World champions do battle in 2009 Foxer Intergalactic Championships

Proudly supported by Marlin R.I.B.s, Musto, Ullman Sails and Wilsons of Kinver

The weekend of 6th-7th June was an incredibly competitive one for the 2009 Foxer Championships, known affectionately as the Intergalactic Championships, with testing conditions from both ends of the Beaufort scale.

The single-handed Foxer dinghy (pictured), designed as a tender but adopted for river racing in Hamble, is now a magnet for top sailors wanting to take on reigning champion Ian Southworth, and enjoy the famous after-race socials.

The 31 helms awoke on Saturday to find strong easterly breezes to challenge their boat handling skills, keeping the boat underneath its sail being the main tactic and challenge for many.

First blood in race one went to relative newcomer to the fleet, Shaun Barber (multiple B14 World Champion) in a closely fought race with Tom Bernstein (a German 470 sailor and in his first ever Foxer race) coming second. The final podium spot in that race was taken by Simon Russell (double Etchells World Champion). The fleet were eager to get off the start line in subsequent races and the black flag rule came in to play for many of the remaining races on this first day.

Some newcomers to the fleet for the weekend’s racing found their egos take a good denting as they rapidly found themselves capsized and at the mercy of the infamous Hamble River Flip-Flop Monster. It has become a rite of passage to capsize a Foxer and much joyful banter was aimed at most of the accomplished big boat sailors as they took their turn to dampen their pride!

Amongst those to lose their Foxer virginity on day one was Tim Spalding (a highly regarded knee surgeon who also advises on medical matters to the Volvo Ocean Race), owner and helm of Love shack, a Bénéteau 40.7 that has had plenty of success in the Solent over the past 5 years or so. As the remainder of the fleet sailed past, ‘Doctor Splash’ was seen to have an infectious smile on his face, maybe knowing that the same fate was to befall a number of more experienced Foxer sailors as the day went on.

By around 13:30 the scheduled 6 races had been completed and the fleet retired to the clubhouse of the Hamble River Sailing Club for ‘fizz & chips’ and to tell tales of their experiences of the racing. Those who had been in for a swim dried themselves off and took the opportunity to wear their new Musto polo shirts and enjoy the ample supply of champagne and home cooked fish & chips (from our ‘Foxer Vixens’) which had been generously supplied by Ullman Sails.

Sunday dawned bright and with lighter winds from the south. Four two-lap windward leeward races were closely fought with clear air and the ability to change gear being imperative in these quirky boats as the wind fluctuated from under 5 knots to a few 17 knot gusts.

The consistency of Ian Southworth’s 8 first place finishes allowed him to drop an 8th and 2nd from his score to win the championship from recent addition to the Hamble fleet, Shaun Barber and Tony Kilby in 3rd.

The Ladies Trophy was won by a ‘vixen’ in her first Foxer outing, Practical Boat Owner’s editor Sarah Norbury.

The prize giving was held along with a barbeque with a range of fantastic prizes for competitors donated by all the sponsors. There were even some light-hearted prizes to contend for such as Musto towels for certain spectacular capsizes and Musto knee pads for some tired, aching sailors.

1st – Ian Southworth 8 points
2nd – Shaun Barber 27 points
3rd – Tony Kilby 28 points
4th – Chris Hamel 33 points
5th – Martin Cowell 48 points
6th – Tom Bernstein 51 points
7th – Simon Russell 54 points
8th – Tim Spalding 64 points
9th – Steve Hinton-Lever 69 points
10th – Darren Baker 72 points