Cornish edges ever closer to Olympic berth

PUBLISHED: 10:14 08 September 2011

Alex Horlock in action

Alex Horlock in action

fotoboat/Mike Rice

Sailing attention last week focussed again on the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), host venue for the 2012 Olympic sailing competition, writes Mike Rice.

This time, it was the turn of the Comet Trios and Lasers to hold their national championships on the 2012 Olympic field of play.

The Trios held their championships over the bank holiday weekend. The event attracted 22 entries, all but six of them from Exe SC, where the Devon designed and built Comet Trio is the biggest single dinghy fleet. Winners and 2011 national champions by a significant margin were Andrew and Caroline McAusland. Former commodore Symon Garratt, crewed by Nick Groucutt, won the battle for second place, ahead of the first non-Exe SC boat, sailed by Richard Sallis and Jane Higgins, of Cotswold SC. The next four places were taken by Exe boats, with only 9 point separating them. In fourth place were John Best and Martyn Lewis, in their best-ever championships performance, followed by Guy Farrant/Marilynn Booker, Mike Sydenham/Colin Broady and Bob and Collette Horlock.

It was a generally windy event, with gust in the mid-twenties (knots) on the Saturday. All the races were held in Portland Harbour.

As the Trios were making their way home, the next event was getting under way. The Laser national championships were attended by two young Exe SC sailors: Alex Horlock takes up the story: “Last week the Laser standard National Championships were held at next year’s Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth , Dorset. Exe SC had two competitors, Ben Cornish (19) and Alex Horlock (18) competing in the men’s Olympic single handed class, arguably one of the most competitive in the country.

Both sailors sailed an excellent regatta in the variable conditions of Weymouth bay. Horlock broke a mast on the Monday, but as it happened after racing, he was able to replace it overnight and continue to compete in the regatta with no races lost to kit failure. Cornish posted some top results throughout the week and at one point lay second British boat before slipping to 6th in the difficult shifty conditions. Horlock finished the regatta 11th British boat, together putting Exe sailing club on the map as the top Laser club in the UK. This result leaves Cornish with only 8 boats between him and Olympic selection and Horlock with 13 to go before 2016, where both will be vying to compete in Rio.

Both sailors will now be looking forward towards the national ranking events where they will hope to put in similar results, to gain selection for the RYA Youth National Squad over the winter.”

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