To the wire
David McLean's Babbalaas, winner of the 2002 IRM National Championship
With Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie behind the wheel, David McLean’s IC45 Babbalaas secured the Royal Ocean Racing Club IRM National Championship this afternoon, beating the Farr 52 Team Tonic to the title in the last race of the three-day series.
After five windward/leeward races over Saturday and Sunday, the Babbalaas team held a one-point lead over Nick Hewson’s Farr design going into today's final two races off Portsmouth. The first race, to the east of the Forts, evened up the score and left the outcome of the championship hinged on the afternoons result. "We had a good first race but we were second to Team Tonic, which brought us level on points although it was hard to know that with the handicap system," explained Ainslie, who is usually a ‘first past the post’ one-design sailor.
While Ainslie got away cleanly, things didn’t go according to plan onboard Tonic, skippered by Jeremy Robinson. "We messed up the start and had to fight ourselves clear. When we caught Bear [of Britain] up we had to race against them," said Robinson, reffering to the second Farr 52, Kit Hobday’s Bear of Britain.
Team Tonic finished eighth on corrected time, while Babbalaas was fourth. The race was won by Robbie Cameron-Davies’ Ker 11.3 I-Site, with another Olympian, Tornado ace Hugh Styles, calling the shots.
"It was nice to go into the last race with a chance to win it but it wasn’t to be our day," added Robinson. He did however have the satisfaction of beating Bear by seven points even though this is the first event he has lost this season as skipper.
Babbalaas’ scoreline of 2,2,2,8,2,4 shows that with the right team behind him, Ainslie can match the consistency he became famed for in the Laser dinghy. "I had a great three days. The crew work was excellent and Mike Richards did an excellent job calling the shots," he said, shying away from any credit for their performance. "We gelled well as a team and apart from the [OCS] start yesterday, we didn’t make many mistakes."
Bear of Britain, helmed by young match racer Mark Campbell-James was third overall while I-Site beat the gathering of Farr 40s, Ker 11.3s, a single Mumm 30 and the Mills 50 design Mandrake for fourth place in the fourteen boat fleet.
|Babbalaas||IC 45||David McLean||14||1||2||2||2||8||2||2||4|
|Team Tonic||Farr 52||Nick Hewson||18||2||3||1||9||4||1||1||8|
|Bear of Britain||Farr 52||Kit Hobday/Tim Louis||25||3||1||3||7||7||3||4||7|
|I-Site||Ker 11.3||Robbie Cameron-Davies||26||4||7||6||15||1||6||5||1|
|Too Steamy||Farr 40||Nick & Anne Haigh||29||6||4||10||6||2||5||6||6|
|Fair Do's V||Ker 11.3||John Shepherd||32||7||5||9||3||3||9||7||5|
|2XL||Farr 40||David Murrin||44.5||8||13||8||4||6||7||10.5||9|
|Kerisma||Ker 11.3||Chris Bull||49||9||12||13||10||9||12||3||3|
|Mandrake||Mills 50||Peter Morton||50||10||8||7||12||10||4||9||12|
|Bounder||IC45||Chris Little (Merry/Aisher)||58||11||9||5||13||11||8||12||13|
|El Gringo||Ker 11.3||Nicholas Hartshorn||59||12||10||11||5||13||10||13||10|
|Minnie the Moocher||Ker 11.3||Anthony Richards||64||13||11||12||11||12||11||8||11|
|Moonshine||Mumm 30||Jack Kelly||81||14||14||14||8||15||15||15||15|
See page two for more of Andy Nicholson's pictures of the action....