Sigma 38 OOD Class Association
Chairman’s Report 2011
This is my final report as your Chairman, and can perhaps be considered something of an “end of term” report. Sitting down to draft it, I am reminded of many a school report in which my tutors excelled in their use of euphemisms for the simple expression – “could do better”, but in this case, I am delighted to be able to tell you all that your Class Association and the Sigma 38 Class in general, is doing very well indeed.
Above all, my recollection in 2011 is all about the racing, and boy, did we have some exciting events last year! Here’s my swift summary;-
2011 started well with strong participation in the Warsash Spring series. The racing was characterised by generally light winds, with close racing, fought out at the top between Rapscallion, Kindred Spirit and the perennial With Alacrity, in a fleet of 13 or so. Raps had it in the end, though the final results went right to the wire.
Philip Meakins stepped in to wide acclaim to run the annual
race training day in April, setting the fleet up for some exciting racing at
the Nationals at
The Rolex Fastnet race and the offshore series including the
qualification miles were the subject of a good degree of effort and focus for a
significant proportion of the
This year saw great friends and rivals work hard on their campaign preparation as sailors who have “grown up” together as offshore racers went head to head in pursuit of the series and the “big one” at the end. The qualifiers in 2011 were tough…with the overriding memories being those of windy races and fairly uncompromising conditions on occasions. Zanzara was defending her 2009 Fastnet win, but had formidable competition. Peter Diamond aided by perennial class supporter Jamie Wilkinson were putting a strong team together on Rapscallion and the dynamic duo comprising Peter Hopps and Jon England, both previous Fastnet winners, were definitely favoured on the bookies lists.
As I mentioned, the races were windy. Zanzara got out of the
blocks fast, recording a win in the first qualifier. Then Rapscallion won the
Eddystone Race. I will remember the breezy
run back from
The Rolex Fastnet itself was a classic, marked by a series of remarkable occurrences. First, may I pay tribute to the insightful decision taken by my good friend and skipper of Zanzara, Nick Gale, to ignore the protestations of an injured crewman, and organize his removal from the boat by high line to receive medical attention. The injury was very unusual, but Nick recalled a similar set of symptoms from an unrelated event back in the mists of time and insisted that he be lifted off…effectively ending the race for the team. That decision may have proved to be one of the most important race decisions taken all year.
Persephone meanwhile had a good old battle with Rapscallion and the double handed entry by Chris Choules and Phil Meakins, sailing Festina Lente with a modified sail plan. This was a race of snakes and ladders, and large leads were eroded and reversed several times during the race. Who can forget the finish in Plymouth Sound, with a forest of lights as up to 80 boats finished within a few minutes on Friday morning? Marta had a storming last section to slip past the mid section leaders Vitesse and Rapscallion and we on Persephone were delighted and relieved to cross the line first.
The annual Round the Island Race in June was another windy affair, with conditions almost right for a record-breaking time. With Alacrity led the fleet home in superb Sigma 38 conditions, tantalizingly close to the record.
Cowes Week was another windy one by and large. The racing was close. There were thrills and spills, some damage and controversy, but the dream team of Budgen / Sussmilch kept the rest at bay and won overall.
In the Hamble Winter series we all put on a show! Sigma 38s are really getting noticed again and for me, the racing was as close as I have seen it across a series. Rapscallion, Pavlova III, and of course, series winners With Alacrity, all won races in the champagne conditions we experienced through the autumn.
And so, where are we at the end of 2011 and the start of 2012?
· Boats are changing hands regularly and the enhanced profile your Class Association and the active fleet has generated is stimulating renewed interest in our boats.
· The value of the boats continues to rise in difficult times.
· The fleet looks fantastic on the race track. Our sails are great and our technique matches the superb presentation of the boats
· Numbers participating in racing throughout the calendar is on the up
· More boats are winning prizes
· The racing is very close
· We offer advice to new owners
· The Association is on a sound financial footing enabling us to support the fleet as one design, with masts and an increasing range of spares and equipment.
· Membership of the Class Association is stronger than it was 5 years ago
· The Class is really friendly – underpinned by a full social programme. People remark on this when they join us
· New owners are actively contacted and encouraged to join the Class Association
And so to sum up my end of term theme, well, yes, we can always do better, but in my view, the work we have done and commitment our Committee has shown has been well worth it. We have real tangible results following our efforts. The Sigma 38 community has a tremendous sense of affinity and we are a considered real force in yacht racing. There remains work to do in enhancing our competitiveness in mixed fleet racing and the Committee is considering a range of ideas, mainly to do with sails and sail-plans. But that is for the future.
It is especially pleasing to see our yachts sailed by younger sailors as well as those of us in the older generations, and so, I assert that we are really in rather good shape!
Much or what we have achieved is due to the simplicity of the concept, which is perhaps defined by a mantra, which we repeat frequently, and regularly…One Design Racing. This is the “USP” of the Sigma 38 Class and we erode the rigour with which we define our status at our peril.
It has been an honour to serve as the Chairman of the Sigma 38 Class Association. I have enjoyed the time immensely. I have had a superb Committee and fantastic support from each and every one of them, past and present throughout my term of office. I am also delighted to be able to tell you that we have a new Class Chairman in Rob Lee who is poised and ready to take the Class onward and upward.
And finally, may I be the first to congratulate Peter Diamond and the crew of Rapscallion, who are our new Grand Champions for 2011. They have sailed superbly all season in different conditions, both inshore and offshore and are deserving of our admiration and praise for a series of fine performances.
Happy New Year and Good Sailing in 2012