A fantastic total of 116 entries signed on for the Inaugural Andrew Simpson Open Pursuit Races at HISC on Monday. Winner of the senior race was Nick Peters in his Solo and youth race winner was Raulf Berry in an Optimist.
Poignantly the course took the fleet down the Thorney Channel to round the ‘Star’ racing mark, in memory of Andrew Simpson, one of GBR’s most successful Star sailors who was tragically killed last May during a training session on San Francisco Bay prior to the 2013 America’s Cup Regatta. The course involved a fair share of beating against the tide up the edges of the Emsworth and Thorney channels, some tight reaching around the harbour together with some exciting short tacking and mark roundings just off the club beach.
Unfortunately the majority of the 18 strong RS200 fleet started early thus missing out on the podium places, but the leading Solos of Nick Peters and Ross Harvey started to look strong as the race neared the final 10-15 minutes. With less than 5 minutes to go the Solos managed to overhaul Angus and Fraser Hemmings in their Mirror Dinghy, but eyes were also on the leading Merlins who were coming through the fleet, fast and perilously unimpeded.
And so in the way of many HISC pursuit races, the finish was exciting and frenetic with Nick Peters hanging on to win in his Solo, followed by Russell Peters and Graham Williamson closing in fast in their Merlin and Ross Harvey (Solo) holding off a couple of 200s for third place. The Hemmings in their Mirror managed fourth just holding off the chasing fleet before the finish line.
In the Youth Pursuit race a 25 strong fleet saw exceptionally close racing to the finish with an Optimist sailed by Raulf Berry managing to keep the lead throughout, followed by Freddy Wood in an RS Tera Sport and third place going to Ellie McDonald in an RS Tera Pro.
Andrew Simpson’s parents Pam and Keith and sister Amanda Simpson were on hand to give out the racing prizes plus a large number of donated spot prizes which included a signed sailing top from Sir Ben Ainslie, an Artemis hoody signed by Iain Percy and a Hyde kit bag signed by Sir Robin Knox Johnston. Other generous sponsors included Rooster, Sports-Outlet.co.uk, Bainbridge and others.
Nearly £800 was raised for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation which aims to inspire the next generation into sailing.
Next up at HISC is the Open Pursuit Race Series is the 2014 Glyn Charles Memorial Open Pursuit Race (in aid of the John Merricks Sailing Trust) on Saturday 17 May