Last year’s Steve Nicholson Memorial Trophy was ‘apocalyptic’, and this Saturday’s could be pretty darn windy too....
The 151 boats entered for the Steve Nicholson Memorial Trophy are looking at a windy forecast for this Saturday’s handicap contest at Northampton Sailing Club.
The sixth event of this season’s GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series was booked out a long way in advance, and now the mixed fleet is steeling itself for a strong north-westerly across Pitsford Reservoir this weekend. After a light-airs start to the winter, with the slower-handicap boats benefiting from the softer breeze, the recent, near-gale-force Bloody Mary paid dividends for the faster boats, notably the Fireballs.
Winners of the Bloody Mary in their Fireball, Tom Gillard and Richard Anderton, are back in their repaired 505 for the Steve Nicholson. But on the confined waters of Pitsford, they will find it tough to hold back the Fireballs. Last year Anderton won this event crewing for Christian Birrell, but now he’s up against - amongst other top ‘Ballers - Birrell and his crew Sam Brearey, who have since become the reigning Fireball World Champions.
If the breeze does arrive, this is an event that could really suit the strong turnout of Contenders, not least Stuart Jones who finished an impressive 4th place at the Bloody Mary two weekends ago. Local RS600 expert, Anthony ‘Chunky’ York, will also be one to watch.
There are plenty of big names in the singlehanders, both in the Phantom and OK class, with last year’s winner Charlie Cumbley facing stiff OK competition from Jim Hunt and former world champion Nick Craig. Recently retired from 49er FX campaigning, Frances Peters will be competing in the RS Aero fleet.
In the separate gennaker division, Ben Schooling is back to see if he can repeat his survival victory from last year’s war of asymmetric attrition.
Photo © Paul Williamson