UK National Champion Jamie Lea reports from Torquay! The 2003 Melges 24 National Championships took place in Torquay from the 5th - 8th June and were hosted by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club. With a turnout of 25 boats there was a nice manageable number for the race team to look after, once again being headed by Martin Wells Brown as the P.R.O. Martin and his team seem to get better every time we race at Torquay and this Championship underlined what a professional operation they run with 12 races being expertly run with no problems whatsoever.

Conditions over the 4 days were perfect with most races being run in a South Westerly breeze ranging from 8 - 20 mph. The last day proved to be the windiest with the breeze further round in the west at about 20 mph which gave ideal conditions for the finale to this years Championship. Racing as ever in the M24 was very close with the overall title going down to the wire between Richard Thompson' s Black Seal team and Stuart Simpson' s Team Barbarians. Black Seal held a 1 point advantage going into the last day, but with 2 races scheduled that could have been easily overturned. After a humdinger of a days racing Black Seal emerged as champions after posting a 1,2 in the final 2 races, team Barbarians scoring 2,3 could not do enough and finished 2nd overall 3 points behind. A similar battle was taking place for 3 and 4 th place overall between Nigel Grogan' s team and Richard Stenhouse and his team in the new Devoti boat. Richard had been posting some excellent results throughout the week especially as this was his first outing in a M24, 4 race wins tells its own story but in the end they had to settle for 4th overall after a fairly average last day from their point of view. Nigel Grogan and his team seemed to revel in the windier conditions and posted a 3,4 to finish the event on a high and pull up to 3rd overall.

The Corinthian prize was won by Simon Henning's White Rabbit team in another extremely close finish from Paul Lovejoy' s The Muts Nuts and Keith Musto in Mustgo. 3 points is all that separated these 3 boats and it is this close racing amongst the whole fleet, not just the top end that makes M24 racing so enjoyable and exciting plus the fact that it is also the Worlds premier racing keelboat.

After racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nigel Young once again ran a North sails de-brief where top performers from the days racing were invited onto a panel to talk to the fleet about how they achieved their days results, with some gentle encouragement from Nigel! This proved to be a real success as it is always good to share with a fleet the little differences that some people do to make their boat go that little bit faster.

So after 4 hard but very enjoyable days racing, Black Seal became the new Melges 24 National Champions after 2 years of finishing as runners up. A special thank you must go to The Royal Torbay Yacht Club for hosting and running this Championship and in particular Adrian Peach, we look forward to going back next year once again to defend our title.