ISO Nationals: Herne Bay SC (25th - 27th August)

Herne Bay SC excelled in their hospitality and organisation over the Bank Holiday weekend for the Cousin Trestec sponsored ISO National Championship.

Though a disappointing turnout, in this transission year for the ISOs having switched sail suppliers from Sobstad to Hyde, the fleet was a very competitive one with 4 past National Champions competing. A variety of sail and wing combinations were used throughout the fleet proving that there was certainly not a categorical fast combination that stood out. That is of course if your names not Lloyd & Graham sailing the Super fast Superspars boat (no wings and all Hydes) who dominated the event.

Early Saturday when the boats started arriving there was a light offshore breeze - 12 hours later there was a stronger offshore breeze - problem was in-between when 3 races were scheduled the wind clocked 360degs.... Race one start one - general recall. Black Flag... Start 2 the wind was disappearing all the way up the 1st beat and combined with the ebbing tide meant that boats either got taken down the coast or for those who got an early transit on one of the 30 masts of the wind farm, crabbed sideways at an angle of about 30deg to their course until the windward mark was reached.. and passed as no-one could make any forward motion. First there was Mike Speller and Rob Burridge twice ISO Champions together with Local Hero Chris Brearly and Gary Danielwicz. On seeing this the race officer John Bennett made his 1st abandonment of the weekend - the best call by far, especially for the 4 black flagged boats which included Mike and Rob. After a wait for the wind to build and settle from a North Easterly sea breeze direction two races were sailed, with the re-sail of race one being put off till the next day.

Lloyd Walker and Graham Sexton (2005 Champions) won both with an impressive display of winning the start of each at the pin end and sailing off free and fast. Jonny Wells and Bugsey (Richard Beechy) in 'Neil Pryde' battled it out for 2nd in the first race with Mike and Rob holding on to 3rd. But in the second race Pete Lindley (defending Champion) and Adam Savage sailing Team RWO took 2nd from Mike and Mandy (Mork and Mindy) Lillywhite who had some impressive bursts of speed. On shore Herne Bay continued their hospitality with excellent food and chilled beer (much of each was needed). On Sunday the wind already started from a more Northerly direction and appeared to have a bit more power to it. Again, Lloyd and Graham came off the pin end of the line with speed and pulled out a solid lead from Mike and Rob with this time Andy and Vicky Gould (2001 Champions) in third sailing the Flying Prune. But it was in race 5 (the 4th sailed so far) that the Superspars grip of the bullets was broken by Jonny and Bugsey, the National Bridesmaids who took a win from Lloyd and Graham in 2nd and Mike and Rob again 3rd. During this race Team RWO pulled out of the race, got their Joker out and placed it on the table for race 6. This time there was a change at the 1st windward mark - after a few boats returned to the line for an X flag recall Team RWO popped out at the windward mark first with Pete (3 times Champion helm) at the front of the boat and Adam waggling the tiller. They were eventually overhaulled by both Lloyd and Mike but all was to no avail as John Bennett the PRO flew his N flag for the 2nd time in the weekend for a major wind shift much to the disappointment of most - not only for the sake of the positions but knowing that we still had another resailed race to get in before the BBQ that evening.. Race 6 eventually got away again to a steadily increasing breeze but still not trapeezible with Lloyd showing a clean pair of heels again to Jonny and Bugsey with RWO (or is it now OWR) in third.

John Bennett then quickly turned the race around to start the re-sail of race one much to the displeasure of the black flag offenders on the Saturday who trapeezed all the way ashore knowing that the rest of the fleet would have a cracking last race of the day. Which they did - or so I am told!! - Same story (as I watched from the viewing platform) Lloyds blistering downwing speed gave him a good win by a few hundred metres from Andy and Vicky with Jonny and Bugs making amends for, in their own words, a poor first day. Going into the final day Lloyd and Graham were clear ahead with 5 points and Jonny and Bugs had overhaulled Mike and Rob with the self confessed Northern Hobbits in 4th. Finally some wind in the morning on Monday from the North West but now it was starting to favour Adam and Petes style of sailing - maybe they were looking for Middle Earth. They certainly found the go button leaving Lloyd in their wake with Mike and Rob holding onto 3rd from Richard and Matt Lewis who had just been out of the Chocolates all weekend unusually for them. Jonny and Bugs were back in 5th too. The penultimate race saw the Hobbits tacking out to sea in the strong tide but picking up a hugh lift on the Starboard Layline flying around the windward mark in front followed by Mike and Rob with (in respect of his form) Lloyd out of sorts... but again and for the 3rd and last time JB flew the N flag and called the fleet back for another go. This time Lloyd was back in form at the front but the Hobbits pushed them all the way with Mike and Rob 3rd again. With the breeze dying drastically we watched Lloyd sail off for an early shower leaving us to battle it out for the minor places.. Any combination of top three positions from Mike, Jonny and Adam would mean a mix of the places behind Lloyd but with Jonny hitting the pin end bouy and Adam seemingly looking for that lift on the right hand side again Mike and Rob thought they'd got it sussed in what they thought was the weaker tide.

Jonny and Bugs persistantly tacked on all the shifts out to the right and with some good speed too pulled back from a restart to lead round the windward mark with RWO close behind and Mike and Rob back in the pack - the same happened on the second beat with each sticking to their guns but the top two being joined by Ian and 'V' Moss and for some time by Steve Bell and Al Storer.. The wind died to almost nothing as first Jonny then Ian and Adam too ghosted around the Windward mark for the last time with Adam and Pete finally getting the better of Ian and Vladimira to pinch 2nd and 2nd for the Championship from Jonny and Bugs.

Thanks to Herne Bay and all involved for a great Championship but especially to John Bennett who had quite a few hard decisions to make throughout the weekend.

Overall Results Here....

Pro-Am Results Here....