The Flying Fifteen Southern Championships took place at Hayling Island SC on May 12th & 13th, with the event also acting as the second qualifier for the 2019 World Championships.
The relatively modest entry of 30 boats was undoubtedly subdued by the forecast of very light winds, and indeed the first day of the event was lost entirely - which at least took the pressure off local member Charles Apthorp who, as he often seems to be at Flying Fifteen events, was performing major fitting-out work to his boat.
The second day of the event dawned bright and sunny and with the promise of some wind, but racing was again initially postponed until the breeze had built sufficiently to allow the fleet to sail out into Hayling Bay against the incoming tide.
Windward-leeward courses were used for the racing, with the Race Officer sensibly and frequently adjusting the length of the legs to give testing but not over-long races in a wind which built throughout the day. By means of this, plus rapid deployment of the black flag at every general recall, it was still possible to complete four of the five races that had originally been scheduled for the event.
Hayling SC is renowned for the strength of it's home Flying Fifteen fleet, but the light winds and flat water (and long, floppy downwind legs) of the early races seemed to favour the visitors, with for instance the first six places in the first race all going to lake sailors – the winners being Simon Kneller & Dave Lucas from Grafham SC, followed by David McKee & Mal Hartland from Dovestone SC in second and Jeremy Davy & Martin Huett from Draycote SC in third. In the second race the local boat of Richard Lovering & Matt Alvarado won, followed by Graham Vials & Chris Turner from Lyme Regis SC and then McKee & Hartland again.
Classic Hayling conditions began to return with the wind freshening and waves building for the third and fourth races. Vials and Turner (previous World Champions) won the third race with Charles Apthorpe & Alan Green (boat now more-or-less screwed together) in second and McKee & Hartland again in third. The final race of the event saw Davy & Huett take the gun in their famously fast-but-scruffy boat, with followed by Vials & Turner and Lovering & Alvarado respectively.
So the overall winner of the 2018 Flying Fifteen Southern Championships was the familiar pairing of Graham Vials & Chris Turner from Lyme Regis SC, followed by (on equal points) Jeremy Davy & Martin Huett from Draycote in second and David McKee & Mal Hartland in third.
Thanks go to Hayling Island SC for hosting the event and running excellent racing in difficult conditions, and for doing their best to help (and for the competitors for helping each other) with the somewhat troublesome launching and recovery of the fleet. The circus now moves on to almost the other end of the country with the third 2019 Worlds qualifier event taking place at Loch Tummel SC over the weekend of May 26th & 27th.
Full race results are available here: Results on HISC website