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Marine Resources 2022 - LEADERBOARD

Supernova Inlands - Runners and Riders

by Chris Hawley 12 Aug 03:00 PDT 2-3 September 2023
45 boats enjoy a great weekend of racing at the Supernova Inlands © Louise Pakes

Do you remember queuing up to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire or perhaps Star Wars Episode III (Revenge of the Sith), all whilst listening to Nizlopi's JCB song on your Ipod Nano? In the same year (2005) something called YouTube was launched and the Supernova fleet took their last trip to Grafham Water Sailing Club (a cracking turnout of 45 boats).

Well a lot has changed since 2005, the Supernova fleet included. We've seen a change to the deck layout, new sail material and a move to an epoxy build, as well as continued growth of this exciting class. In 2005 the Supernova nationals was attended by 38 hardy soles (I remember it was our first sea event and a windy one at that - well done Mike Gibson for winning) - the fleet has generally been comfortably over 100 boats at the nationals for the last few years and now runs Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets for Championship events.

The 2023 Inlands is returning to Grafham water on the weekend of 2 and 3 September and at the time of writing we have a whopping 68 pre-entrants (just 12 shy of the maximum entry limit imposed by the club) - this is the largest ever collection of Supernovas on inland waters. What a great event this is shaping up to be.

Entry is still available online via the Supernova Class Website and at £55, including a brilliant 2 course dinner on the Saturday night, represents great value.

Interestingly 50% of the top 10 from 2005 still sail Supernovas and 4 of them will be at the event and still expecting to be in the top 10 this time - Mike Gibson, Andy Flitcroft, Tony Critchley and Steve Hawley. There are also plenty of other sailors who have "stood the test of time" and will have been at both events, but unfortunately I can't find the old results to see quite how badly I did then! Sadly two of the 2005 top 10 are no longer with us, including former Chairman Paul Earnshaw - a really engaging character and a great leader for the class - the fleet have a trophy named after Paul which will be awarded at the Inlands (winner of the first race).

Remarkably in the last 15 years this event has been won by just 4 sailors Mike Gibson (4), Gavin Young (1), Matt Biggs (1) and Cliff Milliner (9). If Cliff wins it this year he will be in double figures on the overall winner tally - wowzer. So let's take a look at the Gold fleet who have signed up (apologies if I've missed anyone off):

  • Alex Reeve - Great pace at the recent Blithfield and Cardiff opens and often seen out front with the odd standout race.
  • Gavin Young - Winner of more opens than we can recall. Performing very well at the moment and previous inlands winner. Great in all conditions, calm and cool on and off the water.
  • Matt Thursfield - Former national champion, 4th in the 2023 nationals and virtually unbeatable in the breeze. Matt is lighting quick when he gets to sit on the side.
  • Steve Hawley - Like a fine wine Steve is improving with age. Winner at the gusty Girton open, Steve likes it shifty and windy but still does well in the lighter stuff.
  • Mike Gibson - See comments elsewhere in this article! Currently running a Supernova training day at Burton!
  • Alan Bishop - A legend at Girton who has been at the front of the Supernova fleet before. Sailing a mark 1 but don't let that fool you, he knows where to point it and can mix it up with any of the other top guys.
  • Andy Flitcroft - Winner of the Attenborough open and class stalwart. No doubt Andy will remember the wind bends from the 2005 event.
  • Richard Lambert - If it blows, Richard excels. He does pretty well when it's light too. Often in the mix.
  • Cliff Milliner - A man likely on a mission to lift the trophy for a 10th time. Absolute legend in the class and star performer in all conditions. Please submit weaknesses on a postcard.
  • Chris Hawley - Does well until the wind passes 15 knots then his 6ft2 frame is just too small to hike... Good pace at Cardiff with a race win in his new "dental white" steed.
  • Tony Critchley - Affectionately known as the "quick old guy in the front". When Tony finds his groove he can pace anyone in the fleet.
  • Hugo Hanson - Moved in the gold fleet after a stellar performance at the 2023 nationals. Hugo's technique is great - expect some good results.
  • Garry Butterfield - Prefers the lighter winds, then goes very well. Very limited time on the water in the last year, but can still perform well.
  • Sean Ricketts - Not sure if Sean was born when we last went to Grafham, but man this kid can make a Supernova move. Will be praying for the strong winds to come through.
There still lots of regulars who have yet to sign up, so things can easily change in the next few weeks.

Whilst this article focuses on the front of the fleet there are plenty of battles that will be had all through the fleet and we expect very stiff competition for the Silver and Bronze fleets. We are a fun fleet to sail with regardless of your "competitive edge".

Sign up now and don't miss out!

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