Brize Britannia 2024

Back in May, seven sailors were welcomed to a very wet Oxford Sailing Club with a shifty breeze of 10-15 knots promising a tricky day’s racing. The first round of the 2024 RAFSA Super Series was the Brize Britannia hosted by RAF Brize Norton’s Sailing Club and Oxford Sailing Club. The format called for four handicap races, allowing sailors to compete in different classes, using the Great Lake Handicap system to calculate their adjusted time finding the event winner. This first round also doubled as the RAF Single Handed Championships, with defending champion Ben Hawkes returning in an RS Aero 9 hoping to defend his title.

Sailors braced themselves before heading out into torrential rain for race 1. With all sailor’s excitement obvious as they pushed the line seeing Hawkes being called back and his title defence immediately on the back foot. With Lossiemouth’s Alex Nikoloudakis aiming to take full advantage pressing on an opening a gap to the chasing pack at the first windward mark.  Hawkes didn’t panic and managed to sail through the fleet claiming first race victory by a margin on just 13 seconds on corrected time, with Brize Norton’s Johny McVey rounding off the podium. The heavens further opened forcing the race committee to send everyone a shore for safety.

The afternoon session meant three back-to-back races, meaning a long afternoon for sailors. Hawkes once again showed his pedigree dominating race 2, with Nikoloudakis settling for second and Brize Norton sailing club OC Russ Howarth showing his downwind ability in his RS Vareo taking third.

Race 3’s start provided a spectacle for those onlookers as Brize Norton pair of McVey and Howarth tangling on the start line leading to an entertaining scramble as Howarth tried to board McVeys Vareo by mistake. The rest of the pack took advantage of the commotion heading upwind. The Brize Norton pair of Alex Twigg and Georgia Glynn in the club 2000 were the big winners stealing a podium from Odiham’s Ed Peverell in his ILCA 7, as McVey just couldn’t come back into third position.

Final Race started with another squall heading down the course providing another challenge for the already tired sailors. Hawkes completed his dominating day with his fourth victory, with Nikoloudakis having to settle for the bridesmaid position with 4 second places on the day. And McVey edging out his Vareo rival Howarth for the final podium position.

Even after an up and down day McVey managed to hold on for third place, with Nikoloudakis in his ILCA 7 taking second. And a dominating day on the water meant RAF Marham’s Ben Hawkes not only defending his Brize Britannia crown, but also his RAF Single Handed Championship.