49ers at Eastbourne
These two teams dominated the weekend's racing, both in the big wind, big waves scenario of Saturday and the altogether more sedate conditions of Sunday. Not even Ian Barker and crew Harvey Hillary could do much to upset the rhythm of the other two RYA squad crews, with the Olympic silver medallist reminding the fleet why he was once better known as Captain Splash, as he pitchpoled just yards from the finish line in one of the windier races.
For some, even getting off the beach on Saturday morning was an ordeal, but the crashing waves on Eastbourne's unyielding pebble beach brought out the teamwork in everybody as competitors and members of Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club struggled to launch boats through the difficult surf.
Once out there, the conditions were amongst the most challenging ever experienced by the UK fleet, with some crews nosediving downwind and even upwind in the steep rollers. Current was also a big part of the weekend, with boats frequently overstanding the windward mark and making their approach to the top of the course even more precarious than it need have been.
With two races to go, it was two wins and two seconds apiece for Brotherton and Richardson. But Brotherton and Hiscocks cruised to two successive victories in races 5 and 6. Hiscocks told madforsailing afterwards: "Events like these are good practice for us. It might be a two-horse race after the first lap but with 24 boats on the start line you've got to be sharp, and we've got the likes of Barker and Chris Draper not far behind us.
"We're in a great position in the UK, no one else has got a fleet like this, and I think we'll see a lot of the top foreigners at the Gold Series this autumn." The RYA is planning on restaging a version of the Chernikeeff Gold Series which saw 10 UK teams and 10 of the world's best 49er crews invited for three weekends of high-wind, high-action televised racing.
In the nearer future, the UK fleet moves on to Hayling Island for another National Ranking event on 4&5 August, one of the last competitive outings before the World Championships at Lake Garda in mid-September. With 24 boats at this event and 39 entries at last month's Nationals, the class continues to provide some of the most dramatic racing anywhere in the dinghy world right now.