04 Nov Foritude Supercup, Itchenor 25/26 April
The benign conditions on the Itchenor staging were no reflection of what lay in wake for the fleet as we got to the bottom of the Itchenor reach. There was a steady 18 knots South Westerly gusting 23 knots. The course was a short windward, leeward course with an upwind gate thus the emphasis was on boat handling. The first race was a clean start won by Douglas Pattison crewed by Matt Critchley with a flooding tide the fleet was pushing left up the beat. Roger Gilbert crewed by Ben McGrane benefited from an early capsize from Pattison/Critchley soon followed by Tom Heywood crewed by Ed Clay. Gilbert and McGrane held on to win the race with Robin & Martin Pascal hot on there tails with Pattison/Critchley taking a third place. Three more races followed with plenty of swimming had by all except for the long standing Pascal/Pascal partnership. The fleet was met by the Royal Yacht Squadron Cruiser rally who were treated to a demonstration of high speed downwind sailing. The overnight results were tight with a three way tie on 6 points between Roger Gilbert, Robin Pascal and Douglas Pattison and Charlie Duchesne one point behind. The fortitude dinner provided a suitable means of relaxation for the exhausted competitors.
The outlook on Sunday was lighter with the wind backing to the South East 8 – 12 knots gusting 15. Very strong spring tides with a lot of holes in the wind with frequent shifts made for tactually challenging conditions. The course was sausage, triangle with an upwind gate. Consistency was obviously going to be the key factor in terms of success. Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane who are newcomers to the fleet showed they had quickly mastered the complexities of the International 14 with 2 firsts and 2 seconds. The third race of the day the Pascali team found significant pressure out to the right hand side of the course and quickly built an impressive lead which they extended to a whole leg by the finish. Close racing in the rest of the fleet ensured plenty of opportunity to gain or lose places at mark roundings. Andy Fitzgerald crewed by his son Edward had a good consistent day and won the 7th race. Douglas Pattison and Matt Critchley took 2 seconds in the last 2 races to take second overall behind Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane.
1st Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane
2nd Douglas Pattison and Matt Critchley
3rd Robin Pascal and Martin Pascal
4th Charlie Duchesne and Will Broom
5th Rollo Pyper and Richard Dobson