132 entries took part in the UK Southern Circuit. Together with 82 sailors taking part in the Northern Circuit this gave 149 sailors in total taking part in the UK Circuit events. Many sailors competed in both series with the final two events situated in the Midlands included on both Circuits bringing the National fleet together at the end of the season. Additionally, other major UK RS Aero events outside these series, like the Winter Champs, Spring Champs, River Champs and Chew open, each had over 20 RS Aeros.
RS Aero 9
The series kicked off with a light wind Nationals which swelled the RS Aero 9 fleet to a record 26 boat entry creating a ‘9’ fleet momentum bolstering numbers through the year by those looking to secure a series. This commitment to the big rig produced some good turnouts at Chelmarsh (16), Lymington (9) and Burghfield (9). Outside this series lightish breezes produced great ‘9’ fleets at both the Avon SC UK River Champs (18) and Chew Open (15).
A broken foot prevented Matt Thursfield (Chelmarsh) from defending his 2nd overall going into the final event at Rutland. However, no matter – 30kn winds and freezing temperatures left the chasing pack of Chris Larr (Northampton), Anthony ‘Chunky’ York (Northampton), Gareth Griffiths (Island Barn) and Team Rolfe Jnr & Snr (Burghfield) downsizing to 7s for the benefit of a more enjoyable weekend’s sailing in the more attainable and larger ‘7’ fleet.
RS Aero 7
89 sailors took part in one of the 6 events in an RS Aero 7 and the series remained wide open to the very end.
David Ellis (Lymington Town) smashed out a win in the 34 boat UK ‘7’ Nationals. Next up, top Laser Radial campaigner Chloe Martin banged out a decisive victory at the UK Southerns in Lymington, defeating Alex ‘ the race face’ Hayman in the process. At this stage, the fairer sex was looking very prominent with Gurnard’s Jane Peckham leading the series with her solid 6th and 3rd. Consistence and participation is vital over a long series and a hard fought 8th on a grey day at Burghfield was enough for Lymington’s Karl Thorne to lead going into the final events. But you can never rest and whilst Karlos was focusing on his home racing Peter Craggs (York RI), Andy Hill (Hayling), Jack Hardie (Frensham) and David Cherrill (Broadwater) were steadily building their series ready for a final showdown.
Going into the season closer, the RS Classes End of Seasons at Rutland, no less than 11 sailors were able to secure the annual ‘7’ title and rip the golden egg away form Karl at the final hurdle. Billed as the ‘Grande Finale’, Rutland delivered in spades. In a fitting end to the UK Summer season 30kn gusts and bitter temperatures tested the metal of all competitors, they were going to have to really want to win this one in order to pull it off. Overnight, after 3 races, both Peter Craggs and Andy Hill were all but tied with absentee leader Karl Thorne for the coveted title – all that stood in their way was the small matter of a two hour Pursuit Race tour of Rutland in 30kn gusts, hail, sleet, freezing temperatures and about 70 often out of control zig-zagging asymmetries!!! The stage was set for a worthy winner – or had Karlos already done enough to sit in front of his fire with dry feet, slippers and hot chocolate?
Sunday dawned and it actually looked quite lovely. There had been a slight drop in wind and not a cloud in the sky. The RS Aero 7s set off after the RS Aero 5’s who had a 4 minute head start in the 2 hour race. After an hour it all started to turn nasty with gusts to blow you backwards back down the beat! These gusts could certainly be described as ‘solid’ by virtue of the hail chunks within! This was all too much for the south coasters to bare and Andy Hill returned to the sanctuary of the clubhouse. Peter Craggs had to finish to make Karlos choke on his marshmallows – and that he did! In an emphatic case of last man standing Peter stuck the course to finish the epic Pursuit. Together with his counters from the Saturday and good results from Brightlingsea and Chelmarsh Peter Craggs took the RS Aero 7 UK Southern Circuit title – all the way back home to York! Andy pipped Karl to second on a tie break – you have to be in it to win it!
RS Aero 5
A two way battle played out through the season for the 5 rig title with entries reduced at several events due to light breezes – it could all have been different if the wind had blown and 7 rig sailors would have been grateful for the option as was at the case at Rutland with fifteen 5 rigs entered.
Archie Hainsworth (Alton Water) grafted out a lead with Cathy Bartram (Chew) making a comeback when a slip in Archie’s concentration left him stuck on the committee boat in the tide at Brightlingsea. Archie held this nerve and despite some early navigational issues at Chelmarsh had great speed to take the 2016 RS Aero 5 title. One to watch out for when he moves up to a RS Aero 7 next season!
Des Seal of www.dessealtv.com produced this brilliant drone movie capturing the pleasant day at Round 5, the Chelmarsh Inlands, nicely with a bird’s eye view of the racing in Chelmarsh’s lovely surrounds;
RS Aero 9
- 1st – Peter Barton, Lymington Town SC
- 2nd – Matt Thusfield, Chelmarsh SC
- 3rd – Nigel Rolfe, Burgfield SC
- 1st Master – Peter Chaplin, Burghfield SC
RS Aero 7
- 1st – Peter Craggs, York Railway Institute SC
- 2nd – Andy Hill, Hayling Island SC
- 3rd – Karl Thorne, Lymington Town SC
RS Aero 5
- 1st & 1st Youth – Archie Hainsworth, Alton Water SC
- 2nd & 1st Lady – Cathy Bartram, Chew Valley SC
Next up in the UK is the start of the Winter Training on 19/20th November at Oxford and 3/4th December at Hayling – charter RS Aeros are available. The RS Aero Winter Series kicks of on 27th December at Yorkshire Dales SC’s Brass Monkey. Full details of UK events can be found on the UK Events Page; http://www.rsaerosailing.org/index.asp?p=events&rg=UK
*Note – At Brightlingsea and Rutland the RS Aeros raced together on PY. As per the Notice of Series, Class results are taken out from each race to produce overall class results to apply to the Southern Circuit results. This facilitated one start and one fleet at events when appropriate, whilst still achieving a class race within that.