The 2015 International 14 season kicked off last weekend with the traditional Easter Tray at Itchenor. Almost all the usual suspects were in attendance, although the absence of World Champions Glen Truswell and Sam Pascoe left the way clear for a new winner.
On the morning of Good Friday, the Itchenor staging was buzzing with pre-race excitement (and dremels/cordless drills).
The first race saw a close battle between four boats – George first (Archie Massey and Harvey Hillary), Pamela (Douglas Pattison and Mark Tait), Smash It! (Andy Fitzgerald and Rich Dobson) and Roborowski (Katie Nurton and Nigel Ash).
Katie and Nigel hit the front at the right time and finished about a boat length ahead of Douglas and Mark. The second race saw a similar contest, with Katie and Nigel again emerging in the lead. There was a monumental battle for second on the final reach, with Andy Peak and Graeme Oliver in their newly acquired Worlds-winning boat, Crumpet, coming out on top.
It’s a well-known fact that 14s are quick to rig, so by Saturday morning, only 23 hours after the first start, several more boats were ready, including Tom Heywood and Christian Birrell, the legendary Pascal brothers, Neale Jones and Ed Fitzgerald, Dan Holman and Hugh Maclean and Team Italia (Dominic Van Essen and Simona Saccani). However, the day turned into a shootout between Archie and Douglas, trying to re-enact their many years of rivalry at Itchenor Junior Fortnight. The battle came to a head at the top of the Emsworth channel where the leading pack, led by Douglas and Mark, all ran aground trying to get around the unusually located Marker buoy, allowing Archie and Harvey to sneak through. Saturday night saw an excellent range of cocktails on offer from the ISC residents, including Negronis, Micro-Margaritas, WooHoos, Bloody Marys, Dark and Stormys and various other nameless concoctions. Unfortunately the 14 performance at that night’s disco was severely compromised, allowing the RS 200s to establish a commanding presence on the dance floor.
Sunday dawned sunny and windless. Douglas and Mark had been kidnapped by the Easter Bunny and Andy and Graeme were also missing, presumably eating chocolate somewhere. The rest of the fleet eventually launched into a light, shifty southerly. Despite strong competition from Beast II (Julian Pearson and Nick Martin) and Magma (Neale Jones and Ed Fitzgerald), Archie and Harvey won both races to win the Easter Tray by a good margin. German visitors Jan-Martin Luhrs and Tobi Merkel finally got into their “Chichester Harbour groove”, leading the last race for the first two laps before their boom fell off.
After an excellent warm-up weekend, the 14s are now looking forward to open meetings at Restronguet and Weston, followed by the Prince of Wales Cup Week in Abersoch at the end of June.
by Katie Nurton