If you were blessed enough to pick your ideal ingredients for a class championships you would surely start with one of the very best sailing venues in the country in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour. You would also want (but of course this is just fantasy) the support of the leading brands in their category in Volvo cars, Noble Marine, Harken and RS – a massive thank you. If you had a direct line to the big guy upstairs you would order 4 days of winds between 8 and 15 knots to give everybody, whether hobbit or hulk a fair crack. On top of all that it would be rude to expect outstanding organisation from the host club, so let’s be rude. Line up Hugh Shone and Hannah Tattersall to lead the show, Richard Woof to run the racing and amazing behind the scenes backup from the members and volunteers and it would be about perfect, and let’s not forget homemade cake. Be proud Castle Cove Sailing Club!
At the beginning of the event the forecast for day 3 and 4 was a little shaky, and with that in mind the race team added an extra race to the program on day 2 just in case. As it happened the third day was a perfect 3 race day in the bay and so we had only one race to complete the full race programme on the last day. First and second overall had been sown up the previous day, so overall winner Jerry Wales and runner up Neil Ashby took the opportunity to pack their boats away in the rain rather than wait for the glorious sunshine an hour later. The final race ought to have been a formality for the stand-out performer of the previous day. Huw Reynolds looked to have the race under control but the thought of winning two races in his first Nationals was too much for the Welshman so he applied the hand brake, trawling his spinnaker at the end of the second lap allowing Ian Swann to assume the lead and dropping Reynolds to third. Ian Swann in the lead would normally be the prelude to some serious entertainment and all those on shore lined the balcony to wait for the inevitable. It was to the disappointment of the watching crowd (not that he might win) that Swann held on to secure the win. Reynolds had sailed himself back onto contention but a capsize on the final leg allowed Adam Golding through to second with a damp Reynolds in third.
For most, this year’s Nationals was about as good as it gets if sailing is what floats your boat (OK a little bit more sun and less rain would have helped but with such awesome cake who cares). The racing in the RS700 fleet was as it is always, competitive and fun, not aggressive and confrontational. Race victories were recorded by one of the lightest (Huw Reynolds weighing in at 70 plus kilos) and by one of the heaviest (class Chair Richard Wadsworth weighing in at a 100 plus kilos) showing how versatile the weight equalised RS700 is. Race wins were also recorded by Simon Letten (luck) and the legend that is Ian Swann.
The remaining races were won by veteran Jerry Wales, finishing with a net 10 points to record his third nationals win (a jerryhattrick) and winning a voucher for lunch at the local old peoples’ home. Joining him for lunch and winning the Masters trophy was Hamish Griffiths.
A clear second overall was Neil Ashby. Now dividing his time between the RS700 and the Musto Skiff, we may see a smaller version of Neil next year if he wants to be all-round competitive in the Musto.
Best first nationals prize (Apprentice Trophy) went to Huw Reynolds who showed outstanding pace when he kept it upright, which unfortunately was not that often.
Plonker of the week was a close one (or perhaps not) nominated were, Richard Wadsworth for sailing an extra lap when all those around him, in front and behind sailed to the finish, and Simon Letten for redefining overstanding. The stand out winner (no surprise here) was James (call me Paul) Bayliss. It dawned on him at the last second what everybody else knew minutes earlier that his attempt at a port tack flyer at the pin end was doomed to failure and the crash tack ended with his tiller extension caught between his head and his sunglasses and an inevitable capsize. To most it would have been obvious to take the sunglasses off and then slide the glasses off the extension, but not for James (call me Paul) Bayliss. He proceeded to slide his head with sunglasses in position off the tiller extension. He is still alive so it must have worked!
A final thanks to Simon and Richard from RS for providing support to both the RS700 and the RS800 and to Clare Sargent from the RS Class Association, great job.
Next year’s Nationals are at Hayling Island on the 25th to the 28th August 2016. I will see you there if they let me out of the home.
The new RS700 Chair Richard Wadsworth has just set up your very own RS700 Facebook Group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1485113635132398/
Image: Seb Godsmark / sbgfilms.net