Corinthian Otter Ben Hutton-Penman, sailing with Lucy Hewitson, won the RS Feva national championship and with it a ticket to the Endeavour Trophy.
Ben made the transition from the Optimist class to the RS Feva less than a year ago, said that turning up at the Feva nationals in Torbay, with 111 boats on the startline, was a bit of a shock. “I qualified for the Feva National Squad during the winter and whilst Lucy and I felt we were up in the top half of the squad, we certainly were not winning everything. Going into the nationals we just hoped we would be top mixed pair.”
With plenty of wind and wave practice through training on the River Crouch, Ben said the big winds on the first day at Torbay helped. “We got two first and two second places and that was important because it gave us belief that we could do it. After that we just had to remain consistent and careful when it was light.”
Although racing at the Endeavour will present the ultimate in competition terms, Ben and Lucy’s experience from the last race of the Feva nationals puts them in good stead. “We had to beat Pierce (Harris) and Alfie (Cogger) by two places to win, it was actually down to the final beat of the final race.”
Having both raced RS200s at the nationals last year, and given the fact that Lucy’s parents are former RS200 national champions/Endeavour competitors, the pair are in a good position to perform well at the event.
Ben is certainly under no illusion about how competitive the Endeavour will be. “I am most looking forward to being on the start line against the best sailors in the country. It will no doubt be very hard but I will look at it as a learning experience and will do my best as Lucy and I will be very light. Thankfully Lucy has done quite a lot of RS200 sailing with her dad, which will no doubt be a great help.”
On local tips on sailing at Burnham, Ben concluded: “My advice is to worry more about the tide than a wind shift; tacking when you are headed and then ending up in the tide is never as fast as staying out of the tide.”
The three-day event starts with a training day with top coach Steve Irish on the Friday, followed by an eight-race, six to count series over the following two days.