The Battle of the Classes 19 Jan 2009
The Royal Victoria Dock adjacent to the London Boat Show’s venue in ExCeL was the location of the “Yachts and Yachting” dinghy pursuit race, the Battle of the Classes, held on Sunday 17th January. What has this got to do with the RCYC you might be thinking? Well everything if fact, as Edwin Buckley and his team of mainly club helpers managed the racing for the organisers, British Sailing, under the flag of the Royal Corinthian.
The ‘Battle of the Classes’ is a show piece event for dinghy classes to come and demonstrate their boats and skills. Spectators get the chance to see top representatives from each of the 31 participating classes race in challenging conditions right in front of the super yachts, HMS Westminster and canal boats moored in the dock by ExCeL.
A pursuit race is particularly difficult to run. The idea is that the slowest dinghy starts first, in this case the Cadet, and each of the other pursuing classes starts at intervals, depending on their Portsmouth Yardstick. The intervals are worked out on the assumption that the race will last for around 104 minutes. The last boat to start was a whizzy catamaran, the Formula 18 sailed by Rob Wilson and Marcus Lynch which started fifty-four minutes after the Cadet and so only had 50 minutes to catch the fleet. In fact by coming in 7th they did remarkably well, given the amount of short tacking involved and shifty conditions.
The team had 22 starts to manage in fifty-four minutes whilst logging each round of the competing dinghies at the same time. The organisers provided a simultaneous live commentary from our race “box” so any mistake would have been broadcast over the whole of ExCeL! Fortunately Edwin had us and the event under control and any glitches that might have incurred in getting the results into the laptop were quickly spotted and corrected.
The day was blessed with good racing weather. Sunny with a fresh south westerly straight down the dock meant that we could set a good long windward leeward course which was easy to race. The gusty conditions meant that there were some capsizes and action in front of ExCeL but no serious damage was done.
The lead Cadet 8561 Bad Influence (formerly of the Otter fleet and raced by Ben Rhodes!) helmed by Arthur Henderson of Salcombe YC managed to hold the lead for three laps out of the four sailed and it was only into the last lap that the fast single handers gained some advantage. Arthur finished eighth overall and won the youth prize. The overall winner was Andy Couch of Blithfield SC helming a Phantom, closely followed by two Streakers (!?) sailed by Stephen Cockerill and Ian Jones respectively. They also won the team prize. Two Finns came next so it was definitely a day for non trapeze single handers.
After the debriefing and prize giving, the organising team repaired to the traditional watering hole at the show before the coach trip back to Burnham. Edwin’s team was Pat, Adam, Peter and Bev, Nigel (race instructions and protests), Gerry, Mary and Martin, Kate and Nigel, with Mark and Mandy and Paul and Sarah tallying and managing the launching and recovery.