The event took place in the RYA's fleet of J80s at Queen Mary Sailing Club with a total of nine teams taking part, including three international teams representing the British Virgin Islands, Russia and Switzerland.
A total of 27 races were completed on the Saturday with every team racing their opponents once in a light 3-8 knot breeze. Olympic gold medallist Percy started slowly with four losses, but he soon got the hang of it and won his final four races of the day. Eugeny NEUGODNIKOV, the Russian helm, was looking to be in good form, winning all of his races until he came up against British helm Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES, who ended his run of wins and went on to win the round robin. Younger brother Paul finished the round robin in third place with Percy and Eric MONNIN of Switzerland both tying on four race wins to place joint fourth in the round robin.
Sunday's racing saw the wind increase to 10-25 knots and provided exciting conditions for the semi-finals and final. The first semi-final took place between Mark Campbell-James and his crew of Mark Richmond, Andy Yates and Andy Clark and Eric Monnin and crew. With a best of three series, it came down to the final race. Campbell-James won the start and didn't look back from that point, winning the race and his place in the final.
Younger brother Paul and crew of Alex CHERRY, Big Red and Nick HUTTON took on the Russian helm Neugodnikov and his team of Alexander EKIMOV, Oleg KRIVOV and Nikolay KORNEV. Campbell-James won the first race, but a penalty in the second race saw the Neugodnikov cross the line first. With one race win each; it would again be down to the final race. This time it was Neugodnikov on the receiving end of the penalty and Campbell-James sailed across the line to win the semi-final and go through to face his older sibling in the final.
The final kept the umpires busy and with the sibling rivalry was guaranteed to be a close fought battle. Both boats were extremely close the whole way around the course but it was Mark that managed to get out in front on the final downwind leg to take the first win of the final.
Paul Campbell-James was now going to have to pull out all the stops to prevent his brother winning the weekend. Unfortunately age and experience got the better of Paul, and when Mark handed his brother a penalty in the second race of the final it was all over. Mark and his team had won the weekend and his place in the Final on the 5th/6th March 2005.
With the final decided, it was now down to the sail offs to decide the rest of the finishing order. Neugodnikov defeated Monnin in the sail off for third and fourth place, and Iain Percy defeated John GREENLAND for fifth and sixth place.
Winning helm, Mark Campbell-James was very pleased to go through, 'It's great to win this time as the first weekend didn't go as well as I'd hoped. To win following a head-to-head with my brother was rewarding. I would like to thank my crew, Mark Richmond, Andy Yates and Andy Clark - Mark and Andy (Clark) have only ever match raced once before. This is a great event and gives us all a chance to take on the world's match racers thanks to the RYA and JPMorgan Fleming Asset Management. I'm sure Paul will be back on future weekends to secure his place alongside my crew in the Final weekend in March 2005 where there'll be some even tougher competition.'
Iain Percy also commented on the event: 'It's great for us to come here and has been a good chance to further my skills in order to return to my America's Cup team. Ian Williams (GBR) was part of my crew here and is a very experienced match racer, so he gave me tips throughout the race. This is a change in philosophy for me and a real change from Olympic fleet sailing. It has been really good fun and this weekend has been a refreshing change.'
In conjunction with the RYA (Royal Yachting Association), the JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge began on 27th/28th November 2004 and will continue through to the Final on 5th/6th March 2005. The race weekends are being held at the Queen Mary Sailing Club, Sunbury. More than 250 young sailors from across Europe are expected to enter into one of the seven JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge race weekends, in the lead up to the Final in March 2005.
1, Mark Campbell-James, Mark Richmond, Andy Yates, Andy Clark
2, Paul Campbell-James, Alex Cherry, Big Red, Nick Hutton
3, Eugeny Neugodnikov, Alexander Ekimov, Oleg Krivov, Nikolay Kornev
The next JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge weekend takes place on 29th/30th January 2005. A list of all the dates and how to enter can be found on the RYA website