I14 POW week 2016 HISC

Stu Bithell & Sam Pascoe started the day clear at the top after a blistering performance in the Weymouth Town Trophy on Friday, but the strong winds were to bite 2012 Olympic Silver medalist Stu with his lack of time in the class, "It was interesting! We had good speed in the breeze but with the limited time I've had in the boat I was a little bit rusty on the handling, so going round the corners proved to be a bit tricky in Hayling Bay! We had a little swim at the bottom of the run in the first race while we were in the lead and we had another swim in the second race at the top of the second beat where we were either 1st or 2nd. A few mistakes really which in this fleet is quite costly.

In the end Stu and Sam just stayed ahead of the charging Roger Gilbert & Ben McGrane who had two bullets on Sunday. We spoke to Ben after the racing, "There was a bit more breeze today and it was quite bumpy out there which made the boat handling harder. It's always been the conditions that we've gone better in - the boat's a bit more suited to it and we just had a good day really. Stu & Sam were still looking pretty quick if they could have kept it upright! It's a big part of 14 sailing and nice to see that Stu can't just jump in every boat and sail it perfectly at first attempt!"

Third overall went to Archie Massey & Harvey Hillary who finished on equal points with Roger & Ben. Archie was philosophical after a jib sheet snapped in the penultimate race when they were leading by 100 yards and took the wrong course in the final race, "We dropped a place because of that and then lashed it between races two inches from the track and that was our setting for the final race which is not really ideal. Then, because we were playing on the foredeck between races, we didn't see the course change. It's still been an awesome week and it was great to be back on the pace - particularly in chop."

Archie & Harvey are sailing a decade old 14 and have a new hull in build which has some radical features, "We're using our old ship for the Worlds as it's a safe bet, but the most radical thing on our new Cuckoo's Nest design is that our gantry can slide fore and aft on a track - in light winds or windy weather we can bring the rudder right under the hull and in windy conditions we can put it way back so we don't sink the transom so much when we put it in negative mode. Otherwise it's really, really low volume and that's a huge risk to be perfectly honest - it's an untried hull design."

We asked Stu about the feeling of winning Prince of Wales Cup Week but not the one-race National Championship, "It's quite odd really - I came here knowing that the main event is one race. It's a little bit disappointing having not won that. We know we've not won the week even though we have won the week if that makes any sense!"

Harken UK's Ben McGrane is in favour of the one-race concept saying, "I think it's all quite good really. I think it opens it up a bit to more people potentially winning it. I think it carries a lot of prestige, it's held in high regard and I don't think there's any will to do things any differently. I've won the week and also won the PoW Cup before and it's nice to win both of them. I've had some proper battles in the PoW race and I think that makes it quite special. It's a different way of doing it but it's not necessarily a bad way of doing it - it's fun."

Archie Massey agreed, "It's always a very exciting race. I don't want to change it!

Stu Bithell was hugely enthusiastic about the 14s, "They're brilliant boats, brilliant people, they really are at the top end of development and technology. It's a good fleet and very exciting. I hope I'll be back for more. Obviously when Glen gets fit he'll be back in his boat (Glen Truswell broke his foot before the championship and Stu stepped in to helm his boat) but I'd love to come back and have another stab at it."

For full results and pics  CLICK HERE

Article by Mark Jardine

Pics by Mary Pudney

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