Sportsboat Nationals

Winner of 1720 National Championship Still To Be Decided!

Monday May 6th 2002, Author: Nigel Cherrie, Location: United Kingdom
The name S.T.B.D. on Russell Peters’ 1720 may stand for ‘Still To Be Decided’ but his crew were far from indecisive in any aspect of their performance at the 1720 National Championship this weekend as they won the two-day series with a race to spare.

Peters asked skiff sailor Tim Robinson to trim the main and call the tactics on the short windward/leeward courses with Steve Butcher and Harry Ogden sorting the middle, while Peters’ Ultra 30 bowman Jerry Hill dealt with the sharp end. The result was an impressive 2,1,1,3,5,2,2,1 over eight races with no need to sail the final race on Sunday. "Our crew work was very good. We started reasonably conservatively and rounded the top mark in the top eight most of the time then sneaked our way forward in every race," said Peters afterwards. "We also had a bit of luck which you always need."

The north easterly breeze off Hill Head was shifty all weekend, blowing between 5-15 knots on Saturday but up to 20 knots on Sunday. "With three quarters of an hour races it was hard to get up again if you dropped back," continued Peters. "We found more ladders than snakes. There were people coming third in one race and third to last in the next."

This year’s result was a reversal of last year when second placed Graeme Scott on King Quick won from Peters, but in the first race on Sunday morning it very nearly looked as though Scott may complete a double. "Last year on the Sunday we had a really bad for first race and it looked as though we were going to today as we rounded the top mark in tenth which was our worst result. We really pulled up well and got to an overlap with King Quick at the finish so that was a big gain, but we could easily have finished eighth or tenth."

By beating King Quick in the next two races, Peters was able to sail home early and still finish 4.25 points ahead of Scott in the final standings. Peters is one of the growing number of top sailors that are plumping for sportsboat and one-design racing over handicap yachting. "If you have won, you’ve won. It’s not an arms race. All the boats are identical. It’s all down to the how you set up the rig, where you put the boat and how you crew the boat.

"It is great racing when we have weekends like this," he reflected from the Royal Air Force Yacht Club in Hamble. "We just have to have more of them. Today [Sunday] we were in by 1.30pm and we had sailed four races."

King Quick finished 8.75points clear of class newcomer Mike Lennon and his crew on Delirious, who took third. Lennon is a multiple Melges 24 champion but has not stepped into a 1720 for three years. Lennon is known for his work at Hyde Sails who are heavily into supplying for the 1720 class so he has taken on a mini campaign for the year.

With Lawrence Mead calling tactics, they started well as Delirious led at the windward mark in the opening race on Saturday morning, going on to cross the line first in front of Peters. "This weekend was about getting off the start line cleanly and being able to take the first shift," said Lennon. "Yesterday it paid to get out to the left of the bunch. It was a long beat so you had a lot of runway on the first tack to see what was happening and take your first tack across. "This morning we led at the windward mark, but then got in a huge hole on the run and had boats sailing round us on both sides so we were fourth at the leeward mark dropped the kite in the water."

Fourth in that race, plus another fourth and then a sixth (after not finding a gap on the port layline) was wiped away as Lennon won the final race of the championship to fend off Star class sailor Mark Mansfield and John Rickards on Babbalaas Bach for third.

In fact it was only these top four boats that shared the race wins and most of the second places between them all weekend. Only John Evans and the Running Guns crew were able to interrupt with second position in series race five.

After Skandia Life Cowes Week, the class will return to the Solent en mass in September for the European championship when over 50 boats are expected. Can Peters win so convincingly again then?

Results.... page two.

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