After the official reports, here is Rob Lennox’s inside view and report from the ‘Battle of the Classes 2016’…
I was lucky to represent the D-Zero class at this year’s Battle of the Classes alongside the more obvious choice of the National Champion Ian Morgan.
The event was held on the last Sunday of the Southampton Boatshow to be a showcase of dinghy racing right by the show, with entries restricted to 2 per class.
The joining instructions came with a detailed timetable from 08:30, so I arrived at Southampton Water Activities Centre at a respectable 10:00. The boat park was already congested but was about to become much more so with the arrival of two National 18s which each seemed to need 3 boat parking spaces! I was able to squeeze alongside an Aero so I was able to show off Dan Holman’s superior design.
With Netley Sailing Club being just around the corner, I wondered whether Ian would arrive by boat, but he drove in at a sensible 12:00, bragging that he lived just over the bridge.
The 12:30 briefing contained an alarming list of hazards to watch out for – big ships, fast ferries, youths driving Honda powered RIBs, yachts being test sailed, boat owners not knowing the rules of the road. To cap it all there would be an exclusion zone for a fly past! All this with a reaching start just off the pontoons for maximum spectator fun.
Ian and I launched together after a delay to allow a Europe sailor to refix her tracker and an Albacore to take ages hoisting their mainsail at the bottom of the ramp. A long beat out to the racing area in the strongest wind of the day followed, making me think I’d be tired on the drive home. We arrived in the starting area just as the sole Mirror was setting off, 23 minutes before us.
The start line was very short especially as we would be the most busy start time with Scorpions, Aero 9s, and Blazes all going with us on a fast broad reach. There wasn’t much room behind the start line either, you were soon marshalled by the youth challenge RIBs if you did. In fact, keeping out of everyone’s way was so exciting I managed to miss the fly past altogether! As it was, I nearly took out the eventual race winning 420 as it began its approach to the line.
As usual, some of the classes seemed to be late for their starts, but I just knew that wouldn’t happen to us. In the end, Ian and I got cracking starts (some might say I was borderline OCS) and I managed to lead the group on a fast reach. The course had us bearing away on to a run around a corner with moored ships so it was a difficult call to know how close to them to go. Ian made a much better job of the short run than I (sounds familiar?) and then we were on to the only beat on the course where we began to be held up by the Finns who had started one minute ahead.
The next leg was a long, very tight reach, on which it was hard to go below a slower boat (especially if it had large sails!) in case you ended up not fetching the mark, so we pretty much marked time until the next run back to the starting area and another lap.
On the next long reach we had another parked-up moment, this time well to leeward of a yacht – I could not believe how much it was affecting the wind. Eventually we were able to break clear of the Finns on the beat and we were able to put good distance between us, the Finns, and the Aero 9.
On the next lap I was able to pick up a gust and overtake Ian, managing to stay ahead of him for a whole lap before he did pretty much the same to me.
Time was running out for us now though, and according to the trackers as the 90 minutes elapsed, Ian was 16th and I was 18th.
It was a day and course to either be in a slow boat near the front or to be in a dramatically fast boat able to pull through on every leg. Nonetheless it was an enjoyable experience and I think we performed respectably.
Rob Lennox GBR195
Ian Morgan has also edited & shared some on-board footage (before the battery died!)
For the full results covering all classes, please click here