Sailing: Parkstone's clean sweep in Challenge success

Sailing: Parkstone’s clean sweep in Challenge success

By John Withers

VICTORIOUS: Parkstone Youth sailors. Picture by Mike Millard

PARKSTONE Yacht Club’s youth members dominated the Commodores’ Challenge event against their neighbours Poole.

The young Parkstone side won the first three of the best-of-five series to clinch an emphatic success.

The challenge, sponsored by Hotel du Vin, is an annual match race series between the rival clubs’ youth sections, with all team members under 18 years old.

Competition for places is fierce with the training and selection processes taking several months.

The event came into being in 1995 when the two club commodores challenged each other.

One of those past commodores, Poole’s Dave Bennett, was out on the water to watch the action on Saturday but Parkstone’s Eric Scoble has been unwell of late and was unable to attend.

The two clubs take it in turns to run the event, but home turf is not necessarily an advantage.

This year it was Poole’s turn to be hosts and the course was set in the Wareham Channel between the club and WH1 buoy.

For match racing the emphasis is on gaining dominance during the starting sequence.

Thereafter, cool heads are required for good boat speed and crew work which Parkstone had in abundance.

In the light westerly breeze their boat speed was far superior to lead the first race by 100 yards at the first mark.

A brilliant spinnaker hoist followed and, helped by the ebbing tide, Parkstone doubled their advantage by the leeward mark.

And the leaders went from strength to strength to win the first contest.

In race two, after a change of boats, it was Poole coming in at the starboard end. After some cat-and-mouse antics a squall with heavy rain hit the course area. Racing was postponed while slight adjustments to the course took place before they set off again.

It was not to be Poole’s day, however, as the windward boat they were mouse to Parkstone’s cat and the latter was able to push them on to the course area resulting in a penalty.

Again Parkstone showed the way, not only with tactics but in boat handling too as they established a 2-0 lead.

It was a similar story in race three with Poole trailing leaders Parkstone by more than 30 yards at the windward mark.

Shifting wind direction made spinnaker flying difficult but Parkstone made the best of it, dropping early to round well ahead.

On the second and final run, there was no need to risk the spinnaker for the leading boat in an increasing breeze but Poole went for it with their best hoist of the day. It was too little too late, however, as Parkstone wrapped up a 3-0 victory.

The Parkstone team were coached by Matt Hardy and Hugh Styles. Hardy, a Parkstone committee member, sailed in the event himself a few years ago and has since become a professional skipper.

Hardy had to hand over the last few training sessions to Styles in order for him to compete in the Sydney to Hobart race.

No stranger to success, Styles is a former Olympian and current Olympic coach for the Laser Radials.

The boats used for the event were Elan 333s, with Parkstone’s Stuart Piddock loaning Energy and Poole’s Andy Macgregor loaning Panache. Crews swapped boats between races so no advantage was gained.

Poole Yacht Club are winning the series overall 12-7.

Parkstone squad: Will Reid (Helm), Johny Currell (Main), Matt Currell (Trim), Ollie Lauste (Foredeck), Ole Alcock (Trim), Alice Alcock (Pit), Eloise Wakefield, George Kennedy (Foredeck), Charlie Lush (Mast), Katie Stoat, Holly Aldridge and Liam Pardy.

Poole squad: Will Deary (Bow), Amy Sparks (Mid Bow), George Gibbs (Mast), Midge Watkins, Anna Stoate and Milly Pugh (Pit), Emma Hattersley and George Gillingham (Main), Ellie Aldridge, Jack Tate (Trim), Libby Courage (Helm), Rosie Watkins (Tactics) and Chris Doe (Coach).

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