The week following Easter the Otter Cadet Squadron visited Rutland for two days training followed by the National Inland Championships, which were also an indicator for the British team to go to the World Championships in Puc, Poland at the end of July.
The event started on the Thursday and we were informed that as there was little or no wind forecast for the following day, it was intended to hold four races not three as scheduled.
Race One started in about 10 knots of breeze and the fleet got away first time to a clean start. By the windward mark the Otters were looking good, Katie Barr and Scarlet Anderson led round the windward mark, with Nick Sutton and Tom Jayasekara in the top 10, Jack Shorter and Shaun Scarbrook, competing in their first event, rounded in the top 30. Katie and Scarlet led until the leeward mark where a big right hand shift favoured Andrew Smith and Rory Burdock (Frensham) who took the lead and went on to finish first. Katie and Scarlet were second and Nick and Tom ninth. Unfortunately for Jack and Shaun, the same wind shift that caught Katie and Scarlet out caught them as well and they faded towards the end of the race. This race was won by Andrew and Rory, from Katie and Scarlet with Abigail Croft and Alex Page in third place.
Race Two started in much the same conditions possible with slightly less breeze. This was not a great race for the Otters, both Lara Sutton and Charlie Barr, and Sam and Joe Barr were OCS, Nick and Tom were best placed Otters at the windward in the early teens, with Lonnie Lillienthal and Ben Barr in 20th and Katie and Scarlet 22nd. By the second windwardmark Katie and Scarlet were up to 8th, with Lonnie and Ben holding their position and Nick and Tom dropping back a bit. This race was won by Abigail Croft and Alex Page (Frensham) from Henry Mills and Robert Keen (Waldringfield). Katie and Scarlet were 5th, Nick and Tom 21st and Lonnie and Ben 24th.
The Lunch Break seemed to refresh the Otters more than most with five boats finishing in the top 21. Nick and Tom led the charge. rounding the windward in the top five with, Sam and Joe, Laura and Charlie, Lonnie and Ben, and Katie and Scarlet all in the top twenty. By the second time round Nick and Tom were up to fourth, Katie and Scarlet were in tenth position with the rest all maintaining positions in the top twenty. This race was won by Henry and Robert with Abigail and Alex second, Ben Binmore and Martha Jones (Royal Torbay) third, followed by Nick and Tom, then Katie and Scarlet. Sam and Joe were fifteenth, Lonnie and Ben seventeenth and Laura and Charlie twenty first, a great race for the Otters!!
The final race of the day started just before 17:00, in light and shifty conditions, which are not usually suited to the Otters. However Katie and Scarlet led at the windward mark with Nick and Tom in the teens, the rest of the gang seemed to have peaked in the earlier race and never really got to grips with the difficult conditions. Katie and Scarlet lead throughout to take the final gun of the day from Ben and Martha, with Henry and Robert in third, Nick and Tom finishing seventeenth.
There now followed a nervous night for competitors and parents alike, as Katie and Scarlet were the over night leaders, with no wind forecast for the next day. On arrival at the club on Friday morning it was apparent that there would be no racing and the event was officially abandoned at 12:30.
So Katie and Scarlet became the overall National Inland Champions as well as winning the prize for the first girl in the Championships, the first to do so since Olympic Gold medalist Pippa Wilson. Nick and Tom were 10th, Lonnie and Ben 28th and Laura and Charlie 51st. Sam and Joe were 53rd, although these two are carrying an OCS so will move up the rankings when the first discard kicks in.
Special mention must be made for Jack Shorter& Shaun Scarsbrook, and Emma Young & Mat Jayasekara, who although they did not achieve what they had hoped for they both had flashes of inspiration, never gave up and kept smiling - the Otter Spirit lives! 'Well done' to Arthur Brown, crewing for Joe Butterworth (Fishers Green) who finished 11th for the event.
Overall this as a great event, enjoyed by all who took part, with very close racing (five points separating the first four boats), well organised and held in a spirit of friendly competition. We now go to Torquay for the second indicator over the May Bank Holiday weekend with great excitement.
Note. In the images on the right, Katie holds the National Inland Championship Trophy and Scarlett holds the trophy awarded to the highest placed girls. They are the first girls to win both trophies since Pippa Wilson, the Olympic Gold Medalist.