There was a clear North-South divide as 35 Squibs hit the start line for the Squib Gold Cup hosted by Royal Corinthian Yacht Club. In the tactically challenging water this divide was North shore or South of the River Crouch to beat into the mild easterly breeze complemented by an early summer sea breeze.
Pin-end and North shore paid handsomely and top of that pack were locals Jono Brown and Chris Dunn Squiggle followed by visitors Stu Rix and Steve Warren-Smith Aquabat although the positions were to switch on the South shore beat of lap two leaving the South Coast boat ahead of Squiggle then Phil Aspinall and Howie Enkel Guy Fawkes in third.
The fleet settled for Race2 and all the main competitors went North for the first beat then Guy Fawkes opted to go North on the second lap lifting them from teens to second, separating Aquabat and Squiggle. Two races down and already many of the fancied boats were carrying 2 discards which became a real concern when race 3 was abandoned due to the windward mark seeking an early return the clubhouse for a cool beer.
The restart of race 3 brought with it a wind shift as the sea breeze used the sound of the starting gun to switch off. This massively favoured the pin end boats, even the stragglers who struggled to clear the pin. Once again Aquabat had secured clear air and led the race to record 3 bullets and a commanding position with Squiggle and Pani Munta (Mike Probert and James Bryer) the only other boats with top ten finishes in every race.
Day 2, race 4 and a turning tide played havoc with the starting process. Good behaviour was restored through the introduction of the U flag. When the fleet finally got away the tide had turned across the river and tactics returned to the North vs South decision or perhaps more importantly when to leave the north shore for the beat to the windward mark.
Pilots think in vectors better than the rest and so Aquabat (aka British Airways 13) with pilots on board judged it better than the locals to secure their fourth consecutive finish and a commanding lead. Local favourites were now starting to move to the fore as Spoof (Micky Wright and Alex Porteous) then Lady Penelope (Malcolm Hutchings and Paul Buckley) delivered the other podium positions ahead of Squiggle and Guy Fawkes.
Race 5 was won by Humphrey (Robert Coyle and Marc Rawinsky) after 3 boats fell foul of the U-flag and both Squiggle and Guy Fawkes left the North bank too early and to oblivion. Aquabat slipped to a lowly third.
Race 6 was sailed brilliantly by Artemis II (Phil and Chris Rust) in their first outing in a major squib event. Aquabat secured the regatta with second and Hussar (Martin Harrison and Tom Archer) the final podium place after Guy Fawkes went hard aground whilst in 2nd place throwing away any chance of a podium place in the regatta.
Pani Munta won race 7 from Spoof with Helmut Shoing (Nigel and Jack Grogan) in third securing only their second podium place in the regatta. Indeed such was the strength of the fleet no boat finished in the top ten in every race although consistency, as ever, was the key.
The top placings of the regatta were Aquabat, Squiggle and Pani Munta. The boat from the south victorious over those from further north. Silver fleet was won by Artemis II but the real winner was the Royal Corinthian which delivered a regatta filled with close competition and friendliness for all comers irrespective of their place in the fleet or their home club. All of which bodes well for the East Coast championships at the end of May when the fleet will be bigger and stronger yet the choice of North shore or South shore will be ever present.