West Sussex pair nick BT sailing title

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West Sussex sailors were to the fore as 11 identical new F40 yachts competed in the four-race BT Challenge regatta in the Solent.

Monday brought 20 knots of breeze which tested the Beneteau fleet early and after comfortably winning the first race, Chichester’s Ashley Hatton (helm) and Johan Verster (navigator) from Bosham had a shocking first leg in the second race of day one, rounding the windward mark towards the back of the fleet but fighting back to third place by the finish.

Day two brought light to medium winds in glorious Solent sunshine and was shaping up to be a battle between Hatton, a member of Itchenor Sailing Club and, with Verster, a Chichester Yacht Club member, and overnight leader Andy Hill, who had a one-point advantage.

The two battled it out in the first race with Hill coming out on top, closely followed by Hatton. In a three-race one-discard regatta only an outright win by Hatton in the final race could bring a regatta victory.

This was a pressure situation for Hatton and Hill ramped up the pressure with a well-executed tactical attack on Hatton which first forced him to sail away from the start line and then pushed both yachts over the line before the start gun.

Hatton made a good recovery and a tacking duel followed with Hill leading. Hatton clawed his way back in front of Hill only to find another yacht rounding the penultimate mark in front of him. Hatton managed to overtake the other yacht on the last leg to win the regatta by the narrowest possible margin. Ian Luddington (skipper) collected the trophy on behalf of the team of nine.