Stead links up with Beadsworth for Match Racing Nationals
Despite an unhappy showing at the Games, Beadsworth remains the man to beat in British match racing and is therefore seeded number one at this event. But he won't find it easy, because the man who has sailed next to him in the Soling for the past two years, Richard Sydenham, takes the helm of a First 8 against his old helmsman. Whilst Beadsworth is likely to focus on the professional big-boat circuit from here on, for Sydenham this is the beginning of a new Olympic cycle.
The Nationals is a chance for Sydenham to prove to himself and the RYA that he is a worth successor to Beadsworth as a top Soling helmsman. Of course, Sydenham like the rest of the Olympic sailing world, will have to wait until the ISAF meeting in Edinburgh in November to see if the Soling remains as a class for the 2004 Games in Athens. But if it does stay in, he plans to begin sailing with his friends and accomplished sailors Jim Turner and Ian Budgen.
Budgen is another helmsman at the Nationals who could cause an upset. He finished runner-up in this event some years ago and has been back into keelboat sailing this summer, following an unsuccessful attempt at Olympic selection in the 49er class.
Aside from Beadsworth and Sydenham, there are other members of Britain's world-beating Olympic team present. Crewing for Sydenham are Tornado representatives Hugh Styles and Adam May, who have won this event before with Stuart Childerley. And getting in some practice before the Rolex Women's Match Racing Worlds in Florida at the end of November is Shirley Robertson, the new Olympic gold medallist in the Europe single-hander.
Whilst this event represents the highlight of some sailors' years, for seasoned campaigners like Robertson and Stead it is a little less serious. That said, Stead never does anything by halves, and he is clearly looking forward to getting back into the fray of match racing.
"The match racing series is an interesting event as you get Olympians, keelboat and dinghy sailors and novices all thrown in together," he says. "When you combine the sailors with a landlocked 'streetfighter' venue and the First Class 8 One Designs which really show up any flaws in team work or match racing skills, it makes for an interesting event."
It's going to be a great regatta, and madforsailing will be there providing full coverage with reports and photos, a daily 'streamed' video update produced by The Sailing Channel and powered by VirtueTV, and live audio commentary from Richard Simmonds and the team for the final next Sunday. Don't miss it.