It's that time of year again and here's my take on the runners and riders. I'm not going to pick anyone as a winner, so as not to jinx the poor soul...
Top Tier: Those that may actually win the event...
I think you'd have to be pretty silly to write off the HISC M2 fleet. Master Payne and Mr Lennon have been a regular feature at the top of the UK circuit for a while now and the fact that they sail together frequently means they're able to push themselves and keep on top of their game.
Jason Belben and Chris Rashley have been doing the same thing down at Stokes Bay, which gives them a good home advantage. Chris has worked exceptionally hard at getting up to speed this year and it's shown with two open wins (in some pretty wild conditions) to boot. They've been there or thereabouts when the Hayling lot have come out to play and either would be a good bet.
Second tier: Those that might take a race here and there.
Ben Paton recorded the best non-M2 race position at the worlds, sailing on the original Ninja foils. He's now got his new 2011 foils and will be a force to be reckoned with. Lack of a medium setting means he may crash and burn while lit up to 11.
Richie Lovering has been starting to mix things up with the front runners this season and should be well up there when the breeze is on.
Ricki Tagg practically invented crash and burn sailing and may suffer a similar fate to Paton, but when he's upright there is no denying he's very fast.
Jason Russell is another one who's been slowly creeping his way up the results. He's very fit and works hard on the racecourse.
And then there is me. I've pretty much written off this season after promising myself so much. Nowhere near the right amount of time on the water, combined with a tiny bit of bad luck, has meant my season has been a bit of a non starter. A couple of race wins here and there show a glimmer of hope - the boat is obviously fast and I'm fitter than I've been in a while... Fingers crossed!
The great thing about an event like this is that it's actually nothing to do with the racing for me. A chance to spend time with a bunch of friendly, like-minded individuals isn't one to be missed and I hope loads of you join me!