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Olympians and UK dinghy champions clash in eSailing Demonstration Event

by Mark Jardine 2 Apr 09:03 PDT 1 April 2020
eSailing Demonstration Event © Mark Jardine

We're all stuck at home, we're all itching to go sailing, yet our boats are out of bounds. There was only one thing for it - virtual sailing!

Virtual Regatta Inshore has seen an explosion in users since the Covid-19 lockdown, but games are not usually visible to non-competitors. So why not get some top dinghy sailors all together in a single event, livestream it with commentary and chat with all the skippers?

A bit of head-scratching, some clever software, one quick test and the event was arranged. The RYA's Alistair Dixon, Director of Sport Development, liaised with Adam McGovern, RYA Regional Development Officer North West, and gathered some of the UK's racing elite to take part, while Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of YachtsandYachting.com and Sail-World.com worked out the technical details such as audio levels, streaming settings and camera angles. From the idea to the first race was less than a week!

It was always going to be a bit chaotic, but the banter was great and the racing fun - exactly what was needed at this difficult time.

Hats off to the team at Virtual Regatta who have had to handle the immense traffic that the game has attracted at this time, but most of all thanks to the sailors who took part. Here's what they had to say:

Adam McGovern (1st overall): "Today's result is for sure the pinnacle of my sporting career, never mind the overall results, I have finally beat my brother at something!"

David Hivey (2nd overall and Moth European Champion): "Felt a bit bad for giving Stu a penalty and taking his victory away and jumping into second... but only a little bit."

Stu Bithell (3rd overall, 49er World Champion and London 2012 470 Olympic Silver medallist): "We only do three races a day in Olympic sailing; I guess I need to work on concentrating during four! Incredible consistency from Adam in such a high calibre fleet, well done!"

Luke Patience (4th overall and London 2012 470 Olympic Silver medallist): "That was the mess it was always going to be. Loved it!"

Ben Saxton (5th overall, Olympian, World & European Champion and multi-time Endeavour Trophy winner): "It was great fun racing friends and good tactical racing. Plus, a lot of carnage!"

Sam Whaley (6th overall and ILCA (ex. Laser) National Champion): "Great racing, but I'm feeling a bit bitter right now. Bring on round two!"

Fynn Sterritt (7th overall and 49er Worlds silver medallist): "That racing was quite literally the highlight of my day! Not sure if that says more about me, or the situation we find ourselves in...?"

Jonny McGovern (8th overall and British Sailing Team 470 coach): "It was awesome to get some of the UK's top racers together to do battle in the virtual world! More will surely follow in the weeks ahead..."

Matt Mee (9th overall and multi-time RS200, GP14 & Merlin Rocket champion): "The McGoverns have obviously spent the hours honing their set up and straight-line speed... this paid off for them today. I've not seen Adam with pace like that since his Mirror days."

Andy 'Taxi' Davies (10th overall and multi-time Merlin Rocket, Solo, GP14 & Scorpion champion): "I wish I had smaller thumbs..."

Sam Watson (11th overall and current GP14 national champion): "I must learn the difference between the hoist button and the tack button."

Emma Wilson (12th overall and RS:X sailor selected for Tokyo 2020): "It was good fun to race virtually. If I stopped crashing I think I may have had a better chance!"

Katie Burridge (13th overall and two-time Selden Sailjuice Winter Series Champion): "Although a couple of times I may have been leading at the windward mark, I was clearly missing my downwind tactician Simon Horsfield so the lead didn't last long! Great fun, good to get people together and have a laugh during these difficult times."

Christian Birrell (15th overall and current Merlin Rocket champion): "It turns out not wasting time doing a day job is just as useful in virtual racing as it is in real racing!"

Will we be doing it again? Of course! Watch this space!

Overall Results:

PosSkipperBoat NameR1R2R3R4Pts
1Adam McGovernAdamNW243312
2Dave HiveyGerbilRacing691218
3Stuart BithellBiffmiester 3241120
4Luke PatienceWeepearl538420
5Ben SaxtonSaxobank455620
6Sam WhaleyWhaleX1122823
7Fynn SterrittKristina1066527
8Jonny McGovernJonnymcboatface11811131
9Matt MeeMattMee71101432
10Andy DaviesTaxi8771032
11Sam Watsonsam gp1491115 35
12Emma Wilsonemma7141014745
13Katie BurridgeKatieBurridge131312947
14Eilidh MacintyreE1mc1214131352
15Christian BirrellC‑Biz161691657

Want to give it a go?

Now is the perfect time to start eSailing, especially with the temporary closure of so many clubs and everyone having to stay at home. It's a fantastic way to stay in touch and continue racing and practice your tactics from your own home.

The RYA has put together a page full of resources on how to get involved at www.rya.org.uk/Pages/virtual-regatta.aspx

Full Replay

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