Aaron Evans and a reflection on 2018

After three years of sailing – first year doing open coaching, the second year in the RYA Zone Squad and the third in the RYA Junior Squad – it all came together in 2018. I had a good run in the London & South East Region Topper Travellers, securing the overall winner.  The series started in March and ran through to the end of October.  The series is spread between fifteen events hosted by various clubs in the region. In the National Series, consisting of six-weekend events across the UK, I won the final event, placing me second overall in the national series.

In July I attended the National Schools Sailing Association (NSSA) regatta hosted by Datchet Water. This was a week-long event where clubs and area representatives get together for a week of sailing and fun. I was a member of the Queen Mary Sailing Club team. I came first in the Topper event and as we had a strong Topper fleet overall, we also won the team prize!

In August I went to China for the Topper Worlds. Unfortunately, the wind was against us. We either had too much or none at all. However, It was great to compete against other nations and although we did not complete a series I was placed third overall. After the event, I had a great experience as we visited various places with my family and friends which included the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army.

In September I managed to talk my parents into letting me enter the Isle of Sheppey round the island race, which is part of the Allen Endurance Series. The race is a forty-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Sheppey. It took me four hours and forty-six minutes to complete the course, which for me was a long time in a Topper. I came 15th overall and won the junior helm prize together with the first placed slow handicap boat. Hopefully, I will attend in 2019 but not in a Topper!

I have now transitioned into the Laser and sail both the 4.7 & Radial depending on the wind conditions. I have learnt a lot from the two UKLA training sessions which I’ve attended as well as the two local Laser Radial events I won this Autumn.

2019 is an important year as I have my GCSE’s in May & June. I will be going to Weymouth to compete in the Youth Nationals at Easter and again in July for the NSSA.


Dragons feature new Allen fitout

UK performance sailing hardware manufacturer, Allen Brothers, has been working with world-class boat builders and International Dragon Class experts, Petticrows, to deliver an 8-boat project that aims to promote international racing.

The 8-boat project is for 8th Dimension Sailing, an idea put together by Pedro Andrade. Pedro hopes to offer sailors the chance to sail a fully equipped and race tuned Petticrows V6 Dragon in various locations around Europe, without all the usual logistical nightmares included. 8th Dimension Sailing will provide a VIP service for all charters and will ensure the boats are race ready for any event.  To ensure a race winning and reliable boat can be delivered to each event, Pedro – the 2017 European Dragon Champion – chose to fit each of his boats with Allen Brother’s range of hardware.

When asked about his choice of equipment Pedro said “Having a project of 8 boats for charter and to organize events is a lot of work, and for us to have the most reliable equipment is a priority. We have chosen Petticrows for the long experience they have in the class, which will give us the confidence that equipment failures are close to none.

Our choice to change to Allen fittings is for the same reason. What I have seen from their fittings is a robust reliable hardware that combines performance and weight control. We cannot afford breakage on our boats, but we also want the best equipment, and we are confident that Allen Brothers can provide us with what we are looking for.”

Allen Brothers have been working with Petticrows for over 10 years. Manufacturing a range of bespoke items specifically for the Petticrows Dragon. Tim Tavinor, Managing Director of Petticrows, commented “It is great to be able to work with a local company that has a dynamic design and production team producing high-quality fittings which complement our Dragons. Building the new fully Allen fitted 8th Dimension Dragon fleet has provided an innovative solution for Dragon sailors to enjoy racing without the associated logistical problems.”

Some of the bespoke items that Allen Brothers manufacture for the International Dragon include; a universal gooseneck fitting, through deck adjustable shroud assembly and rudder shaft. Pedro’s fleet of Dragons will also feature some of Allen Brothers flagship blocks, such as; XHL blocks – an extremely high loading aluminium block – and the newly released 60mm X2 AutoRatchet.

The International Dragon Class has no restrictions on the supplier of the mast and boom. As with many classes, this typically means a mast supplied by one manufacturer will only fit a boom of the same supplier. Petticrows, also manufacturer their own mast and boom, wanted customers to have the freedom to be able to switch between different brands as well as the style of boom. To allow for this customisation Petticrows asked the Allen design team to create a universal gooseneck. The result, a gooseneck that can fit the more popular Dragon boom profiles, as well as a fixed gooseneck boom and a rotating gooseneck boom.

Darren Elwell, Allen Brothers Design Manager, commented on some of the bespoke work they have undertaken “The International Dragon class rules require the shrouds to be mounted onto chain plates below the deck. However, fore and aft movement is permitted. Working with Petticrows, we produced an elegant, flush mounted solution that provides precise and repeatable adjustment of the fore and aft position of the shrouds as they pass through the deck. This ingenious design allows for a wide range of rig set up. Allowing the sailor to get the most from their boat.”

Allen Brothers are also responsible for a number of custom hardware products that can’t be seen on a finished boat, for example, the rudder shaft. As with the shroud assembly, the International Dragon class has rules limiting the design flexibility in the rudder shaft. Using their extensive knowledge and experience of materials and, most importantly, staying within the class rules, Allen was able to produce a consistent precision shaft and bearing system that was not only lighter than previous products but got feedback from top sailors who claimed they could notice the reduction in friction.

Allen Brothers manufacture from their headquarters in Essex, UK. The company has a 60-year heritage and a reputation for innovation by incorporating feedback and development from its sponsored sailors into its products. For more about Allen and to see the full range of hardware head over to www.allenbrothers.co.uk

Megan Pascoe’s 2018 year in review

As the season closed in Antwerp last weekend it gave me a chance to look back at what an incredible year it has been in the 2.4mR.

I’ve had some amazing tight finishes to events this year with the Nationals in Poole, Frensham open, Dutch Nationals and the German Nationals all coming down to the wire. It was great to attend the UK Nationals, after so many years of missing it for one reason or another, and having it as part of the Poole Keelboat regatta is always a lot of fun. As was competing in Carrickfergus at the Irish Nationals. A great piece of water with the Irish hospitality that we all come to expect and love. Fortunately, I took the win at all 5!

The one that didn’t go down to the wire was the Worlds in Sweden. I was never sure how this one was going to go as I hadn’t been on open water in a big competition for a long time. Racing in Gavle in the past has been a bit hit or miss over my sailing carer, however, I love going back to big race courses and 75-minute races. The start of the event was great, scoring all top 5 results. the second half of the event, however, didn’t go to plan with my worst results coming in the last 2 races. Overall I was very happy finishing 2nd and a long way from third but there’s more work to go in order to get back to the top spot next year in Genoa.

Probably the biggest test this year was at the German Championships in Berlin. 48 boats entered into what turned out to be a very shifty and mostly light venue. We started with an exhibition knock out race which challenged me because I kept forgetting how to match race but it was a lot of fun. The real racing was even more challenging with a very high scoring regatta. Especially Saturday where the water was packed with every leisure craft and river cruise boats going. Most deciding that coming right through the middle of the course was a good idea. I was leading going into Sunday but a few mistakes made throughout the day meant I had to settle for second. Happy on reflection that in the light and shifty that I had managed to score well and consistent for most of the regatta.

Finally, we end in Antwerp, as always, on the Galgenweel. Antwerp is a great little city, with a lot of history, and is a nice place to hang out for a long weekend with friends celebrating the end of the season. Sailing as always on a small lake was tight and Ulli Libor and Dirk Jan Broertjes were going fast. In a long series of 13 races, it seems a long time to keep concentration over the 4 days. Saturday was fully wacky racing with more fluky conditions however, i performed well and managed to win for the 7th year in a row. Coming away with 7 from 7 makes a great culmination to my year.

It’s now back to work for the busy Christmas rush and a nice bit of casual club racing!


Ben Hutton-Penman’s 2018 Summer Review

My year got off to a fantastic start… by winning the RS Feva World Championships in Florida. You can read about it here https://www.allenbrothers.co.uk/2018/04/18/ben-hutton-penman-wins-world-championships/

My next event was to be the 29er class National Championships at Hayling Island competing against 80 other boats.  The 29er is the boat which I am now moving in to. I had only sailed the boat a couple of times before the start of the regatta and only met my crew the week before.  The 29er is a difficult boat to sail, especially given it was a windy week, and yet I qualified into the Gold fleet and just missed out on a top 20 finish having been inside the top 20 until the final day when the wind dropped.

I then moved to Weymouth for the RS Games where I competed in three events, the first in the single-handed RS Aero class.  I had not sailed an Aero before, nor had I sailed a single hander since my Oppie days,  so the two hours on the water the day before the event with my brother James tuning the boat was very useful.   There were 210 competitors sailing three different sized rigs, I had decided to sail the smaller 5 rig given my age and weight.  In very testing conditions, I won the RS Aero 5 World Championship and I was also first Youth and Junior sailor, I won the family prize for best-combined placings with my brother James and an award for most sportsmanship conduct for helping an exhausted fellow competitor.

After the Aero Worlds it was then straight into RS Feva European championship against 120 boats. This was my final event in the RS Feva with my crew Abi Jayasekara.  Lying in 2nd place by one point after the qualification rounds, I was a little less consistent than I usually am and signed off my RS Feva career in fourth place, joint points with third.  I would loved to have won but it was not to be.

My final event of the RS Games was in the RS 200 where I teamed up with my new 29er crew Nathan Clark from Burnham and took part in the Nationals which is an adult class, made up of excellent sailors including GBR Olympic pathway sailors.  I was the youngest helm and got us up to 21st place in the 120 boat fleet at one point before tiredness got the better of me and I learnt a very important lesson, that you can sail too much! We finished in the top half of the fleet which I was pleased with.

I have now started the Winter training programme in the 29er with Nathan. I think 2019 will be a more difficult year for us as we transition into this powerful boat that will test our skill, strength and fitness.  Nathan is relatively new to sailing having sailed for less than two years in total and the crew is very important in the 29er, so we both have a lot to learn about each other, the boat and sailing skills in general.  Our aim for next year is to consistently be in the top half of the fleet.

I was invited to sail at the Endeavour Cup in Burnham in October as I was invited for winning the RS Aero 5 Worlds.  Obviously, I needed a crew and thought it would be nice to sail with my brother James as he sails the Aero also.  This is a very prestigious event where all the UK National Champions of all the different dinghy classes are invited to sail against each other in one class of boat. Many of the sailors are almost professional and the invitees included current and past Olympians.  The practice day on Friday gave James and I some time to sail together in very strong winds.  We finished 12th overall in the 30 strong fleet, top youth boat and got two top 10 finishes which I was pleased with.

I have recently been nominated in the 2018 British Yachting Awards as Youth Sailor of the Year.   My nomination has come from my two World Championship wins this year, one in the RS Feva in Florida and one in the RS Aero 5 in Weymouth.

I am putting my winter training on hold until the New Year now as I have an opportunity to crew in The ARC, sailing 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to St Lucia.  It will be a great experience for me and will give me a good insight into the world of offshore sailing.

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