22 Jul Walker Trophy 2013
The Walker Trophy is a historic part of the International 14 calendar, presented by the president of the US association, and first sailed in 1964. This year the event was part of the annual Dinghy Fest hosted by Itchenor Sailing Club, which saw racing by RS200s, 800s, and K6s as well the 14s, with a total of 40 boats on the water.
Race officer for the weekend was Chris Fox, former International 14 world champion, and guru of Chichester Harbour. Four races were sailed each day on a short windward-leeward course, with an upwind gate, which formed an outside gate on the downwind leg. Competitors were blessed with absolutely stunning weather, with a very light gradient wind, to which was added a significant sea breeze.
Racing started on Saturday with a little under two hours of the flood tide still remaining. It also started very punctually, catching out that part of the fleet which had a relaxed approach to rigging. The wind was from the south west, force 3.
The first race went to Steve Fisher and Neil Barber, with Dominic van Essen and Simona Saccani, the Italian entry at the upcoming world championship in Toronto, sailing flawlessly to come in close behind.
For the second race, as the tide rose, it became apparent that the shallow ground on the Thorney side provided the quicker route to the windward mark. Kimball Morrison and Ed Dyer exploited this to round the windward mark first, followed by Ed Clay and David Knight, who then countered on the downwind leg making better use of the gusts coming off the Rookwood shore. Another trip far into the shallows on the Thorney side, saw Morrison / Dyer retake the lead upwind, and the second race.
For the third race, the wind picked up a bit, and swung slightly left, but the upwind tactics stayed the same. Downwind there remained a quandary as to whether to make an early gybe in order to get into the main flood tide channel, or to stay on the Rookwood shore and catch the gusts on that side. Clay / Knight had two excellent runs, and won the race.
By the start of the fourth race, the tide, had, in a sleepy sort of summer way, just started to turn, and the wind came back to its original heading. It became apparent that, despite being out of the ebb tide, the Thorney side retained extra pressure and was hard to beat upwind unless you were able to catch a good pair of shifts on the left. Fisher / Barber had a good first beat, and made no mistakes thereafter, to win closely ahead of Dan Holman and Jeremy Elliot who had had excellent boat speed all day.
In the evening at the club, there was a barbeque laid on for all competitors, which included a delicious homemade chimichurri sauce to go with the sausages! With the roads gridlocked in the entire Chichester / Witterings area because of the Festival of Speed and a sunny day for the beaches, the live band which followed, gave no excuses to the hit the road until late.
On Sunday, conditions on the water were very similar to the previous day, but initially the wind was a bit warmer and fluffier. The start was about an hour earlier on the tide, so virtually all the racing happened on the flood. The route up the shallows on the Thorney side, wasn’t an option until late in the day, particularly with the windward leg slightly shorter, and the windward mark nearer the Rookwood side.
Ed Clay and David Knight again showed good pace and tactics, but were closely followed by Mark Upton-Brown and Jon Blackburn. Both boats made gains running down the left hand side of the course. Clay / Knight held the lead to win the first race of the day.
Upton-Brown / Blackburn came to the fore in the second race, using the course perfectly. Katie Nurton and Nigel Ash had now found the groove, and were chasing hard to finish in second. The breeze picked up as the day went on, and so seemingly, did the size of the cruisers motoring up and down the harbour! The course had been well laid, and kept the racing boats out of the main channel for most of each round, and I can happily report there were no incidents.
2nd, GBR 1523, Kimball Morrison & Ed Dyer, ISC
3rd, GBR 1531, Andy Penman & Chris Watson, ISC