It is 45 years since the ubiquitous Mirror first hit the water and saw its first National Championships held at Royal Corinthian YC, Burham, so it was fitting that the Class returned to this historic venue for its first Championships of 2008. Also highly appropriate that Allen Brothers whose association with the Mirror class goes back to its formation should come on board as both event and Nationwide sponsors.
The 2007 Mirror season was generally a light weather affair, but with several race days lost to too much wind. The heavy wind sailors breathed a sigh of relief that the 2008 season kicked off with 20+ knots of wind. With an incoming tide and easterly wind, race 1 got off without a hitch. This saw Team P+B members and 2005 World Champion Ross Kearney crewed by Katy Jones dominate the race in an emphatic fashion in their new Winder MK3 Mirror, easily mastering the challenging conditions, signalling their intentions to take the championships and address the unfinished business of winning the Nationwide Championships Series, which they narrowly missed out on last year to David and Beth Grey, despite leading the rankings for most of the year. David Conlon and Mitch Booth came in second, with Youth Squad sailors, Brendan Sweeney and Max Ligema third.
By race two the tide had changed and the wind built slightly, to give much rougher conditions, and a general recall with the fleet pushed over the line. The restart under black flag, saw a much closer tussle with the top three boats from race 1, with RYA National Squad Sailors Will and Hannah Parkinson, and Tom and James Lovesey all pushing for the front of the fleet. With these five boats locked in battle, the pressure got to Ross and Katy who capsized spectacularly on the second reach, caught for all on National Coach, Peter Aitken's video, showing how fast a Mirror goes with the sailors outside the boat, hanging on for grim life. With Ross and Katy still perfecting their water skiing, Brendan and Max rose to the occasion to win their first championship race and lead the series overnight as the Race Team sensibly decided the fleet needed an early finish, following a tiring and cold day.
The evening entertainments started with a video debrief by RYA National Squad Coach, Peter Aitken, allowing the whole fleet to learn from the thrills and spills of the day. This was followed by the customary Mirror evening meal and the Allen Brother Prize Draw, where many came away with some great Allen products, including cleats, blocks and burgees.
The forecast for Sunday was for similar conditions, but the fleet were greeted with more gentle conditions and sea mist. With only two races in the bag, efficient and tireless work by the beach party got all the boats launched quickly. As the fleet got further out along the River Crouch, and disappeared in the thickening sea fog, the instructions were given out to hold the boats near the end of the moorings and await for the mist to lift. After an hour and with no sign of the visibility improving, the Race Team took the decision to lay a short windward leeward course near the river bank to confine everyone to a small area and within sight of the rescue boats.
The lighter conditions and tight course of Race 3 saw some new faces hit the front of the fleet, with Juniors Charlotte Fitzgerald and Annie Sibthorp winning from David and Emily Grey. Chris Rust and Oliver Newman fought a close battle with five different boats taking the lead during Race 4 with Charlotte and Annie maintaining their turbo speed of the day to take second.
With four different race winners, the championship was wide open going into the last race which with the tide and wind building gave rise to challenging conditions and several attempts to get the fleet away. In the end it was Youth Sailors David Conlon and Mitch Booth, who had been the only boat to feature in the top five in all races who won this race comfortably form fellow Brightlingsea SC members, Millie Newman and Sarah Bines. This win and consistency ensured David and Mitch won the Easterns and the Allen Nationwide Series I. For David who has recently passed his driving test this was the first open meeting attended without parental support and his first Championship win.
The Allen Brothers Mirror Nationwide Series consists of six championships across the season, including the Inlands and is used to form Mirror Class Rankings
1st David Conlon and Mitch Bond - Brightlingsea SC
2nd Brendan Sweeney and Max Lgema - Royal Windermere YC
3rd Chris Rust and Oliver Newman – Brightlingsea SC
1st Charlotte Fittzgerald and Annie Sibthorp - Itchenor SC
2nd Alex Lloyd and Jack Morre - RYA/Blithfield SC
3rd John and Clare Peterson – Whitstable YC
1st Charlotte Fitzgerald - Itchenor SC
2nd Emma Spruce - Hill Head SC
3rd Inge-Lisa Hansen – North Lincs SC
RYA Zone Squad
1st Harry Yeoward and Nick Elsdon - Rohsneiger BOA and Royal Windermere YC
2nd Alex Lloyd and Jack Moore - RYA/Blithfield SC
3rd John and Clare Peterson – Whitstable YC
1st Angus Carlisle - Draycote SC
2nd Simon Lovesey - RYA
3rd Pat Hufton - Shustoke SC