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Forces Open championships 2012

28th May – 1st June
Location: Hayling Island

The first racing event of the 2012 season kicked off with the Forces Open Windsurfing Champs which were held at Hayling Island. The total number of competitors at this year’s event was 36 which was really encouraging to see, this included a strong novice and intermediate fleet. The turn out from the RAF and RN was down this year due to work commitments. The forecast for the week was not looking that good with light to moderate West to South Westerly winds but the sunshine was out all week so a good chance of getting a localised sea breeze.

The race team at this years event comprised of myself delivering coaching and safety back up plus Clive Grant (Race Officer) and Mark Langhorne (Chief Safety Officer) in addition Capt Jed Cunningham RA who has finally hung up his racing shoes. Jed has taken on the role of ASA Race Secretary and also helps out with some coaching and race co ordination. Despite the low turn out from the other two services it gave us a great opportunity to continue to develop the novice and intermediate fleets within the Army with some structured coaching sessions and varied racing formats through out the week.

Monday – the open fleet and intermediate fleet got on the water late morning and completed 3 across wind slalom races and 1 course race in the afternoon. Maj Steve Jones RE and Pte Dan Skudder RLC led the way sharing first and second places. The conditions were pretty ideal with force 3 – 4 winds coming from the South West. The decision was made by the Race Committee to concentrate the intermediate fleet on across wind courses rather than upwind downwind courses; the reason for this is to keep developing the pool of racers who predominantly race on free ride equipment rather than formula equipment. The novice fleet spent most of the day working on basic skills, kit set up / developing stance for light winds and sailing position.

Tuesday – the sun was shining again and fingers crossed for the sea breeze, the Novice fleet completed a morning of coaching clinics and then in the afternoon all managed to sail around a triangular course, I think it’s the first time we have managed to actually get all the Novices to do a proper line start and it worked really well. The Open fleet completed 3 course races of which Maj Steve Jones took line honours again in the light winds. Joe Vernon RE was starting to make his mark on the intermediate fleet by sailing to a couple of wins also. The Novice fleet got 3 races in also.

Wednesday – not much breeze forecast today but the novices continued to develop and completed some more racing more orientated around windward leeward courses. Traditionally Wednesday is Inter Corps race day but only 3 course races were completed due to the light winds, teams from the RE / RA / RS / AAC / RLC / REME were entered, Doc White AAC tipped up for the day and demonstrated he still had the old magic with two wins out of 3 races. Overall the RE team won fielding the strongest team of open fleet sailors.

Thursday – better forecast and enough wind to lay out a master blaster course across the wind, a total of 4 races were completed. Dan Skudder RLC took 2 wins and a second, Steve Jones RE 1 win and Gareth Baker RE 1 win. The long distance race was done in the afternoon with a jaunt out to the nab tower! A total of 16 miles in length there and back, as luck would have it the wind was south westerly so a perfect reach out to the tower and back. A total of 12 sailors started the race and 7 finished, again Steve Jones RE came first with Dan Skudder RLC a close second, think we all learned a valuable lesson that day, don’t gybe two close to the tower as there is a massive wind shadow round the leeward side of the tower added to that a very confused sea state which led to various competitors doing a lot of swimming and up hauling! Good effort by all who made it round though.

Thursday evening was the programmed annual get together and this year we had a special presentation given to Maj Allan Cross who is leaving the Army this year. Allan was presented with a large glass stein engraved with his race results achieved over the years and Lt Col Gareth Baker RE gave a presentation covering the highlights of his glittering career.

Friday – no wind forecast so the event was wrapped up at 1200, the prize giving was organised on the deck of Inn on the Beach and prizes were presented by Brigadier Miles Wade ASA Vice Commodore Inshore.

Overall a great week of racing, the novice fleet came on loads completing triangular courses and windward leeward courses during the week, the intermediate fleet is developing well with some fierce competition between sailors, notably Oli Squire AAC, Chris Casterlio RLC and Tom Crouter RA definitely stars of the future. In the Open Fleet the RE are fairly dominant with Maj Steve Jones and Lt Col Gareth Baker right up there.

Forces Open Windsurfing Results Summery 2012

Open Fleet – Course Racing   Open Fleet Slalom   Master Blaster (Open)
1 Dan Skudder RLC   1 Steve Jones
RE   1 Dan Skudder
2 Steve Jones RE   2 Bert Curtin RS   2 Steve Jones  
3 Gareth Baker RE   3 Dan Skudder RLC   3 Gareth Baker  
Long Distance (Open)   Open Fleet Overall   Intermediate Slalom
1 Steve Jones     1 Steve Jones RE   1 Jo Vernon
2 Dan Skudder     2 Dan Skudder RLC   2 Chris Casterlio RLC
3 Jed Cunningham     3 Gareth Baker RE   3 Oli Squire AAC
Intermediate Overall   Novice        
1 Jo Vernon     1 Rob Nicholson RA        
2 Oli Squire     2 Mark Basset RE        
3 Tom Counter + Chris Casterlio 3 Mac McKenzie RE        

Article written by Jon Metcalfe ASA Windsurfing Training Manager.

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