Chairman’s Annual Report 2013
Published 14:00 on 24 Jan 2014
Our 25th year – and quite a year it has been. The cold start to 2013 made the adhesion of the
all-important anti-foul a challenge many crews decided to decline and wait for slightly warmer
weather. This unfortunately affected the number of entries lining up for the season opener, the
Warsash Spring series. Whilst it pains me to say, I think they made the right decision…the six
Sigma38’s that did make the start were greeted by some pretty lousy weather I recall, with the
opening race being a cold wet light winded procession, where my crew actually asked if we could
tack or gybe even when we didn’t need to, just to keep warm. The series of course did produce a
winner and, that was the start of a rather successful season both on and offshore for Mefisto.
Training Day – Once again run by Philip Meakins and ably supported by some of his highly
experienced crew from Festina Lente and some less so (me) the boats that attended were treated to
a great day of practice starts, short tactical races and, some great on the water coaching, with the
added attraction of our newly purchased member of the Sigma fraternity, Sigmond. He is our MOB
manikin, who was used during the day until the wind dropped away and it was decided to call it a
day. Sigmond is available for all to use and held, we encourage all to give it a go, especially if
considering going offshore, and is held by Yachting Sports at Hamble point.
The 25th Nationals – The Nationals were once again superbly hosted by the Royal Lymington
with our main sponsors and great supporters, both on and off the Water Yachting Sports. Held over
the first bank holiday in May, 10 yachts were blessed with some beautiful blue skies and wind
conditions which ranged from a Philip Meakins quoted “Brutal” on day one to light and shifty on day
3. Earlier in the year, Tim Goodhew had mentioned to me that he would love to enter a boat into
the Nationals crewed entirely with under 25’s. With Persephone still luxuriating in the Caribbean,
first priority was to source a boat. With their limited funds their night in Shiny GRP turned out to be
Cees, when he very generously gave Tim the other “Blue Boat”. They had limited time to set the
boat up but rocked up ready to go on the Friday evening having trained on the way down to
Lymington. Cees had stipulated that he wanted someone of mature years on board…From this point
on they will be known as the “Kids”.
This was the year we reintroduced inspections. Each boat drew lots to see who would inspect
whom, with the intention to ensure that the basic rules underpinning our class where being adhered
to. The inspection we deemed to be a success, with only minor infringements being noted and easily
rectified. The notes taken regarding our battery selection across the fleet, has been useful in
reviewing our class rules. As changes in battery technology since the last amendments to the rules
have led to lighter cells with greater capacity. So time for a change and more anon.
Four races in Christchrch bay on day one saw some pretty hairy racing, with an unfortunate and
freak incident, catch 3 people out on Marta and throwing them overboard. To his credit, Brian Skeet
and his remaining crew, recovered the departed and delivered to various hospitals, with the help of
the RNLI to make full recoveries (review available on Website). Positions after day 1: Mefisto; The
Kids on Gambit; Festina Lente. The gauntlet clearly thrown down by the Kids! Day 2, more sunshine and some tactical decisions to be made in the Coastal race. Mefisto once again got it right closely
followed by a fast improving Panda II. Day 3 dawned but saw the Solent and most of the river
shrouded in a thick veil of sea mist. With little wind and the sun lacking strength it was going to be
slow clearing. The fleet were all keen to race though, so we hung on and eventually motored out for
a start near the starting platform. Again some very close racing saw Mefisto hold onto be crowned
our National Champions for 2013, The Kids, with a stunningly consistent performance to claim 2nd
and WA taking 3rd. 2 down 2 in the bag for Mefisto.
The Round the Island & David Thomas Regatta Regatta – A fantastic turnout with
25 Sigma 38’s lining up on the start. Not all in IRC, but great to see so many taking part in this
prestigious event. Calmer conditions, if a little chilly at 0400 in the morning than the previous
couple of years and a close reach start down the Solent rather than the usual terrifying beat. This
year the race in my opinion was won or lost at the Needles. Those who chose to go inside lost out to
those who opted to stay off shore. Due to the wind direction the wind tumbled and swirled close to
the cliffs and with spinnakers collapsing and backing inshore, it gave the RTI specialists and tactically
astute With Alacrity the chink of light she needed to once again win the event, with Mefisto in
Second and Pandanova II 3rd. There had been some great individual duals coming back down the
Solent with Light just piping Pavlova III on the line by 17 seconds. The following day saw 14 Sigma
38’s, joined for the first time by the Impalas and a Sigma 33 for the David Thomas design regatta,
hosted by the Royal London Sailing Club – The wind was light and Kindred Spirit, went head-to-head
with Mefisto in some fluky conditions. Kindred Spirit posted a 2nd and two wins to claim two rather
magnificent trophies. It was great to be joined by Billy Whizz, who was not racing under the IRC
banner, but had a great RTI and David Thomas regatta. The Corinthian side to this regatta we hope
to encourage for next year, with a special trophy having been donated by Andrew & Anna Gordon,
to try to encourage more “White Sails” to join the in the racing. Once again this was a superbly run
and hosted event and we encourage all, including those in the other designs, to join us next year.
Cowes Week – It was not a huge turn out this year but those who raced thoroughly enjoyed the
week both on and off the water. With Alacrity won the event with five wins and I saw her on the
Saturday morning proudly flying her daily winner pennants as she arrived back in the Hamble and
later the following day an even prouder Cees Schrauwers and the crew of Gambit flying their
RORC Fastnet qualifiers – Mefistio duked it out with WA throughout the series and not
without their fair share of drama with a Man overboard in the Morgan cup race. The MOB was from
Mefisto, recovered by With Alacrity, checked to be OK, transferred back to Mefisto to continue the
race to Dieppe. They went on to finish 1st and second respectively, but on redress were given equal
first. Mefisto finished the RORC season in 13th with With Alacrity 27th out of 429 entries in the
overall RORC standings- very impressive when you look at the out and out racers ahead of them and
all appearing to have a 1 at the start of their handicap rating. In IRC4 they were 2nd and 4th
respectively with Pandanova 15th and Rho 20th out of 129. Well done to all who took part, a pretty
impressive show from the old girls.
With Alacrity – to receive Pera Award Accolade – presented to boats who receive redress for
rendering assistance during a race.
The Fastnet – Almost perfect conditions greeted the 300+ boats on Sunday morning. It was a
wonderful site to see the two fastest sailing boats in the world – Trimaran’s Spindrift and BP sharing
the start line with Jollie Breeze the first winner of the race 75 years ago and our very own Sigma 38’s
mixing it up with all the Grand Prix racers. We had the added attraction of two father and son
teams; Peter and Jamie Diamond on Rapscallion and Nigel and Tim Goodhew on Persephone, which
had been swiftly morphed back into racing mode. Both racing double handed but keeping the same
rating! They were joined by Fastnet first timers, at least the first time in their own Sigma’s by
Pandanova II, Jedi, Rho, Degree of Latitude and Yoda plus a collection of veterans and previous
winners. Very exciting and like many, I tracked the progress of all the Sigma’s at all hours of
the day…. I was very interested to see how all dealt with the new separation zone exclusion areas
around the Scillies, and who went north and who chose to stay south. It’s human nature to look to
the front runners, and in this case Mefisto really were impressive, but I’m sure keeping a close eye
on the Goodhews who were pushing hard in second. As the final places started to get published, it
was clear that Mefisto really had sailed an impressive race both tactically and speed over ground.
The course record for a Sigma 38 of 4 days, 3 hours and 8 minutes was held by Persephone in 2007,
claiming second in Class 3. Mefisto came home in 4 days 1 hour and 51 minutes to take the accolade.
When we take into consideration the lighter conditions and the increased course length, it really
puts their race into perspective. They were the first UK boat in class 4, finishing 5th, with all the
boats ahead of them being brand new lightweight French racers.
Congratulations to all 13 Sigma 38 entrants and to you all for finishing.Hamble Winter Series – We
were once again back on top of the pile as the biggest fleet entered into the series. The racing was
One design racing at its best, with the lead often being traded at each point in the race. Persephone
had made her intentions clear from the start, and continued throughout the whole series to be the
boat to beat. Mefisto battled to the end and with, Light who with a very shiny set of new sails had
found a real turn of pace, With Alacrity, Pandanova II and Kindred Spirit all battling out for the top
places it was a great series. The weather too made for an interesting event. Week 1 was cancelled
due to lack of wind and beautiful sunshine; week 3 was cancelled due to the first big storm of the
year. I for one absolutely loved it and it reminded me why I had bought a Sigma 38 in the first place.
The Kids in the Nationals – whilst we knew there was some serious talent on board,
especially with Tim on the helm and Hannah (Olympic) Diamond calling the shots, they were
an unknown force sailing as a team on an unfamiliar boat. Really impressive, and the knock
on effect for Cees Schrauwers and the crew of Gambit at Cowes was clear to see.
Two great bits of seamanship, recovering crew gone overboard safely and with haste, Brian
Skeet on Marta during the Nationals. Chris Choules on With Alacrity
The start of the Fastnet race but more impressive the way it was sailed by Kevin Schuchmilch
and his crew aboard Mefisto
All the Sigma 38 crews who took part in the RORC series and the fantastic spread of results,
showing that if you want to buy a race yacht but still cruise the world in safety and a
reasonable amount of comfort, get a Sigma 38.
What else – I would like to extend my thanks to your committee (Cees, Andrew, Vanessa, Nigel,
Jon, Nick and Susan and our technical advisers; Nick Chris and Philip) who have had a busy year as all
this does not happen on its own. They have worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure that we
remain active, current and the class that people still talk about, for the right reasons. I am not going
to pretend it’s been the most successful year we have ever had, but what I do know is as we move
into 2014, we are in a pretty good shape. The number at the winter series showed we have turned
the corner and trending in line with the economy. I am delighted to welcome those of you who have
joined us this evening as new owners, both locally and from Europe. I also know that we are still
receiving enquiries from those wishing to join this vibrant class and are looking to purchase.
To ensure the continued sustainability and growth into the future we have reviewed our class rules
and split them into two distinct sections, which we will review in a minute. Although a difficult task
we still have a stock of masts and have confirmed a supply route going forward which will continue
with the section masts we currently have.
The website has been redeveloped and will be released in the next few weeks. I apologise to those
who were hear last year and heard me say the same thing, but this is true. It will give us that fresh
modern feel that an active class, such as ours deserves. Hey, we will even have a Facebook link…
Check list, which we will continue to use at all one design regatta’s specifically, the Nationals and
And finally – This is the culmination of our 25th year. The organisation that has gone into all our
events this year has to have been attributed to someone; The Nationals, Cowes Week, David Thomas
Regatta, and finally our very special annual ball. My thanks therefore must go to Susan Rainger for
the exhaustive work she does to make this association what it is for us all.
Rob Lee – Kindred Spirit GBR8285
Sigma 38 OOD Class Association
Last updated 12:52 on 29 January 2015