British Police at the Osprey Class National Championships, 2014

Besides winning the Single-hander Championship, Simon Hawkes also won the main PSUK Dinghy Championship in 2014. Nick Mason had been his crew. They opted to represent Police Sport UK at the Osprey Nationals in July, 2015 but arrangements did not go according to plan...

2014 Osprey Class National Championship
Porthpean Sailing Club from 19th to 22nd July, 2014

This was my second opportunity to race under the banner of the P.S.U.K in 2014.

This event had been planned for a long time and I was going to race as crew with Nick Mason soon to be (ex Met) long time competitor and friend waggling the stick.

The boat to be used was my Hartley Mk 4 all-glass Osprey with a lovely new set of North sails. Plans were sorted and leave taken for Nick. This all goes out of the window when Nick manages to injure himself quite severely whilst moving a trailer. Thankfully he has now recovered and back on the water again.

After searching for a replacement helmsman who would be up to the job at the back end through my P.S.U.K friends and finding none that could make themselves available I contacted a Phantom sailing friend who I knew was off at the time and fancied the trip to Cornwall. Tyler Harmsworth and ex National Champion in the Phantom was duly signed up.

The venue at Porthpean was as beautiful as any could want and the fact it was known for being a breezy one was good news as we were easily at the top of the competitive weight scale at over 30 stones. We needed breeze!
We got to the venue a day early and although the forecast was looking great for a tan it was not so good for lardy Osprey sailors.

The slipway was long and steep. Unless you had a group of you then no Osprey was coming up unless they deployed the tractor which was there for that purpose. Approximately 40 boats were entered and some top helms from other classes had decided to have their holidays at the same time.

As a lovely time spent by the sea, swimming and meeting friends it was wonderful. As a Championship for us, sadly we were outclassed by all the light fellas. I could give a blow by blow account of all the races but to be honest these would be a bit boring and not a great read.

Our starts were consistently good. Even the bad one we made we recovered to third at the first mark. We were on the top ten at the first mark in nearly every race and frequently in the top five.
This is where things went downhill. Our score line for the week was 20,19,10,12,7,16,11,DNC.

The high scores were on courses where they had a triangle after the first beat and the lower ones were generally where the sausage was first.

The rationale behind this was that every time we got to the top mark and it was a reach, we had to make the decision as to go high (as they all did) and hope to plane and not get rolled. Or we had to soak and hope we got clear wind and sailed the shorter distance.

We tried both methods and lost many places every time, only to regain some of them on the next upwind leg.
However on the runs we went very well, rarely losing a place and sometimes gaining through tactics and gybing in to more breeze one side of the course or the other.

The simple fact was we were too heavy to compete on the reaches. The wind was such that Tyler only really got out on the wire and the boat up to full speed on one occasion that I remember.

Overall we were 16th which was lower than we had hoped for but acceptable for the conditions we had and the way we had raced.

We enjoyed the racing and the social very much and were happy that we had prepared the boat and it was on the pace.

The front runners sailed brilliantly and consistently which was enjoyable to watch. The many battles further back were just as hard fought and entertaining.

This was probably the lightest winds over a four day period I have raced in a championship but it did not detract from the pleasure of doing the event. I thank the P.S.U.K again for their support and urge Nick Mason to be more careful in the future! Hopefully the Osprey will make it to some other Police events in the coming year.

Pictures with thanks to Chris Bilkey (Porthpean)