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Waldringfield Cadet Week 2019 sponsored by Gill, Harken and Seamark Nunn

by Neil Collingridge 14 Sep 2019 05:33 PDT 28 August - 1 September 2019

Sponsored by Gill, Harken and Seamark Nunn

Once again, Waldringfield Cadet Week had it all; surplus sea breezes, slithers of sunshine slicing through late August showers, intensely competitive racing, smiles, laughs, occasional screams, a bustling atmosphere, and this year, for the first time... the RS200s. For many of the older competitors this was the end of an era, whether transitioning from Cadets or shortly to be going to Uni, adding an extra layer of poignancy - or was it competitiveness - to the RS200 Racing.

The week commenced bright and early for 8:30 registration on Wednesday the 28th August with everyone raring to go, even those who had only a 4 day rest since the Cadet National Championships in Brixham. We had over 60 Cadet sailors of all ages and abilities ready to sail with visitors from Aldenham, Frensham Pond and Stone. They were joined by over 20 mainly ex-Cadet sailors in the RS200 fleet including visitors from Deben Yacht Club, Mersey Island, Frensham, Royal Harwich and Brightlingsea. The only thing that was missing was wind! After waiting a couple of hours and catching up with friends on shore, we headed down to the The Rocks where a nice breeze had filled in. Even after the late start we managed to fit in two races before coming in for a late lunch then squeezing the third race in to stay on schedule in the late afternoon.

In the Cadets Lia Fletcher and Kali Karaskas kicked things off with a couple of bullets and a second to lead after day one from Hazel Whittle and Tom Krailing who also showed consistency scoring 3,2,1. In the RS200 fleet in the shifty winds and patchy pressure, Harry Chatterton and Tim Crossley had the best of the first day, winning two of the three races with Archie Penn and Alex Bell Jones taking honours in the second. The Race committee decided that a simple windward leeward sausage course would test the competitors and keep them largely out of the way of the larger Cadet fleet, meaning that the 200s were able to split off both upwind and down to create exciting racing both for them and the spectators. Earlier concerns that RS200s and cadets couldn't successfully share the same race track were shown to be unfounded.

After a long day out on the water dinner was awaiting when we got back in. For three of the four nights the meals were cooked by Heidi in the galley and everyone most definitely appreciated all these delicious meals.

On to day 2; this time we headed up stream in the gorgeous sun towards Tips and fitted one race in before lunch due to the slightly fickle winds. After lunch there was more of a breeze so we headed back down towards the Galleons area tacking down the river doing a real life river bank exercise (the training paid off!). In the Cadets Hazel and Tom continued their winning ways with a 1,2,3 scorecard for the day. Ethan Davey and Alex Enkel followed a later to be discarded thirteenth with a couple of race wins whilst Daisy Nunn and Oscar Bush started to show better consistency with a couple of runner-up spots.

Back on planet RS200, however cool the youth pretended to be, the competitiveness of the racing hotted up. Harry and Tim carried on where they left off with a win in race 4, but Archie and Alex were ominously fast, Archie reaping the benefits of his decision to sleep in his own tent rather than one of the two communal Bell tents and picking up two race wins putting pressure on Harry at the top of the scoreboard.

After racing we all joined the infamous raft building competition in teams, with Geoff Mayhew at his best causing total mayhem across the beach. Various craft were hastily built and launched to race around a buoy. Plenty of chocolate was won by the first and last team and then we all had time to warm up before the evening barbecue.

Day 3 saw Ethan and Alex hit their stride with two race wins with each of Hazel and Tom and Daisy and Oscar taking seconds. The racing through the Rocks was tough and tactical but as the sea breeze kicked in late in the afternoon and the racing moved to Galleons things moved to tough rather than tactical as we watched the wonderful sight of Cadets and RS200s everywhere across the river all criss crossing each other at speed downwind. What a sight to inspire old and young sailors alike.

In the RS200s these were make or break conditions, seeing some rise to the challenge and taking almost the entire fleet down a single run whilst others tipped it in on each gybe, finding themselves grinning with exhaustion on their centreboards. Without any doubt, everyone had a pretty mental time in these winds, but Matt Taylor and Sam Fortmann (both visitors to WSC and a scratch team) secured some substantial leads due to their excellent heavy winds boat handling and won race 7.

Harry and Tim had led the fleet all week, but whether it was the protest which went against them, or Harry's deteriorating health, their challenge began to slip away, making way for Archie and Alex to take the lead with two bullets and for Hattie Collingridge and Katie Spark to creep closer to second place.

After the Friday night cocktail party for adults we followed on to the penultimate day but only managed to fit in one race due to the dying wind at the Rocks in the morning. In a somewhat less than ideal race there were big holes through the Rocks. The RSs had enough grunt to get through the lulls but the Cadets got hopelessly strung out with Ethan and Alex taking their fifth win on the bounce from Lia and Kali.

Afterwards we went back ashore, followed by the broken committee boat, Boudicca, in tow. This and club racing meant the rest of the racing was cancelled for Saturday but this gave us a chance to catch up, swim and canoe before the evening's entertainment of an outdoor cinema and plenty of popcorn for all the sailors. Too bad the youth RS200 sailors were too cool for school and didn't show up - the rest of us loved Bohemian Rhapsody in the dark open air lounging on bean bags and rugs.

The final day of Cadet Week arrived, the week had gone so quickly and everyone, although tired was excited with everything to play for on the last day. For the last two races at the Tips there was a nice breeze, though it was fairly shifty which added tension for the sailors and the parents watching from ashore as every competitor fought for their final place. The race committee were set to try to get three races in to complete the series but resolved to go for quality not quantity and in the end only managed to get two races in.

In the Cadets Lia and Kali put the pressure on with a hard-fought win from Hazel and Tom whilst Ethan and Alex toiled back in sixth leaving things very delicately balanced for the final race. Daisy and Oscar re-found their Nationals form with their first win of the week from a delighted Isobel Stewart and Dylan McArdle in second making amends for being hoicked out in the earlier race whilst leading from a premature start. Hazel and Tom could only manage a sixth but their week long consistency allowed them to discard this from their score whilst earlier inconsistency from Ethan and Alex left them having to count their fourth. This left Hazel and Tom victorious overall by just 2 points in Hazel's last ever Cadet event - what a way to finish.

The final day of the RS200s was perhaps the most dramatic for all involved. It's fair to say that every competitor was totally exhausted by now, late nights and heavy winds having taken their toll, but fortunately there were only two more races left, in beautiful sunshine and warm light breezes. The conditions were perfect, but some performed better than others. Race ten, saw early leaders Hattie and Katie, closely followed by Harry and Tim, round the bottom mark to port rather than starboard (engage brain please!) giving up their lead as they tracked back. Although Hattie and Katie were able to fight back and secure a solid second in that race, Harry and Tim were not. The final race of the day and the week saw Cara Bland and Luke Minchin fight for the lead against Archie and Alex. After a constant see-saw of leaders, Cara and Luke prevailed securing their first win in a nail biting finish. This left Archie and Alex as deserved winners of this fleet overall counting six wins from their eleven starts.

Whilst all this was going on there was also a burgeoning regatta fleet - young Cadet aspirants coming out of the club's junior sailing programme spotting that Cadet sailing is where it's at and wanting a piece of the action. Former Cadet parent Anne Marie Cooney kindly gave her time to coach this lot for the first couple of days followed by British Sailing Team sailor and ex-Cadet Daisy Collingridge. They took these newbie boats to new heights with racing for the second half of the week. Tom and Fraser Whitmore counted five race wins from their six races to take the overall regatta fleet win from Bea and Henrietta Walker in second and Emilia Green and Daisy Adams in third. The race committee were really impressed at these eight boats - close racing, everyone on the start line on the "b" of bang, spinnakers flown, the future is bright, the future is Cadet Sailing....

And somewhere in the middle of all this were the oh so important Old Gaffers race (aggregate age over 70) and ex-Cadet single handed race. Run by the kids (with cacophonous commentary on loudspeaker to accompany), these races are keenly contested up and down in front of the clubhouse and part of the unique history of Cadet Week. We welcome Alan Krailing and Stephen Videlo as virgin winners of the Old Gaffers race - Gordon Harris who would qualify with an unborn crew will no doubt be back next year to regain his crown. And Daisy Collingridge in the ex-Cadets took her old boat No Regrets back to its former glories holding off multiple challenges from local ace Stephen Videlo to take the win.

Everyone enjoyed a week's worth of sun and fun at Waldringfield and all the competitors enjoyed an amazing eleven race series. A final word of thanks to Arky, the Cadet Class race officer, who had heard about the craic at Walders and wanted a piece of the action - he did a brilliant job and entered into the spirit in more ways than liver may recover eventually. An army of helpers organised the sailing, food and entertainment throughout the week. And we must not forget our massively generous sponsors Gill, Harken and Seamark Nunn without whom the mahoosive prize-giving would be much diminished. A great end to a busy summer of sailing with friends and family!

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