Great boats and superb racing go a long way to making a good class, but it is often other factors that really make a class stand out from the crowd. All the sailors and particularly the hospitality of the home teams injected something into the K6 class that will now become part of its character, with Yarmouth its spiritual home.
On shore the fleet were treated to a fabulous dinner at the Royal Solent and a spectacular boat trip up the river Yar to beautiful King's Manor, home of local sailors Jamie and Susie Sheldon. The last night's party was at Patrick and Susannah Seely's Dunsbury Farm with its stunning views from the IOW Downs across to Purbeck, starting as the sun set to the west. It just doesn't get better than this.
On the water the weather played its part. The nine race series was sailed in 10 to 20 knot breezes and blazing sunshine. Race officer George Chapman and his team from the Royal Solent did a perfect job, with superb courses, every race starting bang on time and competition that was exceptional right through the fleet. K6 racing is close, tactical and fast.
Giles and Heather Chipperfield, sailing three up with Bonnie Moody came and conquered. From the outset they achieved great upwind speed and were very quickly at the front of the fleet in several of the windward leeward races. Big fleet asymmetric racing experience in the RS400 class meant that when they were ahead they were usually able to defend their lead carefully downwind, despite the chasing pack. They scored two 5ths in the two longer round the cans races and this was enough to secure the championship.
Martin Wadhams, Amanda Davies and Claire Upton-Brown have been the boat to beat for much of this season, but this regatta was not to be for them. Despite discarding two fourths, they could not reclaim their early points deficit on the leaders. The last day's racing was probably even closer than the others and they kept a close eye on the third and fourth placed boats in order to consolidate their second overall.
Jock Blair and Andy Gray travelled down from Edinburgh for the event and their effort was well worthwhile. They scored several results in the top three and had a remarkable ability to climb back after a setback. The long round the cans race was the ultimate example. Their race included getting tangled up on the committee boat anchor line, running aground twice and rounding a mark the wrong way! Yet every time they needed a get-out-of-jail card they played it perfectly and still finished 2nd. 3rd overall was a fitting reward.
Other notable performances came from Jamie Sheldon and his team, who won the second race and managed to be first to the windward mark six times out of nine. Not the boat to start next to! Myles Mence put masses of effort into organising the event and two race wins were a part of his reward. A couple of bits of bad luck kept Myles just off the overall podium in fifth place. Peter Kirkby and Richard Baker were rocket fast downwind, but often needed this pace to make up for bad first beats. Their fourth overall was, nevertheless, a very strong performance which included winning the first round the cans race.
This event was a huge success and Yarmouth will undoubtedly become an annual pilgrimage for the K6's! And just as exciting - planning has already begun for a championship in Bermuda in early 2004! The K6 is going places...
1st GBR134 Giles & Heather Chipperfield & Bonnie Moody, Lymington Town SC
2nd GBR 102 Martin Wadhams, Amanda Davies & Claire Upton-Brown, Medway YC
3rd GBR 122 Jock Blair & Andy Gray, Port Edgar YC
4th GBR 126 Peter Kirkby & Richard Baker, Queen Mary SC
5th GBR 104 Myles Mence, Judith French, Sue Johnson, Royal Solent YC
6th GBR 116 Richard Sullivan & Gary Fryer, Royal Norfolk & Suffolk YC