good run for their money, and will be eyeing-up Ian’s favourite sailing location, Garda, in June 2009 as the time and place for potential revenge, or just very good pasta and ice-cream.
Stephen Blake got some consolation for slipping to fourth by claiming the Youth prize – 34 years young. At the ‘senior’ end of the scale, Terry Wilkinson (crewed by Sarah) took the Masters trophy. A very reluctant Roger Ewart-Smith (crewed by Jasper) took the Silver fleet prize. RS-K6 UK Nationals - Leading Results
1st: David Hitchcock, Ian Nicholson (HISC)
2nd: Ian Robson, Sandy (Aldeburgh Yacht Club)
3rd: Peter Kirkby, Richard Barker (QMSC)
4th: Stephen Blake, Dave Lucas (Carsington Sailing Club)
5th: Julian Cook, Caroline Aisher (Royal Torbay Yacht Club)
6th: Fraser Elms, Tash Styles and Sophie Mackley (HISC)