Frensham Pond Sailability sailors win at Access Class Nationals
The 2008 Access Class National Championships were held at Burghfield Sailing Club on 11 and 12 July. The Friday forecast was for rain and squally conditions which duly arrived, but racing commenced on time at 1130 with 12 entries in both the 303 and 2.3 classes and two in the Access Liberty class, both of which were using electrical control systems. The helms of all participating boats had a qualifying disability under the rules of the Access Class Association (UK).
Race 1 for the single-handed 2.3s proved to be between Clare Andrew of Rutland and Ann Lewis of Frensham Pond with Clare winning after Ann apparently collected some Burghfield weed. The leaders in the 303 class, in which single- and double-handers compete together, were both from Frensham Pond with Paul Holzherr beating David Harris to the line.
Two more races were held after lunch, and Ann got her revenge, beating Clare in both races for the 2.3s. There was some concern when Chris Emmet of Rutland Sailability was tipped out of his part-electrical-control 2.3 by a particularly heavy squall. However, the Burghfield Safety Boat soon had him out of the water. There were new winners in the 303 class with newcomers Ian and his father Paul Clements from Chew Valley Lake winning race 2 and past champions Chris Atkin and Johnty Dickinson from Woolverstone Project (Ipswich) winning race 3. At the end of day 1 the 303s were evenly balanced with Paul, David and Chris/Johnty on similar points. The Libertys were also evenly balanced with Dave Durston of Whitefriars having two wins and Simon Harle of Rutland the other.
The forecast for the second day was more promising, and conditions were indeed much easier with the wind dying briefly during the sixth and last race. Race 4 for the 2.3s was a repeat of race 3 with Ann beating Clare, but an interesting battle was developing behind them with club-mates Janet Lee and Pat Jackson of Sussex YC scrapping for third place overall, each with two third places on the water. Paul Holzherr won race 4 for the 303s, and Dave Durston clocked up a third win in the Libertys. Race 5 followed back-to-back and there was a loud cheer when Geoff Gibbins 2.3 arrived first, with a good lead, at the windward mark near the clubhouse to break the apparent female monopoly. He held on to his lead to the finish, with Janet Lee second and Ann Lewis relegated to third. There was also a new winner, David Harris, in the 303s and Simon Harle succeeded in the Liberty class to give himself a chance if he could win the 6th and last race.
Over lunch the leading contenders were busy calculating their overall prospects before the final race. It seemed that Ann Lewis and Paul Holzherr had the 2.3 and 303 classes won, but there was all to play for further down the fleets. Nevertheless Ann and Paul went afloat for what proved, in many respects, the most challenging race of the championships with significant variations in wind strength and direction. Chris Emmet established a lead in his part-electric 2.3 and held on until the last mark when Ann Lewis passed him to confirm her status as the National Champion. Ian and Paul Clements had another win in the 303s but, with only three races completed out of six, were out of contention overall. Simon Harle won the last Access Liberty race to become National Champion on a tie-break.
The organisation by Burghfield afloat and ashore was first class with two hoists used to transfer wheelchair user into and out of the boats and excellent courses for the 45 minute races. An AGM was held which will be reported on the website www.accessclass.org.uk , together with the full results of the event.
The main prize-winners were:
Access 2.3 Class
1st and National Champion 2008 Ann Lewis Frensham Pond Sailability
2nd Clare Andrew Rutland Sailability
3rd Pat Jackson Sussex Yacht Club
Access 303 Class
1st and National Champion 2008 Paul Holzherr Frensham Pond Sailability
2nd David Harris Frensham Pond Sailability
3rd Chris Atkin and Johnty Dickinson Woolverstone Project
Access Liberty Class
1st and National Champion 2008 Simon Harle Rutland Sailability
2nd Dave Durston Whitefriars Sailing for Disabled
Click this link to see the 2008 National Championships Full Results