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Birrell and McGovern Win 470 Nationals

10 years on from teaming up with Jonny McGovern to sail a 470 together, we got back in a borrowed 470 to sail the JDX UK National Championships at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. We probably aren’t quite as nimble as we once were, but we are older and wiser. Fortunately, Jonny has spent the last 5 years coaching the 470 squads, so he had at least evolved with the changes in the class. The UK fleet is full of enthusiasm, with 14 boats on the start line and great support from the Class Association and JDX. There appears to be a lot of young talent coming through, but for one more year at least, we were just about wise enough to hold back the youthful enthusiasm. The fleet is aiming for 25 boats in 2019 – and I will definitely be one of those again boats

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My Sailing Summer, Nick Evans – Allen Academy

My summer of sailing kicked off with a fun and relaxing time in a Feva during Cadet week at my home club, the Blackwater Sailing Club.

Immediately after Cadet Week, I travelled up to Pwllheli in North Wales to compete in the Optimist British National Championships. It was a tough event with mixed wind speeds and directions. My best results were 6th and 10th in senior gold I finished 37th overall and 15th Brit.

Nick At the Nationals, Pwllheli

Not only was there good fleet racing at the Nationals, but also team racing was featured on the schedule for the first time. It took place on the lay day and around 30 sailors took part to practice their boat handling and team racing manoeuvres. My team managed to win 6 out of the 7 races, so we came first.

I then hurried back to the Blackwater Sailing Club to compete in Club week, a social event for sailors of all ages. I sailed in my optimist and won both main and second series. A tradition at the BSC is for all the series winners to compete together to see who is the ‘Cock of the Club’. I managed to win this beating my sister who was a close second.

Next up was the Europeans Team Racing in Lago di Ledro. This was the highlight of my summer. 30 degrees heat every day with a steady 7 knots, perfect team racing conditions. Our 4-person team took to the water wearing board shorts and rash vests, even in the 2 storms where it was still 25 degrees. We completed 17 races and won just under half, winning all our races on the first day so we had a really good start.

Nick team racing Lago Di Ledro

The penultimate event of my summer was the IOCA Late Summer Championships in Poole Harbour. It was 10 knots all weekend, gusty, shifty and sunny, champagne sailing. My first race was a respectable 13th. My 2nd race saw a big right shift kick in, and unfortunately, I was on the left-hand side of the beat so I was 50th around the windward mark, a good downwind and final beat saw me into 20th. The final race was my best one of the day with a hard-fought 2nd to the winner of the event Santi Sesto Cosby. We were tacking on each other constantly up the final beat. Day 2 started with a bang as I took the first bullet of the day! Race 2 was similar with a 5th and I got a 7th in the final race of the event. Overall I came 7th out of 180 sailors (5th senior) and the worst bit was I didn’t even get a prize!

 

Nick at Poole

My final event of the summer was an Optimist open at my home club on Saturday. It was a one-day event with 4 tightly contested races. I managed to win 3 out of the 4 races so won the Open. I tried out a North R2 radial demo sail for North which was fun.

Home Water, Nick Sailing at BSC

 

Thank you Allen Sailing for helping me throughout the summer with the new auto ratchet block, spars and sails, I’ve had an absolutely brilliant summer.

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Graduate Northern Championship Winners

Brothers Ben and Gabe Hill won the Graduate Northern Championships at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club

“We had a great weekend at Bassenthwaite SC. Lighter winds on Saturday and with slightly stronger winds on Sunday we were able to win the last two races. Winning the Graduate northerns overall. Thanks to Allen for the support and Bassenthwaite SC for running a great event.”

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RS Feva Rigging Guide With World Champion

Team Allen Sailor and RS Feva World Champion, Ben Hutton-Penman, was at Allen HQ giving his boat some TLC. We took the opportunity to make a basic rigging guide. Highlighting key points to check out when first setting up the boat. If you’re new to the RS Feva or Asymmetric sailing, this quick video will show you some of Ben’s top tips for rigging up.

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Megan Pascoe at the Irish Nationals

After a good few years building up their fleet Carrickfergus Sailing Club decided it was time to host an Irish 2.4mR National Championship. Seventeen boats made the trip from far and wide across the Irish Sea, from North and South, and even Germany. Special mention to George and Ann Taylor for organising and making everything happen.

It was so nice to get back on open water and Belfast Loch didn’t disappoint with the weather. After a rather complicated briefing which included disappearing marks the fleet left the dock in bright sunshine and a nice 9 to 13 knots. Everyone settled into the tidal conditions of the first race with most heading up the shore. Local John Patrick mixing it up from the first mark with the old hands of Ulli Libor, Steve Bullmore and Megan Pascoe. Megan and Ulli escaped from the fleet with Kate Hedley reeling in Steve. These two spent the next few races stuck together at the finish even with a tie in the last race.

The fleet was tight for the following two races with Nev Millard joining the party with 2 second places. Adam Billany back in the boat after his A levels ended the day with a 3rd.

The fleet retired to the club for the evening with a great meal and spectacular view. Sunday despite a light forecast the fleet woke to a 12 knot Northerly. It was great to see quite a few sailors under the age of 20 and a mix of able bodied and disabled.

The Irish fleet has some new sailors in the fleet. Especially great to see Kevin Conway in his pretty blue boat which was getting faster and faster as the weekend went on.

Sunday decided the prizes. Ulli and Nev were battling it out with few points to split them in the shifty conditions. There was little gap from the front of the fleet to the back with everyone having really good racing.

The weekend ended with a barbecue on the club lawn and prizes. Megan won the event, Ulli held onto 2nd and Nev picked up his first major podium in 3rd. John Patrick won the Irish National trophy in 7th. Georgina Griffin was first Irish disabled in a hotly contested battle. Gina is also off to compete for Ireland at the Disabled World Championships later in the year.

The fleet had a great time at Carrickfergus SC, true Irish hospitality and a perfect piece of sailing water. Thanks to everyone who volunteered for the event, definitely one of the best venues I’ve been to in a long time. Now with the inauguration of an Irish class association 2019 Nationals look like being held in Kinsale.

Overall Results:

Pos Sail No Helm R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1st GBR 163 Megan Pascoe ‑1 1 1 1 1 1 5
2nd GER 6 Ulli Libor 2 3 ‑4 2 3 2 12
3rd GBR 144 Nev Millard ‑7 2 2 4 2 3 13
4th GBR 143 Kate Hedley 3 ‑5 5 3 5 4.5 20.5
5th GBR 159 Steve Bullmore 4 4 ‑6 5 4 4.5 21.5
6th GBR 155 Adam Bilany 5 ‑7 3 6 7 6 27
7th GBR 121 John Patrick 6 ‑8 7 7 8 8 36
8th GBR 161 Jonny Barker 10 6 10 ‑13 6 7 39
9th SWE 315 Kevin Conway 8 10 9 8 9 ‑13 44
10th IRL 906 Georgina Griffin ‑14 13 8 10 12 11 54
11th IRL 906 Judy Moynihan 9 ‑15 14 9 13 9 54
12th GBR 30 Garry Crothers ‑13 12 12 11 10 10 55
13th GBR 137 Kerry Mussen 15 9 13 12 14 (DNS) 63
14th IRL 601 Patrick Hassett 12 14 ‑15 14 11 12 63
15th GBR 54 Jonny Harvey 11 11 11 (DNC) DNC DNC 69
16th GBR 695 Sean McCullagh ‑17 16 16 15 15 14 76
17th IRL 1 Shane Barker 16 ‑17 17 16 16 15 80
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Nick Evans Euros Blog

In May at the Optimist Selection Trials, I qualified to compete at the 2018 European Optimist Championships at Scheveningen in the Netherlands, alongside six other British sailors – three girls and three other boys.

The racing started on the 25th June but to get used to the conditions, check rigs, go through measurement and registration, the team went out five days ahead.

Measurement was an entirely new experience. All boats were weighed while there was nothing in them, even the buoyancy bags had to be deflated! Sails weren’t allowed to have sail ties on while they were measured, foils were weighed, checked for size and width/length. My rudder was 12 grams too light, nothing that my coach Robbie Burns couldn’t fix.

Unfortunately, we lost two training days because of too much wind. Instead, we did lots of theory and fitness training, including a 5km run, stretches/yoga and swimming. We did go out on the last day of training and tried to get used to the wavy, choppy and tidal conditions. The waves were especially big that day, following the storms of the previous days. Not only was it hard to get good boat speed but there was lots of tide.

The next day (Sunday) was one of the best, even though we didn’t sail. We saw the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race and Dongfeng winning by a tight margin. We could see the boats from miles away as they were huge. Later in the week, we were lucky enough to sail beside some of the VOR boats while we launched and came back in.

And now to the racing: it was really, really tough! Every boat there had incredible speed and tactics.  On the first day, the lightest day, I got a 30th and 50th, so a solid start. On the next day which was the longest day (we got back in at 7.30pm having launched at 10 am) we did three races and I got 52nd, 19th and 37th, which I was pleased with. On the third day, the final day of qualifying racing I got a 38th and a 14th, a good finish to the series putting me in 66th overall (out of 150 boats) and in Gold, so I was really pleased.

On the fourth day of racing there was 14 knots and sun, perfect sailing conditions. I got a 44th and 69th an okay start to Gold fleet. We only did one race on the final day of racing and I finished 60th which I was disappointed with, as at one stage I was coming 40th but then I missed a shift and lost 20 places so quickly.  At the end of the event, I finished 67th – and 55th European!!

Overall the team did really well. Six of us made it to Gold fleet which everyone says is a great achievement. It was an amazing experience. Tough but exciting racing in which I learnt a lot. I also met loads of sailors from some of the 44 countries represented at the event. I want to thank Allen for the great blocks, especially the new AutoRatchet, my parents for giving me the opportunity and my head teacher for giving me the time off school.

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Megan Pascoe – National Champ!

I turned up on the bank holiday Friday, after a long journey to Poole Yacht Club, for the UK 2.4 Nationals as part of the International Paints Poole Keelboat Regatta. After a bit of rigging and the odd beer, it was time for bed as we had an early 9 am start on Saturday.

 

The big breeze that we expected wasn’t quite as strong as forecast but we still left the shore in 15 knots. With the best the British and a few German’s could offer in terms of 2.4 sailors it was going to be a tough event and it certainly turned into really good racing. As Saturday continued the breeze was dropping steadily. I started the regatta with some really good races; 3 bullets but not by much. As we started the racing early it then meant it was a nice afternoon on the balcony of Poole Yacht Club.

 

Sunday morning saw a nice 8 knots and a slight delay while we waited for more wind. Once we got out on the water it soon became apparent that the windward mark was under Brownsea Island; it was a tricky day out. I started ok but struggled to find the best way around the course. Jonny Currell was having a much better day and after finishing the last race in just enough water we were equal points going into the last day.

 

Sunday night was at the newly built Parkstone yacht club, where I kept getting lost. Monday morning was very light and after lots of floating in no wind racing was postponed and so we went in for an hour. Coming back out the wind had built to 5 knots and looked to be building. I luckily got off the right end of the fleet and with Jonny struggling to get away cleanly I managed to secure a win, give me the title!

 

It’s nice to get the title back, due to other events taking my time over the years and not giving me the chance to compete for it. It’s never easy to win and it’s great to have really good competition. It makes you hungry for more. We’ve been coming to Poole Keelboat Regatta for many years and it is great that we keep getting invited back amongst some very big boats.

 

Next on the agenda is my home event, Frensham, in a couple of weeks time. 

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Allen Academy Sailor Nick Evans At The Optimist Selections

I competed at the Optimist Selections Trials on the 4 to 7 May. It’s an invitational event held each year at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. The top 80 Optimist sailors in the UK compete to represent Team GB at the Optimist Worlds, Europeans, the Flanders Regatta and, this year, the North American Championships. The catch is that just a limited number of places are available. The weather was glorious but the wind not so. It was very light for all four days, never exceeding the 10-knot mark and sometimes zero, gusting zero!

PRO, Adrian Stoggall, managed to get four races off on the first day. I sailed consistently which left me in the top 10.  Unfortunately, the wind died on the next two days – which meant a lot of sitting around and waiting; something that I am not very good at. On the last day, just as everyone thought the event would be abandoned, the signal was given to launch. One last race was sailed in light and shifty conditions. I managed to end up in ninth spot overall, securing a place in the European Team. This means I go to the European Championship to be held at Scheveningen in Holland next month. I am really pleased as I achieved my goal but disappointed for some of my friends who missed out, some by just a few points.

 

I used the new Allen X2 AutoRatchet – A2360 – on the mainsheet for the first time. It worked a treat – holding fast on the upwind and giving the ability to play the sail on the downwind legs.  I was also chuffed that fellow Team Allen member – and 49er World Champion – Dylan Fletcher was on hand to present the trophies. I chatted with him afterwards. It was very interesting to hear about his plans for the year. One day I hope to sail a 49er and I hope Dylan can give me a few tips once I am big enough!!!

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Allen Academy Optimist Sailor Nick Evans Easter Blog

Over Easter I went to Holland to compete at two regattas – the Magic Marine Easter Regatta held each year on Lake Braassemermeer near Amsterdam and then the Optisprings held at Port Zelande in southern Holland.

We had two days of training before the event which was important as I needed to get use to the very choppy, shifty and gusty lake. The first day of training brought light winds and rain – a horrid combination – so we struggled to do many exercises. The next day however was much better even if it was only 2 degrees because there was a solid 10 knots of wind.

We did three races on the first day where I got a 22nd a 12th and a 24th. I was disappointed in my last race as I was coming 12th before I got caught out by a big right wind-shift.

The next day was much like the first training day with 5 knots and big wind-shifts, so only one race, instead of the scheduled four, was completed. On that day I got a 21st which was a good result as I was last around the top mark due to a poor start in the middle of the line.

The third day is normally the start of the final series but as all the flytes had not completed at least five races, there was another day of qualifying. My results were 29th, 33rd (which was my discard) and an 11th which was a good finish to an otherwise disappointing day.

I was very happy as I made it into Gold Fleet which was one of my goals coming into this event. Gold fleet was definitely a step-up and I realise how much more improvement is needed.

My next stop was the Optisprings. I did two days of training before the event which was great as it was gusting and 15 degrees, almost Spring like. The wind, however, didn’t hold out for the Regatta, with just 10 knots on the first day and 6 knots on the second.

On the first day there were four races and four bad starts for me which was disappointing.  However I managed to stay consistent with a 30th (discard), a 15th, an 11th and a 13th. The second day was lighter, so light that a race was abandoned half way down the penultimate leg. This was annoying as I was coming 5th which would have been my best race. On the race that we did complete, I won the committee end and tacked out left into pressure. I was eighth around the windward mark but due to a long run I lost 10 boats on the downwind as a huge gust came down on the other side of the course.

I think my time abroad was a very good experience as it has shown me how much improvement I need to make to be at the top of the fleet.

I want to thank Allen again for the boat and their great blocks and support and my parents for taking me.

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Ben Hutton-Penman Wins World Championships

Teams Allen sailor Ben Hutton-Penman and crew Abi Jayasekara recently attended the first major RS Feva event to be held out of Europe, the Allen supported World Championships in Clearwater, Florida.

“The RS Feva world championships were very tough and competitive with a very large range of light and heavy winds throughout the week. The event did not start as we had hoped, we scored an 11th, 5th & 2nd. It was a very light wind day, not our favourable conditions, however, my coach told me you never win or lose an event on the first day.

Having not had the best first day we concentrated on the task ahead. After a few more disappointing races we then found our stride going into Race 6 and 7, at which point we had broken the ice and found our flow with 2 bullets.  Day 3 came around, again it was very light winds which we were not looking forward too. However, thanks to the Allen 60mm X2 AutoRatchet, which I have been testing, it made for perfect control of the mainsheet. It turned on and off just at the right moments depending on the pressure in the mainsail. This really helped us to get ahead of the competition and we managed to claim 2, 2, 1, which was so nearly two 1sts, going to a photo finish on the 9th race between us and Tom Story & Rupert Jameson.

Day 4 came around, bringing gusts of over 25 knots. Perfect for Abi and I. We managed to get 2 bullets in the first race’s of the day (race 11 and 12).  However, in race 13 we were lying second in the race but sadly we had spinnaker problems, we pushed through and still managed to get a 4th. Sadly not what we wanted that day.

Overnight we were 6 points ahead. We headed out on to the water for the last day of racing with very little wind. The race committee persevered to get the first start of the day away, we had an amazing start, top 3 off the line and gaining momentum. Tom and Rupert, who where lying second overall, did not have a good start at all tacking into a large group of boats. Annoyingly the race committee abandoned the race due to the lack of wind. A couple of hours later the day was abandoned and Abi and I were World Champions.”