2021 Arrow Trophy J80 Regatta

On a bright and sunny Sunday morning a formidable OM team of Mike Orange (PR 1986-91), Andrew Knatchbull (B1 1983-88), Ed Gregg (C2 1988-93) and Phil French (SU 1989-94) arrived at Queen Mary Reservoir to do battle in the ATYRA fleet racing. Superbly organised by the Royal Thames Yacht Club, there were a total of eight teams, all sailing in identical J80’s.

Conditions were forecast to be testing with a solid 10–15 knots of wind and irregular gusts filtering down the course. With a long day ahead of six races, we knew that to be successful consistency was going to be the watch word.

The crew got a cracking start to the first race. On the line at speed and with no one around us, the race was ours to lose. Then we heard a second gun, someone was over the line, was it us? We were not 100% certain but turned back just in case only to see up the course that two crew from another boat had fallen overboard and had not even made it! Cursing our moment of indecision, we regrouped and hauled our way back up from last to finish 4th.

The 2nd and 3rd race were hard fought between Marlborough and Tonbridge with the lead switching a number of times. Both races we were on the unfortunate receiving end of a wrong wind shift and so two 2nds were achieved. This left us lying in 2nd overall and as a team working very well, a podium or even the win a possibility…..

Then the wheels starting coming off. Maybe it was the McDonalds (breakfast of champions) wearing off or a slight over confidence but from race four onwards we started running out of steam.

A 4th was followed by 6th in the 5th race. The rest of the fleet had defiantly woken up and we were being targeted by our competition. Going into the last race we were 4th in the standing, only three points behind 2nd place. Now was the time to be aggressive and aggressive we were. Too aggressive it transpired. Called over the line at the start we had to go back, but by the time we had done so, the fleet was too far ahead and we ended up chaperoning the rest of the fleet round the course as last boat.

We still had a smile on our faces, undamped by the fact there was no bar to drown our sorrows. We later learnt a discard had come into play and we ended up 4th overall.

Thank you to the OMSA committee for organising, the support of the OM Club and the Royal Thames for delivering a fantastic regatta. The team of Mike, Ed, Andrew and Philip tried to do the school proud and we look forward to the main event in October.

Phil French
Ed Gregg