The climatic regatta saw over eighty sailors compete in the Finn, Europe, 470, 49er and Tornado. On Saturday the sailor's skills were tested in a range of conditions that at one point saw the Tornado's twin trapezing downwind. Sunday was a different picture as the race officers struggled to find any wind in the Solent and the strong tides provided a testing race track. Subsequently the Finn, Europe, 470 and Tornado only managed one race on the Sunday whilst the 49er finished two.
One of the closest on going battles throughout the year was in the Europe class between Lizzie VICKERS, Andrea BREWSTER, who before the event were tied in second place in the ranking series. However, with Chris GILL sailing a 49er at Warsash both Vickers and Brewster had an opportunity to steal the crown. Vickers got off to a flying start on Saturday winning the first race and finishing second in the next. On Sunday the light and fickle winds meant the tide could turn for either competitor but Vickers sailed well to win the only race of the day and win the Holt RYA National Ranking Series 2004.
After three races in the 470 class it was Nic ASHER and Elliot WILLIS who continued to dominate the class, having won every ranking regatta that they have competed at this season. However hot on their heels and finishing second was Athens Olympian, Christina BASSADONE, sailing with Saskia CLARK. World renowned sailor and Barcelona Olympian, Paul BROTHERTON also graced the podium finishing third with Iain CALDER and winning a Holt goody bag for finishing as the first non lottery funded sailor.
Looking back at the year Asher said, 'It is obviously great to have won the series especially with the level of competition that there has been. We still have two more qualification events for the World Championships in San Francisco but the Holt RYA National Ranking Series has set the precedent that we intend to follow.'
In the Tornado fleet Hugh STYLES was back in the Tornado and sailing with Graham VIALS, better known for helming a 470. The Sydney Olympian convincingly won the first day with two bullets. However with lighter winds and a stronger tide on Sunday, a costly mistake lost the pair the only race of the day, as Styles explains;
'Leading at the bottom mark we unfortunately took the kite down too early and the tide soon swept us onto the mark. A 360 turn in the Tornado is not fast especially in those light winds and subsequently we dropped into third. Nevertheless it is still an encouraging start to the campaign with two firsts and a great event to sail at.'
Despite the mistake Styles and Vials still won the weekend, with Andrew WALSH and Edward BARNEY in second winning the Holt prizes and the Holt RYA National Ranking Series 2004. John READY and Chris FIELD finished in third, three points behind.
In the Finn class a record 28 boats were on the start line and with only three races completed, consistency was crucial. Chris BRITTLE scored a second, fifth and first which was enough to see him win the event by six points. Ed WRIGHT, who has stood on the podium at every ranking regatta since he began sailing a Finn, continued with his record by finishing second. Jim HUNT from South Staffs, not normally seen sailing a Finn, sailed an excellent three races to finish third and win the Holt prize for first non-lottery funded sailor. A fifth for Matt HOWARD at Warsash means that he drops from leading the series into third whilst Brittle is promoted to first overall and Wright finishes in second.
With five races completed in the 49er class competitors were able to discard their worst result. This made no odds to David EVENS and Rick PEACOCK, who discarded a fifth but then featured in the top three in the other four races. Roger GILBERT and Sam LITTLEJOHN also had a similar scorecard but had to count a seventh place. In third place were Thomas SMEDLEY and Philip KENNARD. A win for Evans and Peacock at Warsash also clarifies their position as Holt RYA National Ranking Series winners for 2004.
Looking back over the past year, Barrie EDGINGTON said, 'There has been an excellent turnout to the regattas especially after the Olympics in Athens and which is really encouraging as we enter the next Olympic cycle building towards Beijing in 2008. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the sailing clubs and volunteers involved for making it a successful year as well as Holt for their sponsorship and wish all the competitors a productive winters training and hope to see them all out in force in 2005.'
1, Hugh Styles/Graham Vials, Downs Sailing Club, (1,1,3) 5 pts
2, Andrew Walsh/Ed Barney, RYA, (2,3,1) 6 pts
3, John Ready/Chris Field, Brightlingsea SC, (5,2,2) 9 pts
1, Lizzie Vickers, HISC, (1,2,1) 4 pts
2, Hannah Blore, Gresford SC, (2,7,2) 11 pts
3, Collette Blair, Bewl Valley SC, (3,4,5) 12 pts
1, Chris Brittle, Roundhill SC, (2,5,1) 8 pts
2, Ed Wright, (1,9,4) 14 pts
3, Jim Hunt, South Staffs, (3,2,9) 14 pts
1, Nic Asher/Elliot Willis, WOBYC, (3,1,4) 8 pts
2, Christina Bassadone/Saskia Clark, RTYC (2,7,3) 12 pts
3, Paul Brotherton/Ian Calder, Glossop & District SC (4,6,2) 12 pts
1 David Evans/RickPeacock, Corus SC, (1,(5),2,3,1) 7 pts
2 Roger Gilbert/Sam Littlejohn, Stokes Bay, (9,(7),1,1,2) 11 pts
3 Tom Smedley/Philip Kennard, HISC, (2,4,4,(8),3) 13 pts