Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier 2014 - Hamble, Hampshire, UK: The Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier was held on the Solent on 3rd May with three Invitations to the ISAF Grade 2 Royal Southern Match Cup in June (12-15) to play for.
Weather prospects had looked dim for days before the event as an area of high pressure drifted lazily across the Solent. The plan was to get as much racing in as possible in the morning before the forecast wind wobbled around and shut off.
Starting with a shifty north easterly, the first Flight was a struggle with different winds at either end of the track, but that was the best on offer until Race Officer Simon Hand called for a delay. Would that be it, or was there more to come? Simon and Chief Umpire Craig Mitchell, Alpari World Match Race Tour Director, used the time to work out the best ways to get a fair result with the minimum number of races - should this be necessary.
The wind came back as a Force three from the east, then out of the south and soon all the way round to the west before returning to the east, good for the match racers but with all those shifts, not so good for the mark layers! However, the sun shone and it turned into probably the best day's sailing so far.
Ultimate winner, Tom Mallandine (A), minds the gap - Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier 2014 - Colin Hall
Straight into the play-offs
At the end of the Round Robin, Tom Mallandine emerged as clear leader winning all his matches. Then came Annabel Vose and Connor Miller tied in second place and then Daniel Wray and Nick Wilkinson also tied. With three Match Cup Invitations on offer, it was important to break the ties before the wind called it a day, and so the Committee went straight into the play-offs.
Tom Mallindine and team won all their races to win the Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier - Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier 2014 - Colin Hall
Tom Mallindine continued his winning ways with a two-zero win over Annabel Vose. Connor Miller emerged victorious over Daniel Wray, but he's a good sport and announced that he couldn't do the Grade 2 Match Cup after all because of exams! Bad luck for Connor, but excellent good fortune for Dan who agreed to take his place.
So, Tom Mallindine, Annabel Vose and Daniel Wray get the final three Invitations to the Match Cup on 12-15 June at the Royal Southern Yacht Club where they can test their skills against World No. 2 Ian Williams, and six other Top 50 Open match racers including Alpari World Match Race Tour card holders Keith Swinton and David Gilmour.
The final entry list for the Royal Southern Match Cup, the first Grade 2 event in the UK for six years, is therefore:
Ian Williams? GBR ISAF Open rank 2
Keith Swinton? AUS 6
David Gilmour? AUS 11
Reuben Corbett NZL 15
Arthur Herreman* FRA 35
Lucas Lier DEN 46
Philip Bendon~ IRL 47
Tom Mallindine~ GBR 86
Ali Hall GBR 120
Annabel Vose~ GBR 185
Daniel Wray~ GBR 228
Andy Shaw* ~ GBR 270
? = Alpari World Match Race Tour card holder
* = Previous winner of the Royal Southern Match Cup
~ = Member of the Royal Southern Academy
Craig Mitchell, Simon Hand and the team at the Royal Southern in planning mode - Royal Southern Match Cup Qualifier 2014 - Colin Hall
Royal Southern Rear Commodore Sailing Karen Henderson-Williams, who was also time keeping for the event, said, 'The weather made this very much a touch and go event, and I'm so pleased that we got the races in after all. I wish our young sailors all the best against some of the World's best competing here next month. We're very grateful to our Race Officer team led by Simon Hand, the Umpires led by Craig Mitchell and the very kind owners who let us borrow their J/80s for these events.'
Karen continued: 'Now we are cranking the organisation up to the higher level needed for an ISAF Grade 2 event, and we expect to announce shortly that we will be laying on a tracking website so that our virtual spectators can check out what's happening - live!'