South Coast Masters - Report


The solent masters was raced on Saturday 22nd March at Queen Mary's SC in the RTYC's J80s. Masters events stipulate helms over 45, crews over 40 and this event was raced in two boat team racing format / pairs. It was a triangular match between the Royal London YC, the Royal Southern YC and the Royal Thames. Our helms were - Captain of Racing, Richard Hill and William Edwards. Richard was crewed by Angus Prentice & Anthony Hinton and William by Henry Woods and Alison Copeland (visiting from Royal Vancouver YC) Richard Ambler also crewed. 
In a brisk 15-20 knot wind Jenny Woods (PRO) set us 4 round robins and each team sailed 8 races. All bar 2 of the races were all closely fought with the very talented Jerry Hill & Phil Meakins representing the Royal Southern YC, and event winners in 2012 & 2013, winning all 8 of their matches. The RTYC won their 4 matches against the Royal London, 2 very narrowly, and conceded all 4 to the Southern again with 2 being very close and narrow losses.
The top two teams; Royal Southern YC and the RTYC qualified for a 3 race sail off to decide the final. At this point Richard Hill and I decided to change strategy. We had been sailing responsively in the pre-start which clearly wasn't working so we decided to take the initiative and sail somewhat more aggressively. This appeared to suit us better and the Southern were perhaps caught unawares with the pre-start of the first race of the final resulting in both RSYC boats taking penalty turns at the start and the RTYC team rounding the windward mark 1st and 2nd. Despite the very fast RSYC being hard on our transoms and much wind taking and luffing and gybing up the run we managed to hold our 1,2 position and rounded the leeward mark ahead. The final beat was sharp and we crossed the line in 1,2 to take the first race. 
Suddenly the Royal Southern's 8 victories in the round robin were a distant memory and the Thames team were seeing victory as a distinct possibility. A few years back Richard and I both owned SB3's (now called SB20's) and Jerry Hill was the the Class Captain and exceedingly hard to beat - between us I think we only managed it 2 or 3 times .... he was National Champion. Now we had the chance to make amends for all those years of being charmingly beaten ... Jerry is a very charming man!...
We attacked hard in the pre-start and managed to push Phil Meakins into a compromised position and in a fairly chaotic start we came out 2nd and 3rd. Jerry Hill attacked hard and Richard drew him off leaving me to cover Phil. After 3 mark traps we rounded the spreader just ahead in 1 and 2. The run was frantic with the two pairs splitting and on reconvergence at the bottom mark there was some seriously aggressive manoeuvring. Richard and I came out 1st and 3rd and after a great mark trap from Richard at the final mark we went into the final beat in 1,2. 
Of course the Southern split tacks and it was game on. A clasic team racing drag racing final beat ensued and we came to the line with 3 of the 4 boats within a half length. Amidst luffing and water calling the see-saw helming was so extreme that Phil Meakins was pitched overboard..... dramatic stuff indeed. The Captain of Racing timed his final tack for the line perfectly and came charging in with water rights to take 3rd place and push the Southern back into 4th. Of  course red flags flew but Bernard Kinchin chief umpire found in favour of the RTYC and we took the second race and therefore won the final and the trophy. 
It was a great days racing, superbly run by Jenny Woods and Bernard Kinchin and their teams and the club team are extremely pleased and proud of our victory. Well done to Angus Prentice, Anthony Hinton, Henry Woods and Alison Copeland, who incidentally also took an inadvertent swim and to Richard Ambler who stood in whilst she went ashore to change, the crew work was superb and virtually faultless.  
I am sure that the 2015 Solent Masters will be fought with even more determination and maybe we should give a second cup for swimming!  
William Edwards
Event Manager