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Cat expert Farthing faces cream of crop

PUBLISHED: 13:43 31 May 2002 | UPDATED: 12:01 03 March 2010

SAILING: Suffolk hosts the Dart 18 British Catamaran Open National Championships for the first time tomorrow.

The competition at the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club (FFSC) lasts until Tuesday and Suffolk's hopes could rest on Simon Farthing who has been sailing for ten years and competing for the last seven.

SAILING

SUFFOLK hosts the Dart 18 British Catamaran Open National Championships for the first time tomorrow.

The competition at the Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club (FFSC) lasts until Tuesday and Suffolk's hopes could rest on Simon Farthing who has been sailing for ten years and competing for the last seven.

"I got into catamaran racing through my wife Cathrin and her family," said Farthing. "My father- in-law, Stuart Snell, is a former national champion and Cathrin is a former ladies national champion. I'm still learning and the standard is getting better and every time I race I learn something new. I have competed in the world championships in South Africa in 1999/2000 and every event is a new challenge."

Farthing, from Stowmarket, is entering the Dart 18 championships for the first time as a helm although having crewed for many top sailors over the years.

The helm is the person who steers and generally controls the boat and is normally the person to decide the tactics.

In the Dart 18 class the boat design has to be the same so the emphasis is on the skill of the sailor.

He said: "One of the main attractions for me is that it is one-on-one competition. To do well you have to be a good sailor and it is not simply a case of who has the biggest chequebook available. Dart racing is catamaran sailing at its best with speeds of up to 35mph."

It is the first time the event has been staged in East Anglia and Farthing says the area is lucky to be holding such a prestigious competition.

He said: "Dart is an amazing spectacle and it is a privilege for East Anglia to be hosting this premier sporting event which will see some of the world's best cat sailors taking part. It is an excellent opportunity for this area to have this competition on its back door and I'd be pleased with a top half to third placing."

Farthing has recently moved up into this class of racing after previously competing at the Dart 15 category.

Dart 18 is regarded as the faster and bigger of the two and the main difference is that two people are required in Dart 18 while the Dart 15 is sailed single handedly.

Dart 18 competitions are harder to win as the Dart 15 is based in the United Kingdom while the former sees fleets from many other countries entering.

Farthing said: "There will be entrants from around the world, with at least ten from France and others from Holland, Belgium and Germany.

"This competition attracts all the best Dart sailors and there could be four or five past champions as well as the reigning European champions. With the level of competition at the highest it's been, this is possibly going to be one of the toughest championships in the sport."

Farthing also teaches people how to sail after gaining a Royal Yachting Association qualification and he describes sailing as a growing sport.

He said: "It is good to see youngsters being brought in and enjoying it. Sailing was the most successful British sport at the Sydney Olympics and with grants from the lottery then it bodes well for the future of sailing."

The event will feature two races a day for the four days with the first race starting at 12.30pm on Saturday and the final race is on Tuesday afternoon. At the end of the event the sailor with the least points will become national champion 2002. A race win scores the least points, then second place and so on, but if all eight races are sailed then only the best six results will count.

Last year's Open Nationals attracted over 120 entries and it is described as "one of the biggest events hosted by FSSC for a number of years".


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