Sun shines on sailors in thrilling Nationals

Eastbourne Sovereign hosted the National Sailing Championships earlier this month
Eastbourne Sovereign hosted the National Sailing Championships earlier this month

Eastbourne Sovereign hosted the National Sailing Championships for two of the premier dinghy classes in the country, held over four days between August, 8 and August, 11.

Forty-eight boats entered for the RS800 event - these boats a two person high performance skiff - and 30 boats entered the RS700 event - this a single-handed skiff.

The sailing conditions and weather over the four days could not have been better; sunshine and average wind speeds of around 18 knots made for some thrilling racing.

The club had a large number of volunteer members help out over the four days, with many on the water organising the racing and many ashore helping the club cope with an influx of 160 extra people.

Some great evening social events were held with the club full, a fancy dress pub crawl and live band among the events organised.

The Commodore of the Club Graham Tomlin welcomed all competitors on the first day of the event wishing them good sailing, not thinking for one moment that four days of ‘champagne’ sailing were ahead of the them.

Race officer for the event Gary Smith ensured the race management for the two courses was up to his usual standard and was thanked by the class associations for his ‘slick’ management.

On the race course, the RS800 event was won by James Date and Toby Wincer - one of the pre-event favourites - though, with ten races over the four days and with eight different race winners, victory wasn’t assured until the last race.

Two local pairings, Andy Jeffries/Chris Fibush and Dave Pike/Nick Jerkins finished in the top ten - Dave and Nick winning a race and also the Masters trophy.

The single-handed RS700 fleet, racing a little further out to sea, had their hands full coping with the conditions, and with no crew member to assist them, many capsizes over the four days. Robbie Bell, winning five out of the ten races, was a very popular and worthy winner.

At the prize giving, the new National champions thanked the club for hosting a very successful event. Also thanked were Eastbourne Borough Council for their continuing support and sponsors of the event - Volvo Cars and Noble Marine Insurance.

Manufacturers Hyde Sails donated two sails that were raffled and auctioned. This raised a fantastic sum of £2,410 for Sail 4 Cancer, a charity providing respite care across the country (www.sail4cancer.org) .

Thanks were also given to Barclays Bank for supporting the charitable fundraising through their matched funding scheme.

Competitor’s left for various destinations late on Sunday evening, tired, happy and convinced that Eastbourne has one of the very best sailing locations in the country.