Brothers James and Ben Hutton-Penman competed in the RS Aero World Championship during the RS Games that took place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. 205 Aero sailors took part from all over the world and across three different sail sizes; Ben competing in the smallest sail, the 5, and his brother James in the medium sail, the 7.
It was a full on World Championship with all but the final day being sailed out in Weymouth Bay in varying conditions, the first two days lighter and then the wind really picked up. 20 knots was the norm from day three and on the final day the wind was constantly blowing 25+ knots and the Committee boat recorded a gust of 37 knots. Sailors can make the choice up until the night before the first race which rig they use, the smaller 5 rig seeing numbers boosted by sailors deciding the wind forecast would favour the smaller rig.
James sails the Aero 7 on a Super Saturday but gone are his days of constantly competing given he has to work for a living, he was certainly far from being “match fit”. Notwithstanding this, James sailed very well, qualified in Gold fleet and finished a very creditable 23rd in the fleet of 103 7 rigs, James really suffering in the three heavy wind days because he is under weight for the boat.
Ben had never sailed the Aero before and has not sailed singlehanded much since his Oppie days and yet seemed to make the transition quite well and found himself leading the 65 boat Aero 5 fleet after day one. Whilst others collected the first positions throughout the regatta, Ben remained consistent and for the most part in the top five. He scored his first and only bullet on day 4 and yet he had never been out of the top two on the overnight leader board and led by 3 points going into the final day. The final day, sailed in huge breeze, saw him race conservatively and finish third, but most importantly ahead of the two boats placed closest behind him. Interestingly the lady who finished second overall was a Member of the Estonian Sailing team and third was one of those who dropped down from the larger rig.
What made it even better was that Ben was first Junior by 20 places and also won an award for heroism for pulling an exhausted lady competitor onto his smaller rigged boat and allowing her to sail it in whilst he righted her larger rigged boat and then escorting her safely in, all this after having sailed three exhausting races in the bay.
Ben is now a double world champion having won the RS Feva World Championship earlier in the year.