Following six months of online racing and over 9,000 sailors battling it out for a place in the final, 16 of the UK’s very best eSailors took to the virtual waters on Saturday 19 September to compete for the title of GBR eSailing National Champion 2020.
After five closely-fought races it was Alasdair Ireland, sailing under the sail name of Speedy_1, from the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club, representing Scotland, who raced his way to victory and the championship title.
The final consisted of five races, with two discards. In each race the competitors sailed in a different class of boat, to really test their skills. Live commentary was provided by Olympic silver medallist and British Sailing Team 49er sailor, Stuart Bithell, and RYA Regional Development Officer, Susie Moore.
“It will be really interesting to see how everyone goes in the different style of boats and with the two discards we may see some pretty aggressive sailing”, commented Bithell ahead of the first race.
Race one was in the J70 and it was Hugh Brayshaw (Hugh Brayshaw) who got the best start. Ireland also got a great start at the top end of the line and went on to dominate the race, coming through the winning gate some 46m ahead of the rest of the fleet, who were jostling for places right up to the finish line.
Technical issues delayed the start of race two in the 49er, but it wasn’t long before Virtual Regatta had fixed the issue and the racers were back on the start line. “Speed is going to be key in this race”, commented Bithell. “You need to be a good tactician in the boat”, added Moore.
It was another great start for Ireland, with lots of speed and tacking across the fleet putting him once again at the front of the fleet. One of our two female racers, Megan Pascoe (Megan Pascoe), also had a great start putting her up in second place on the first leg. With really patchy, light winds with big gusts, the sailors were all searching out the breeze.
The downwind leg saw a jybing match between Pascoe and Mike O’Donovan (Déjà vu), then out of nowhere Brayshaw came flying through the fleet in to third place. At the final mark, Brayshaw had moved to first place and maintained his lead to take the win in race two.
Moving on to the Nacra, the foiling boats would allow for really fast speeds downwind. Paul McCombie (Bell Rock) took the lead off the start, with Ireland down in 8th. With fast racing and quick decisions, racers were taking on penalties across the fleet. However, despite not winning off the line it was O’Donovan who took the lead early in the race and didn’t look back to take the win in race three.
Race four and we swap the Nacra for the Laser. “Laser racing is always extremely close, getting the best start can make all the difference; it’s likely to be a very tactical race”, commented Bithell.
Off the start, two boats were OCS and penalties were picked up across the fleet, however it was Adam McGovern (AdamGP14) who found himself taking the lead. Current regatta leader O’Donovan was down in 9th place heading in to the first mark, but with some great sailing on the downwind leg found himself back in the mix up in 4th. Racing was really tight at the front of the pack and coming in to the last mark O’Donovan had raced his way back to 2nd. In the end it was Douglas Newell (TP52GLAD) who took the win, with O’Donovan in 2nd and Donnie Gillies (Donnie Gillies, formerly Maradonnie), 2019 GBR eSailing National Champion, coming in 3rd.
Heading in to the final race in the Star, Brayshaw, who was in the running for a place on the winner’s podium, commented: “Virtual racing is brutal, you can go from first to last and last to first in an instant. The last race is going to be very exciting, I hope I can keep my cool.”
The race started with very light winds and Ireland was back in the lead pulling away from the fleet once again at the leeward mark. A penalty for O’Donovan was good news for his nearest rivals.
With it all coming down to the wire on the last run, it was Ireland who not only clinched the final win of the regatta but also the title of National Champion.
Commenting on his win, Ireland, who also won the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship in June, said: ““Winning the British eSailing National Championships is a great feeling especially when you are racing against such tough competition. I’m thrilled to be able to bring the trophy to Scotland and look forward in representing the British Team in the upcoming Nations Cup.”
Third-placed Brayshaw added: “The adrenaline was definitely pumping like starting any race of a national championships, you know any mistake is going to be punishing with so many skilled skippers. I’m pretty surprised I got away with some good races to manage a third and even be in with a shot of winning. Overall it was some fun racing against the best in the UK and was an excellent unique opportunity to be a part of.”
Watch the final in full below:
As well as claiming the title of GBR eSailing National Champion, Alasdair wins a Musto LPX Jacket courtesy of Musto, plus a dryrobe and Musto cap from the RYA.
|2||Mike O’Donovan||Déjà vu|
|3||Hugh Brayshaw||Hugh Brayshaw|
|6||Donnie Gillies||Donnie Gillies|
|9||Phil Manning||Phil Manning|
|10||Paul McCrombie||Bell Rock|
|12||Megan Pascoe||Megan Pascoe|
|13||Jonathan Fish||Fish Face|
|16||Toby Bloomfield||Toby Bloomfield|