30 contenders arrived for the third round of the National Travellers series held over the weekend of 7th & 8th of May at Highcliffe Sailing Club.

Tim Holden at Highcliffe

Highcliffe was the first sea event of the series and final event before the National Championships in two weeks at Porthpean SC. The event was also run in conjunction with class of 6 RS 600 and a fleet of OK’s. The forecast for the day was a steady 15 to 18 but out of the lee of the shore a strong 20 gusting higher was greeting all the sailors.

Race 1 got under way with Tim Holden reaching the windward mark first with a 50-yard lead over the chasing pack. The lead was short lived as the next beat Holden went the wrong way with Graham Scott and Stuart Jones going the other way and pulling clear ahead. Holden finally caught up with Jones although Scott was away to take the gun, with Holden second and Jones third, and the chasing pack of Matt Aston, Keith Paul and up and coming youngster Phil Dickinson finishing an excellent sixth.

Race 2 start gun fired with half the fleet over the line resulting with a general recall and a new starting procedure. The next start was a minute early to the surprise of the fleet with Scott taking the advantage to make a port flyer and sail ahead of all the fleet and away with the race. The battle was for the other places with Ben Holden leading a chasing pack with Jones, Holden, Aston and Simon Mussel close behind. The finishing order was Scott, Jones, Ben Holden and Tim Holden.

Race 3 started cleanly with the wind at the maximum for the day Matt Aston found his form and sailed away to win the race by a country mile from a chasing Scott. The fleet behind consisted of Simon Mussel, Ben Holden, Tim Holden and Jones. Some close racing between the pack followed, with Mussel taking the easy method on the gybe marks to the amusement of the others. The final result ended with Aston taking the honours from Scott, Mussel and Ben Holden.

The evening social was a short trip by Mussel cabs to the local curry house and fine drinking holes to debate on the days results and fatten up for the next days racing. The overnight results showed Scott in first place with Jones, Holden and Aston behind. With Phil Dickinson leading the Silver fleet from Mussel and Nick Noble leading the bronze fleet from Alan Hudson.

Sunday dawned with the wind having reduced in strength slightly and with the sun out, Race 4 got away cleanly with Tim Holden making the windward mark first followed by Scott, Jones, Ben Holden and Aston. The race order stayed the same for the whole race giving Tim Holden his first win of the weekend.

Race 5 got away with Ben Holden and Dickinson going right, Scott and Paul Mew going left and rest going up the middle. It paid for the corner boys as Ben reached the windward mark first with Scott close behind with the chasing boats 50 yards behind. Scott showed the way and ghosted past Ben Holden on the reach to take the lead.

With the wind becoming more patchy and fluky mistakes were happening. Scott gave the lead back to Ben after going over on the beat, making Tim Holden second and Jones a close third behind, with John Browett fourth. After the next lap Tim Holden had got by his nephew, and with Jones on a mission to gain second spot it was not long before Jones and Browett had past Ben as well, with Scott close behind. The final outcome was Tim Holden taking the gun from Jones with Browett third and Scott getting fourth from Ben Holden on the line by millimetres. Although the results were altered slightly after Browett was declared over the line at the start and was disqualified from the race, giving Scott third place, his worst result of the weekend, and the event from Tm Holden and Stuart Jones with Ben Holden finishing fourth. Phil Dickinson took the Silver fleet prize and Nick Noble the bronze fleet prize.

Roll on Porthpean for the National Championships in two weeks time, with an expected turn out of 60 boats.

1st Gold 691 Graham Scott, Porthpean
2nd Gold 2318 Tim Holden, Halifax
3rd Gold 701 Stuart Jones, Datchet
4th Gold 2315 Ben Holden, Halifax
5th Gold 702 Matt Aston, Datchet
6th Silver 681 Phil Dickinson, Weston

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