The 2014 Spitfire Nationals took place on 27th- 18th September as part of Reg Fest at Brightlingsea sailing club. The fleet included a wide spread of ages and weights, including youth teams, adults and adult/ youth combinations, demonstrating the flexibility of the class. Boats ranged from the newest to the oldest, showing that this can be a very cheap way to get exciting close racing. The F18s and Tornados were also holding their Nationals so there were plenty of top sailors around (many of them former Spitfire racers ) to offer help and advice, as well as Spitfire youth coach Paul Wakelin out on the water.
Saturday's conditions were tricky and the very slick race team did a great job to get some racing. In the light wind and strong tide, strategy was everything and Paul Limpus, sailing with Oli Greber lead to the windward mark and extended their lead throughout the race, with Sam Rowell and Dan Smith second and locals Eddie Bridle/ James King third. When further racing was abandoned, a "race for cake" ensued to get back to the club for the famous Brightlingsea afternoon tea.
Saturday night featured a great meal and the legendary band playing until late. It was notable on Sunday morning that the Spitfire youth squad were by far the keenest and freshest with their boats rigged at breakfast time. The breeze arrived and the first of 4 races saw Olly and Ben Harris start on port and hold first place for the whole race, chased hard by Paul/ Oli and Alex Philpott/ Jess D'Arcy. Tony Smith, returning to the Spitfire after many years was also finding his pace, sailing with William Smith to 5th place.
The 3rd race had the same top 3, but with Alex/ Jess second and it becoming apparent that the championship was going to be very closely fought. This was reflected in Race 4 with the top 4 boats fighting it out on the first run and after some fast, close racing Eddie/ James coming out on top. Further down the fleet, those newer to the class were learning fast, speeds getting faster and racing getting closer by the race.
Going into the final race, any of the top 4 could still win and with a longer race and some tired sailors, Paul and Oli turned it up a notch for a convincing win from Alex/ Jess and Sam/ Dan back up into 3rd. This gave Paul and Oli the Nationals title, with Alex/ Jess second and Olly/ Ben 3rd.
Reg Fest is held every 2 years in memory of Reg White, Olympic Gold medalist and designer/ builder of many of the UK's catamarans. Reg's spirit of friendly, helpful and supportive competition was very evident at this great event.
Next for the Spitfires is training at Grafham on October 18th/ 19th followed by the Grafham Cat Open on 25th/ 26th. There will be training weekends throughout the winter and spring, open to all association members, not only youth teams.
Any youth sailors wanting to find out about sailing the Spitfire which is the RYA youth multi hull
contact Simon Crockford by email firstname.lastname@example.org.Uk