The full eight pints

20 Jun The full eight pints


The Gallon Trophy held annually by Itchenor Sailing Club is historically the second most important race in the International 14 calendar after the Prince of Wales Cup race. This year’s race was even more important as it was both a chance to test speed in the build up to the September worlds in Weymouth and the 75th anniversary of the race which was first won by Stewart Morris. Since then the race has evolved as the speed of the boats has increased from a tour of Chichester Harbour to several triangle-sausages in Hayling Bay followed by a race into the harbour and back to Itchenor.

After a frustrating Saturday (unless you windsurf) when racing was cancelled due to strong winds, the fleet was generously hosted for the Gallon party by Andy Penman, followed by dinner at Itchenor Sailing Club.

Sunday morning saw 20 knots of wind in Hayling Bay and a steep chop after the strong wind over night so race officer Peter Taylor decided to move the race into the flatter water of the harbour. 18 boats made the start and set off on the dog leg course around the harbour; a beat to SW Pilsey then a 2 sail reach up Emsworth channel, another 2 sailer back and a run down to Ella Nore – 2 laps of this and then a run to the finish off Cobnor.

Roger Gilbert and Ben McGrane lead up the first beat followed by Glen Truswell and Chis Blackburn. Glen and Chris lost a few places after a slow tack and by the windward mark Roger and Ben had a healthy lead.

Two sail reaches are notoriously difficult on modern 14s. There is an angle, known as the death zone, where neither bearing away nor luffing up helps and getting down the reach requires lots of mainsheet movement by the crew and a weaving course – alternating between pushing high where luffing spills the wind from the rig and driving low where bearing away looses power. Roger and Ben managed to get it a bit wrong and stopped for a short swim halfway down the reach but recovered fast and still lead at the gybe mark from the chasing pack. At the mark Roger and Ben got scared and tacked round but in the chasing pack Tom Heywood and Ed Clay, Dave Dobrijevic and Neale Jones and Tom Smedley and Charlie Tavner were man enough to go for the two sail gybe – so closedin on the leaders. By the top of the run Tom and Ed and Dave and Neale were right on the tail of Roger and Ben, but both swam during the run allowing Andy and Ed Fitzgerald through into second, a place they kindly gave straight back by falling in themselves.

At the bottom things were a bit clearer with Roger and Ben leading from Tom and Ed, followed by Dave and Neale, the Fitzs and Glen and Chris.

Round the next lap the Tom and Ed pulled away from the pack behind but despite closing on the reach and not being wimps and tacking round, couldn’t catch Roger and Ben. Dave and Neale fell back over the lap and by the finish the Fitz’s had third a few boat lengths ahead of Glen and Chris and Dave and Neale followed in 5th.

Despite an official stewards enquiry into whether tacking round was against the spirit of the race Roger and Ben’s win was upheld and for the rest of us it’s back to working out how to beat them by the worlds in Weymouth.

Gallery of photos here

Short video here

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