Mine's a pint
Bruce Grant and James Fawcett - setting the pace downwind
Following the 2003 International 14 world championships in Japan, the Autumn Pint and Autumn Trophy would be the first chance since POW for those 14ers that went to Japan to test their mettle against those who stayed behind. Would the experience of the world championships make up for the two-month break in sailing or would the extra practice on home ground would give the advantage?
Of the 26 International 14 Favourites for the weekend were Archie Massey/George Nurton, third at the worlds and Geoff Carveth/Murph who have been performing well in the UK over the summer.
The weekend was split up in to two separate open meetings, The Autumn Pint on Saturday and the Autumn Trophy on Sunday, both using a similar format of a windward/leeward followed by a longer harbour race. On Saturday Geoff Carveth won both races, gently overhauling the competition, with Andy Fitzgerald taking second in both. It would appear that the world's boats needed to get their act together, with Victor coming a distant third.
Saturday night saw drinks discovered at former world championships being revisited and an evening of ‘Dark and Stormies’ saw Sunday morning arriving far too soon even allowing for the clocks going back!!
The first race of the day, a short windward/leeward was led from start to finish by Archie Massey and George Nurton, who consistently pulled away from yesterday's winner Geoff Carveth. Between races the breeze picked up to about 16 knots and swung right prompting the race officer to make several course changes until he was sure a true course had been laid. Now coming straight of the land the breeze was starting to shift wildly and with twenty seconds to go before the gun, the wind swung left allowing a small pack, led by James Fawcett/Bruce Grant who had picked the pin end to get the pick of the starts, tack onto port to cross the fleet. Fawcett then headed straight for the favoured right side, out of the tide, with Geoff Carveth not far behind.
By the leeward mark, there was a good half-mile was between the first two boats and the third placed Mark Upton Brown, back to form. After a tour of the harbour, with positions remaining fairly even, the lead boats started a long beat back to Itchenor against the tide in a fading breeze. By now Fawcett was still comfortably ahead, with Geoff Carveth second and Archie Massey, who following a poor start had crept back up to third. The final stages of the beat were tense, involving the boats crossing and re-crossing the tide in very little wind, however the leaders finished in the same order. This left the top three crews tied on 4 points which was broken in favour of James Fawcett and Bruce Grant.
A fitting win for the veteran 14 sailor, Bruce Grant has been competing within the class at both national and international level and has won on multiple occasions both the Prince of Wales and European Championships as a crew and as a helm Bruce played his part in UK 2000 World Team racing championships at Itchenor as a helm, recently announced this would be his final event before retiring from active 14 racing.