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Allen Europe class UK National Championships 2023 in Plymouth - Overall

by UK Europe Class Association 8 Jun 2023 06:10 PDT 1-4 June 2023
Mandy Horton - Allen UK Europe Nationals in Plymouth © Paul Gibbins Photography

The 2023 Allen UK Europe National Championships was hosted by Mount Batten Watersports Centre and Plymouth Youth Sailing, with four action packed days of racing!

As a new venue for the Europe fleet, many sailors headed to Plymouth mid-week to get some practice in - interrupted for some by the appearance of a submarine in Plymouth Sound! Sailors were welcomed to Plymouth by 8-14kts from the NE, with two races scheduled in Plymouth Sound.

Sue Ogg lead race one comprehensively, a display of light wind boat speed and an early identification of the left-hand gain upwind - a feature of many of the races to come! Steve Cockerill and Ben Harris battled throughout the race for second and third place, finishing in that order respectively.

A similar display of boat speed was seen by Hector Cisneros in Race 2, leading from the start to take the win; Steve Cockerill taking consecutive second places to lead the event overall at the end of Day 1. The word of the day was consistency with Steve and Ben rewarded with the top two spots as the only sailors with two top five results.

After a great day on the water, many of the sailors ventured into the Barbican for a Captain Jaspers burger and beers by the water, before catching the last ferry back to Mount Batten in anticipation of a big few days ahead!

Day 2 promised more of the same, with similar course area and conditions to the previous day. As Race 3 started, the temperatures were now well above 20 degreesC and the wind oscillated throughout the race. A race of snakes and ladders, it was Belgian representative Graham Hutchings who mastered the tricky race course to take the win, Steve again following with a second place and HISC's John Rees who wrapped up the podium.

The race saw several Rule 42 infringements as the O-Flag was raised and lowered several times due to varying wind strength; umpire Carol's yellow flag was a useful learning experience for the fleet!

The wind dropped significantly after Race 3 and was flicking between the NE gradient wind and a SE thermally driven breeze. The committee boat re-located to Cawsand Bay and the fleet were greeted by 15-20kts and big waves for the start of Race 4! Graham's experience in the choppy North Sea conditions off Belgium paid off with a second consecutive race win, followed by Alex Scoles racing his prototype Idol Composites boat.

The big conditions continued into Race 5, and this time it was Steve who stretched a lead and took his first win of the event. Alex continued his run of form in the big waves downwind to take second, with Hector and Ben battling hard for third and fourth, finishing bow-to-stern. A mega reach back across Plymouth Sound in 20kts and bright sunshine left no sailor without a smile as they returned ashore.

On Saturday morning, sailors launched into a light NE breeze and headed to the race area beyond the breakwater. With a big left-hand shift as the first start got off the line, the fleet quickly tacked onto port. With the left generally paying, it was Steve who got ahead and protected his lead to take the win.

A dominant display ensued; Steve mastering the shifty breeze to take a day of straight bullets. Hector and Jason traded the remaining podium places to extend their grip on the overall podium. Behind the leading trio, Sue Ogg and Mandy Horton were the only sailors to remain in the top 10 all day, the majority sailing at least one race where they found more snakes than ladders!

After racing, and a new addition for the 2023 event, the inaugural 'Pip Eagleton Endurance Trophy' race was held in memory of Pip Eagleton, a devoted supporter not only of her husband Richard's Europe adventures, but of the UK class as a whole. A hardy group of sailors raced from the start line outside the breakwater, upwind to the top of the breakwater, rewarded by a downwind in building breeze into Cawsand Bay before the long upwind to finish off the Mount Batten breakwater.

Jon Tweedle took the win, Luke Lazell racing his stunning wooden Europe to second ahead of Gareth Tweedle in third.

The fleet enjoyed dinner and drinks in the sunshine - "two-pudding-Jon" earning himself a new nickname - whilst some of the younger sailors ventured into Plymouth to enjoy the last night of the event.

The sun shone yet again on Sunday morning for the final two races of the event. With strong current flowing up and over the line, a general recall was almost inevitable and the fleet got away at the second attempt (minus several victims of the U-Flag). Ben Harris must have found an extra gear on the dance floors of Plymouth, taking an early lead from Jason Belben with some tacking duels out towards the left.

With a strong group of sailors closing in quickly behind, the race came down to the final downwind which saw five different leaders and ended with Hector sneaking the win from Ben, who held off Jon for second, followed by Sue in fourth and Jason in fifth.

The final race was held nearer to the shore with big gusts and shifts coming over Jennyclff. Jason taking the win ahead of Hector but the standout performance was from Jon, powered by his 'monster' sail to take consecutive third place finishes.

As is traditional for the Europe Nationals, the prize-draw ensures no-one walks away empty handed, with an array of prizes from title sponsor Allen, a headline prize of a brand new UK Sails mainsail and a variety of historic trophies all up for grabs.

After a solid series, Steve Cockerill wrapped up his tenth Europe National title - having won his first in 1986. A truly deserving winner, Steve's enthusiasm for Europe sailing is felt throughout the fleet. "That was proper sailing! When it's like that, the results aren't important!" was Steve's summary of the glamour conditions on Friday afternoon, a perfect fit with the class's ethos of delivering fun racing for all sailors throughout the fleet.

Hector Cisneros took second overall from Jason Belben in third - both counting only top five results after two discards. Ben Harris took fourth place ahead of Sue Ogg who finished fifth and claimed the prestigious UK Ladies National Champion title, separated by only two points after some close battles on the final day.

With age categories ranging from Youth (U19) to Legend (70+) it was great to see such competitive racing throughout the fleet - Enya Gibbs taking the youth victory whilst Daniel Devos from France finished just ahead of Richard Eagleton in the legend category! As the longest standing member of the UK Class Committee, Richard was awarded lifetime honourary membership at the prize-giving in gratitude for his dedication and service to the class.

The 'Tin Rig Trophy', awarded to the top placed boat without a carbon fibre mast, was won by Mark Swallow.

As always, the Europe proved itself as the most versatile single handed class, with sailors ranging from 50kg to 90+kg and from 'youth' to 'legend' all racing equally on the water and enjoying a great four day event! Huge thanks to Plymouth Youth Sailing and Mount Batten Watersports & Activity Centre for hosting.

If you have a Europe, or are looking to get involved in the class, be sure to join the UK Europe Sailors Facebook group, where you can join our friendly community of sailors and ask any questions you might have!

If you finished in the top ten at the Europe nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

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