View IMG_0617_2.jpg

This weekend saw the F18 National Championships held at Whitstable Yacht Club, it was a fantastic event “the best nationals for a long while, well done to Whitstable” was heard at the prize giving after the last 3 days had given fruit to all conditions + excellent close racing.

Team Boskalis sailors Hugh Styles + Chris Rashley sailing a NACRA Infusion dominated the regatta from start to finish counting 5 firsts and a 2nd place, this is the 5th National Championship win in the F18 class for Styles. At Whitstable 2nd place overall went to John Worthington and Seb Gruber who were very impressive in the breeze, in another NACRA Infusion and in 3rd Matt Humphries and Luke Yates.

This year the Formula 18 class had the best turn out at one of its National championships ever, this is down to the good balance which exists within the class between good testing racing at break neck speeds and good fun social banter off the water. Its amazing to see the success of the class, even in the UK where catamaran sailing is the poor relation to the dinghy sailing, popularity is building and this is mirrored internationally, with the recently held worlds in France which had a limited entry of 160 teams competed for the title, and the top 20 of this looking like a who’s who of Olympic Tornado teams of recent years.

To the regatta, Friday and Saturday provided champagne sailing in fresh winds and sunny skies, and racing on the tidal waters of the Thames estuary teams had to make tough lay line calls both up and down wind. Three races on the Friday and race one saw some really close racing between Styles and Rashley and Rob Wilson and Marcus Lynch, this was won by Styles and Rashley. The second race was very open, and then disaster stuck for Wilson as he broke his mast, ending his regatta. Race two was won by Worthington and Gruber, with David White and John Sweet a good second and Styles and Rashley third. Race three in more wind saw Styles and Rashley dominate from the front, with White and Sweet solid in second.

Saturday dawned even windier but with a cloudy sky, Stuart Gummer with Ryan Crawford lead the first lap of race 4, but were overhauled by Styles and Rashley who kept to the left side of the upwind on the second beat. The fifth race of the day in ever more increasing wind was blessed by sunshine, and a battle royal between Styles and Rashley and Worthigton and Gruber, the former lead for the first lap, to be overtaken on the downwind as Worthington powered through the chop, the teams were close again at the top but Worthington sailed another blistering downwind to take the winning gun. The last race of the day was cancelled due to too much wind, but with 4 races scheduled for the Sunday.

Sunday started with a SW 10 knots which died through the race and had Styles & Rashley tussling with Humphries & Yates, with Adam Piggott & Lewis Crawford third, and this is how I ended. As the wind died on the last leg it swung west 60 degrees and this turned the fleet inside out after the top 5 finished.

The wind disappeared and swung through 360 degrees until just before 1400 hrs when a SW breeze came in and the last race got away in 9 knots Styles and Rashley fought it out on the first lap, with Gummer and Crawford pushing hard, but this was not enough to hold off Styles and Rashley who managed to overhaul them and in doing so winning the Boskalis team the national title for the fifth time in 6 years for Styles.

Many thanks to Whitstable yacht club for their amazing hospitality, to Stuart Offer for the good race officering. Now the focus will be for the Forts race at Whitstable in 2 weekends time, then the F18 Inlands on the 16/17 Oct before the final event of the season the NACRA Nationals which will be at the Weston Cat open on the 6/7 November.

As ever nothing would be able to be achieved without the great support from the many sponsors family and friends so many thanks to:
Time on the Water
Nacra Europe
Towergate Mardon
Magic Marine
Marlow Ropes

Hugh Styles

Other images included with this entry..