The inaugural event took place in the RYA's fleet of J80's at Queen Mary Sailing Club and a total of nine teams took part. This high standard Grade 3 match racing event attracted a European feel with six British teams, as well as an Italian, Danish and Russian team.
The format for the weekend was a round robin where everyone had the opportunity to sail against each other once, followed by a semi-final and a final which both consisted of best of three races. Boat speed was as critical as match racing skills on Saturday, with patchy light winds of about 5 knots. Ian BUDGEN, not as yet ranked in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings, showed good boat speed beating 31 ranked sailor Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and team. Following the close of Saturday's racing, Simon SHAW and Ian BUDGEN had both completed the round robin with five wins and three loses, and the Russian team, skippered by Andrew ARBUZOV, had only lost one race although still had another few races to complete first thing on Sunday.
The weather improved on Sunday with similar light winds of 5-10 knots, which were more even across the race course. The round robin was completed, with the most exciting racing in the final round. Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES, skipper of the JPMorgan Fleming sponsored Bear of Britain, beat Andrew ARBUZOV after inflicting a penalty on the Russian in the pre start. Despite this loss, the Russian was the winner of the round robin with six wins, securing his place in the semi-final. The other four places were hard fought, as at the end of the round robin, five teams had five race wins meaning a tie-break rule had to be applied to complete the three remaining teams that would go through to the round robin. This resulted in Mads EBLER (DEN), Simon SHAW (GBR) and Ian BUDGEN (GBR) joining Arbuzov in the semi-final.
It was an exciting afternoon with all racing being best of three and all went down to the wire in the semi-final. Arbuzov chose to sail against Budgen in the best of three race semi-finals, leaving Ebler against Shaw. The fifth and sixth place sail off was a battle between the British brothers Campbell-James.
The Russian lost the semi-final in the last 100 metres after incurring a penalty, as well as losing his damage deposit due to a collision earlier in the day, Shaw got the better of Ebler, which meant that Shaw and Budgen would go head-to-head in the final. Mark Campbell-James came out the winner in the battle of the brothers with numerous penalties being awarded, and the eventual finalists were Budgen and Shaw.
Only two races were needed for the final, again best of three, with Shaw and his crew victorious in the sail off. Ebler defeated Arbuzov in the sail off for third and fourth place.
Winning helm, Simon Shaw was very pleased to be going through: 'It's great to win this weekend as, when we arrived, we were very impressed with the standard of other teams. We sailed a very good regatta and were really happy to take the win. As a crew we're extremely pleased to be racing in this event as there has been a real shortage of high quality match racing events in UK, and hopefully with the help of sponsors like JPMorgan Fleming and the hard work of David Campbell-James, his team and the RYA, we can make this series a real success. We're all looking forward to the Final, and if the standard at this event is anything to go by, it will be a tough competition.'
In conjunction the RYA, The JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge began on 27 November 2004 and will continue through to the Final on 13 March 2005. The race weekends are being held at the Queen Mary Sailing Club, Sunbury. More than 250 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, Simon Shaw - Simon Fisher, Al Fraser, Jez Elliot
2, Ian Budgen, David Lenz, Toby Iles, Ian Moore
3, Mads Ebler, Frederick Sparvath, Niels Kinch, Chris Pedersen
The next JPMorgan Fleming Winter Challenge weekend takes place on 18th-19th December 2004. A list of all the dates and how to enter can be found on the RYA website at the address below