Sidmouth sailor Simon Heusen sails to national success


Sidmouth sailor Simon Heusen sailed his way to victory in the K1 national single handed keel boat nationals that were held at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.


The championships drew a field of 130 boats and windy conditions made for testing times for the sailors.

Day one saw two races held in moderate conditions with a steady F3-4 south-westerly wind.

Heusen, a relative newcomer to the sport, used a borrowed boat, but quickly put down a marker for the weekend even though he was sailing the K1 class for the first time!

With a moderate tide flowing west to east there was not much to choose between going left or right up the beat. Simon rounded the windward mark first closely chased by a pack including local boy Keith Willis, boat designer Paul Handley and K1 stalwarts Mike Deane and Mike Commander.

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He continued to lead the way to cross the finishing line in first place.

By the time race two came around the tide was ripping westerly out of the Solent which gave the PRO a headache as all boats pushed over the start line early!

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General recall number one closely followed by number two and then the black flag came out!

All bar Dave Pritchett managed to stay safe and the rest of the fleet got away cleanly.

It clearly paid to go left up the beat out into the strong tide. Mike Commander, having not seen the change of course to starboard rounding thought he was looking pretty coming into the windward mark, but quickly realised he’d over stood it as the leading boats converged for a starboard rounding.

Lap two saw more fun and games as some competitors misjudged the strength of the tide and ended up stranding themselves on the windward mark and having real difficulty pushing themselves off the 2 metre inflatable buoy, including Mike Commander and Ray Potter. Simon Heusen finished the day with another bullet pursued closely by Keith.

With a building forecast for Saturday racing was pulled forward to 10.25 for the first warning signal. This meant competitors launched at pretty much low tide and several had problems grounding on the way out to the course, no doubt compounded by the need to avoid the Isle of Wight ferry leaving just after the fleet launched. With a warm southerly wind, racing was set with beats almost due south for the whole of the day. This was going to be a challenging day with winds gusting anywhere between 16 and 30 knots and a huge mixed up sea with waves coming in all directions. Race 3 saw a change of leader with Dave Guthrie leading the fleet around the course. Normal service was resumed for the next three races though with Simon Heusen cleaning up all three and Keith heading the rest of the pack. Sunday’s forecast was pretty mixed depending on which model you looked at. In the event it proved to be the most challenging day of all. Leaving the quayside in a gentle F3 south westerly it quickly built out in the Solent to a F5-6. With wind against tide the Solent conditions were becoming very testing and not all competitors ventured to the start area, but those that did were treated to some exhilarating sailing. Simon Heusen again got away cleanly to be first at the windward mark followed by Paul Handley, Mike Commander and Keith Willis, which was to be the order at the front for the whole race. That was the end of racing for the day and as PRO then abandoned sailing in light of the conditions.

Overall Simon Heusen from Sidmouth was a convincing winner with Keith Willis of Lymington Town SC second and Paul Handley from Chipstead SC third.

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