by Keith Callaghan 8 Sep 21:53 BST6-8 September 2019
The third and final day of the Hadron H2 Nationals at Arun YC, Littlehampton, dawned fine and clear, with a gentle but shifty 8-10 knot offshore breeze. However, this was forecast to falter later in the morning so PRO Dougal Henshall got the fleet off to an earlier start than planned for the two final races of the seven race series.
The dual at the top of the fleet was going to be decided today. Ian Sanderson (2018 champion) and Jack Holden were tied on 6 points each but with the winds lighter than on the two previous days who was going to have the advantage in the prevailing conditions?
In the first race of the day it was neither Ian nor Jack who led the fleet around the first lap. Andrew McGaw (Nottingham SC) took that honour but Ian and Jack belatedly overhauled him to take 1 and 2, with Andrew a creditable third.
Thus it came down to the last race: if Ian won, with Jack second, then Ian would win; if the other way round, then Jack would triumph. However, Ian’s time served in the H2 was far greater than that of the talented Jack and his light weather technique proved superior in the last race, giving Ian the Harold Smith National Championship Trophy for the second year running. Ian came a very close second in the first ever champs in 2017 so it is fair to say that he has dominated the class at championship level. But it was clear from the close competitiveness of the fleet that all are learning from his example so I predict that the 2020 championships, to be held at Royal Torbay YC next September, will be a tough call for Ian.
Jack Holden’s performance was equally impressive. He is clearly a naturally talented young sailor (4th in this year’s RS400 Nationals) and was lucky enough to be able to borrow an H2 at the last minute, thanks to owner Geoff Parker’s generosity.
Third place overall went to another very talented young sailor sailing a borrowed H2 – Doug Powell. Doug is a very good OK sailor and could have attended the OK nationals at Abersoch this weekend but the offer of one of Hadron Dinghies’ demo H2s proved too tempting.
Fourth overall (and I know he is disappointed with this result) was HH2CA chairman Richard Leftley. He is a fit and strong chap in the prime of life and his forte is the heavy stuff, but lighter winds on two days coupled with his lack of familiarity with the choppy sea state (he sails at South Cerney SC) proved his undoing.
Fifth placed was Simon Hipkin – the man who builds the H2. He is from same mould as Richard but his successful boatbuilding business takes up so much of his time that he had little practice before the event, which put him at a disadvantage.
One point behind Simon, in sixth place, came Jack’s father, Dick Holden. Dick scooped the Master’s trophy for the first helm aged 60-64. Close behind, in seventh place, was the winner of the Grand Master’s Trophy (65-69 years old) – Ian Dawson. I’ve known Ian since sailing against him in Merlin Rockets in the ’70s. Dick and Ian were very early fans of the H2 and it was great to see them enjoy their racing and do so well.
The final special mention goes to Kevin Connolly (Deben YC). Another early fan of the H2, Kevin is the “father of the fleet”, yet he was undaunted by the severe conditions on the first day and careered round the course until a capsize slowed him up a bit. I am sure he would have righted the boat and carried on but grounding the mast in the shallow water caused it to break, and even Kevin can’t cope with that. He completed all the other races in fine style and thus wins the Ulysses Trophy for the first helm over 70.
The H2 Class has been fortunate with its championship host clubs and Arun YC put on a great event for us, both ashore and afloat. Very many thanks, Arun YC. And lastly, we have to thank our very own PRO, Dougal Henshall and his assistants, Jon Thompson and Arun YC’s Paisley Thomson, who provided superb race management in tricky conditions.