This weekend saw the 25th year of the Sir Kenneth Preston Trophy; in memory of the retired Vice Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron and captain of the 1960 British Olympic sailing team. Previous notable recipients of the prize (and who feature on the plaque in the Squadron) are Stuart Childerley and three times winner Laurence Mead.
This year’s event saw fourteen Etchells entered, and three youth teams. This is in keeping with Sir Kenneth Preston's personal aim to support young sailors.
Saturday began with blue skies, warm weather and no wind, which led to an hour postponement to racing. This allowed crews to tweak rigs, sunbathe and have Tiffin’s breakfasts. At midday a sea breeze began to fill in and the Etchells made their way to Hill head race area for some windward leeward courses. Three races were run, which saw competitive racing at all points in the fleet. Particular note should be made of Peter Roger’s team who took the lead in the first race and Grant Simmer’s team who came first in races 2 and 3.
Sunday saw a new band of pressure across the Solent, with brief glimpses of sunshine. The wind direction was similar to Saturday, a westerly, but with a bit more of a kick (average 18 knots). This led to a challenging sea-state of short, sharp chop in the racing area. First place in race 5 went to William McNeil and in race 6 Grant Simmer took the lead. Particularly notable was the performance of Robby Boyd and his youth team in Race five, who had a very clean and quick race and finished in 3rd.
After finally emerging from the salty sea’s, the Etchells sailors made their way to the squadron for the event dinner. It was an excellent evening hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron and a chance for many of the youth teams to integrate into the class.
Monday was the final day of racing in the SKP. The conditions were very glamorous, with blue skies and an average of 15knots, beginning as a NW and swinging round to a Westerly throughout the day. The bigger waves led to lots of surfing downwind and some great action photographs. The fleet had clean starts all day, with the comforting call of ‘line clear’ in both races. The last race of the day saw Jolly Roger winning, proving that you can win the social and then win races.
This weekend was a fantastic glimpse into the racing that is to come for the rest of the season. The Etchells class are very grateful to Peter Saxton (PRO) and his team for running a seamless event.
1st place - Grant Simmer / Graeme Spence / Sam Haines
2nd place - William McNeill/Toby Mumford/Toby Yeabsley (1st Corinthian)
3rd place - Peter Rogers/Neil Harrison/Charlie Cumberley