Superspars EOS 2021 Report
Monday, November 1, 2021
Superspars National Solo EOS Championship 2021
The final instalment of the North Sails Super Series was eagerly anticipated and Draycote Water delivered, providing perfect conditions for the End of Season Championship.
The race management was impeccable, the 3 races sailed back to back were run with the precision of a military operation and this resulted in minimal waiting between races.
I had commandeered a media rib and once finished with my boat park interviews, stumbled along the narrow metal slipway, cradling my recently purchased Nikon P950 with the protectiveness of a mother holding her new born. I gazed up at the sky, the 50 knot squall which had passed through Dunchurch thirty minutes earlier was now en route to Amsterdam and in its place, sunshine and a variety of cloud formations. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped deftly aboard the rib, yet another obstacle negotiated, it would indeed be a good day.
There were 65 pre entries but the inclement forecast and various medical emergencies reduced the number on the generously long start line to 57, still a great turnout.
The PRO had set a triangle/sausage course and, not wanting another Nationals race 3 debacle on his watch had been thorough in his explanation of the number of laps required in the pre-race briefing.
Aboard the media/rescue rib, and we had already assisted one competitor before the race sequence who had managed to mix up his inhaul arrangement with his downhaul arrangement, such is the complexity of the Solo control system these days. How long until someone invents a Solo one string system?
Into the start sequence and the majority of the fleet were down at the pin end as the seconds ticked by, the breeze holding at 10-12 knots as heart rates climbed.
Clean start while at the committee boat Robin Milledge performed an impressive pirouette, fortunately for him I had my camera trained elsewhere. Robin did approach me post race to ensure no footage was taken, the Lymington mob would have been dining on it for years.
Ian Walters was the only notable front runner at this end while Rich Pepperdine was punching out at the pin along with Andy Davis, Richard Lovering, Mark Lee and Oliver Turner.
Walters was hooking into the right shifts, the breeze was going right too and he rounded the top mark with a comfortable lead from Pepperdine and Jamie Morgan. Turner was next from Nick Fisher who was having a blinder in fifth. Inland Champion Chris Brown was sixth with Steve Cockerill in the new Rooster/Gingerboats Solo and National Champion Davis completing a talented top eight. Pretty sure the next two were equally talented but I could go on all day, such is the quality in depth.
The first reach was deep, the topography of Draycote and wind direction not conducive to a good planing angle but still there were places to be gained as fingers of stronger breeze picked up and deposited some competitors ahead of near rivals.
Walters and Pepperdine extended as the fleet compressed behind them and by the top of lap two they were well clear with Chris Brown up into third. Cockerill, Davis and James Goodfellow completed a top six from Morgan and Lovering.
The run was pretty processional, the breeze had dropped to sub 10 knots but Davis had gained a place and was now pressuring Brown as the last lap beaconed. Rob once again, under my instruction powered the rib towards the gybe mark, somewhere deep in the back of my mind I was hoping for another 50 knot squall but that would have been too much to ask.
Fortunately there was some drama to feed my imagination, a lonely windsurfer floated aimlessly in the water right in front of the mark, the fleet powering down towards the unwitting potential water kill. Rob’s RYA training kicked in and after some masterful rib manoeuvres the casualty was removed from the course area.
Despite pressure from Pepperdine, Walters used all his knowledge of the water he grew up on to lead into the finish with Pepperdine, Brown, Davis and a fast finishing Lovering completing the top five.
After a course reconfiguration, the wind was still going right, race two was away at the first attempt, testament to a nicely angled line and the skill of the sailors. Tom Gillard was at the Committee end with Turner, Walters and Goodfellow who cannot have been pleased to see National Champion Davis tack just beneath him at the gun.
Davis was revelling as the breeze strengthened to 12-14 knots and found the fastest route into the top mark from Pepperdine and Shane MacCarthy. Walters, Morgan and Brown were just a few of the usual suspects in a whole gaggle of Solos that followed. The strengthening breeze was testing boat handling and tactical nouse, a few port tack approaches would have had on-water judge Steve Watson licking his whistle had he been there. Cockerill, Lovering and Dave Lucas hooked into a nice puff which saw them blast over those who had sunk low and this was the story through the fleet as waves of pressure erratically swept down the course.
Rob, my highly reliable rib driver put me in some prime positions throughout the day, the gybe mark being one of the top spots and my Nikon P950 clicked away like an anti missile defence system as Solos jostled to negotiate the wing mark.
Davis extended as the bun fighting broke out behind him. A group containing Pepperdine, Cockerill, Lovering, MacCarthy, Nigel Davies and Lucas were so close you could throw an undercover over the lot of them. The pressure was increasing, white horses licked the tips of the wavelets, bows braking through and over the more angular formations and this was really sapping the sailors energy levels.
Davis controlled the final lap as a superlative sailor does, looking smooth through the chop, minimising rudder movement and keeping the the mast vertical. Lovering held off the tiger that thinks he is a rooster while Pepperdine and Lucas secured their top five positions.
I released the impromptu harness which I had attached to my waist, this retaining strap had kept me aboard for the first two races but is a slight burden when you are reaching for the Penguin bars. While the idea of such a device should be standard safety equipment in a media rib, my use of the anchor chain is probably not to be replicated.
The wind continued on its journey to the right of the lake, the race team locating the windward mark just off the Water tower, any further and it would have been on dry land.
Another clean start though the fleet were depleted, such had been the drain on physical resources. I tightened the restraining strap to the rib’s mainframe, allowing me to concentrate on capturing the action as my vessel cut a path through the awkward sea state. Muscles strained as the fleet worked their way to the corner of the course..and that was just me me trying to stand straight. The breeze had actually softened, the key was finding the right lay line into the top mark and it was local hero Walters, his mother Pat proudly watching from the club veranda who nailed it as the conditions lightened.
Next around was Adam Froggatt from Morgan and MacCarthy with Pepperdine and Davis on a charge and both needing to get ahead of Walters if they were to secure the title. Kev Hall, Turner and Brown completed a top nine, mention to Vince Horey who rounded tenth, possibly better than Spurs will do in the league this season.
Davis had a blinder of a reach, sinking deep and popping up in second by the wing mark…the chase was on.
At this point the rib driver’s walkie talkie crackled into life, orders were received and we powered towards the clubhouse, an emergency of some proportion I ventured to the rib driver? Rob gripped the wheel with some resolve, throttle on 100%, his steely glare fixed upon a target close into shore…..five minutes later the bacon butties were aboard and we returned to the course.
Davis was in a battle with distance, he was gaining but the distance between Walters and the finish line was reducing. The final reach and short beat to the finish were nail biting for Pat on the beach and at the gun it was Walters who led the fleet home to claim the Superspars EOS Championship 2021. Davis was a close second and second overall from MacCarthy, Froggatt and Brown.
So, Walters wins the Superspars EOS, Davis, Pepperdine, Lovering and Brown complete a top five with Cockerill showing good speed in the new Rooster Solo in sixth. MacCarthy made up for a slow start to finish seventh with Lucas, Davies and Tom Gillard completing the top ten.
Superspars had generously provided discount vouchers and these were presented to some very lucky competitors, halyard locks, or even a new M2 may be on the Christmas lists for 2022. Thanks to Simon Bevan for the generous support.
This was the final qualifier for the North Sails Super Series and Chris Brown is a worthy winner, his Inlands win the pinnacle of his year but with previous Super Series Champions, Davis, Cumbley, Mitchell and Gillard etched into the plinth, should be rightly proud to join them.
In an ironic twist the prize draw for the North Sails voucher was picked out by HD Sails Andy Davis, won by former NSCA President Doug Latta and presented by Class President Patrick Burns.
Many thanks to Tom Gillard and North Sails for their continued support of the Solo Class. A big thank yo to Noble Marine, our Class Insurer who keep us on the water.
We will publish a full sponsor recognition
So ends another year with the Solo Class but with numbers through the 6000 barrier, three FRP builders for next year, Carnac, Abersoch, the new SoloInteractive magazine and a crammed Solo calendar, there is lot’s to look forward to.