Tuesday, October 30, 2018
National Solo EOS Championship 2018
So to the finale of the North Sails Super Series with the EOS or End of Season Championship if you are not a fan of acronyms. The location would be King George Sailing Club and the 36 entries were treated to a nice unstable breeze from the North and wind chill temperatures which would not be out of place in the back of your freezer. With an Industrial back drop which could have inspired a Lowry match stick painting, smoke from the nearby chimney tops swirled over the reservoir and gave nothing away to the sailors who searched for a tactical edge over the opposition.
Race 1 top mark and Tom Gillard continued to show the form that won him the Harken Inland Championship last month, rounding first from Steve Ede and local hero Vince Horey. Gillard lost out to Ede and Horey down the run to the gate, the bends in the breeze favouring those who went high early. Up the next beat and it was Guy Mayger and those that went right who made the largest gains, rounding the top mark with a huge lead from Gillard. Horey and Ede were the unlucky victims,free falling down the pack as the topography twisted the wind like a knife in the back. Chris Brown was up to third from Mark Maskell and Fraser Hayden with the fleet enjoying some nice planing angles into the leeward mark. Gillard asserted over the next two laps to take the bullet from Mayger and Brown.
The breeze was holding at 12-15mph though Gillard’s hiking style suggested it was plenty windy enough if you are 76kg.
Race 2 start was away after one general recall, the fleet a little too keen, clearly wanting to get on and off the water before their vital organs failed, the cold wind beginning to really bite.
A nice even spread along the snugly laid start line and with the breeze oscillating with the timing of a dubstep riff, I had no idea which end would be favoured.
Race 2 top mark and Gillard had a nice lead into the top mark from Paul Rayson and Martin Honnor. Pete Mitchell, Mike Dray and Horey were in the mix and the fleet bore down on the leeward gate, bow waves across the course indicating an increase in pressure. With “the Ride of the Valkyries” filling my head as I imagined how to edit such a vista the fleet set off once again towards the very eye of the wind. Gillard held a comfortable lead and seemed set for the win after completing the triangle but there was chaos behind when one of the leeward mark sunk leaving the mid to back end of the fleet to round the left hand gate mark instead. Some even chose to round this to starboard which really flummoxed those watching. For a moment I swear I saw the PRO put a flare gun to his head but fortunately it was just my imagination. There were frantic race team rib movements as a spare buoy was sought but alas, the carnage was irreparable and the race was abandoned, much to the frustration of the leading bunch no doubt. As an aside, I have since found out that a number of unexploded WW2 bombs remain at the bottom of the reservoir necessitating in the use of old tyres to hold the marks in place. You would not want to drop a concrete or metal anchor onto a 74 year old buzzbomb.
Race 2 was re-sailed immediately, albeit over a short two lap circuit and Gillard made no mistakes, taking the win from Brown who had led at the top mark with Nigel Davies and Mayger third and fourth. Honnor had capsized at some point after his tiller extension failed and would have rued the abandonment and Vernon Perkins was among those who also took a dip, granted, he did so after the race.
Race 3 was away first time, the numbing effects clearly having an effect on watches and reflexes and the fleet headed up to the first mark with thoughts of summer sailing buried deep under thermals and drysuits.
Fraser Hayden took the honour of first to the mark from Ede and Gillard with Ewen Birkin Walls and Mike Dray hard on their transoms.
At this point, the cold and my requirement to get back to Portsmouth to catch the ferry meant an end to my coverage but the end result was pretty much the same. A third bullet for Gillard, much to the frustration of his Dad who was feeling the early effects of hypothermia as he waited to pack the boat up, a second for Hayden which would secure him third overall and third on the water for Paul Rayson. Chris Brown would be second overall with a 3-2 and such was the severity of the weather that he has now jetted off to the Maldives to recover.
Pete Mitchell had done enough before this event to secure the North Sails Super Series and had retired to the hot showers well before end of play. My apologies to him as I did an entire interview with him on his season and successes without pushing the record button, amateur!
Full Super Series results to follow in my final report for the year.
Special thanks to North Sails who provided us with a brand new sail for one lucky qualifier which was Terry Palmer. Ironically Class President Doug Latta had employed Terry’s wife to pick the winning ticket out of the hat!
Congratulations to EOS winner Tom Gillard and to King George Sailing Club for their efforts in providing a great days racing and hot food and tea to assist in recovery.