Overall – Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club – 28-31st August
The RS Aero UK Nationals was the Class’ first event in a racing deprived 2020 and over 100 RS Aero sailors were ready for it with many more disappointed to not be able to join the championship this year.
Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club is not a large club but they had mobilised a small army of enthusiastic volunteers, passionate to support racing activity and create a wonderfully welcoming environment to their guests in difficult circumstances. An incredible amount of thought and planning had gone in to the creation of a socially distanced and hygienic environment from which a 100+ RS Aero championship was able to take place. No stone was left unturned in their efforts with detailed risk assessments, split meal & launch groupings, face coverings, regular sanitisation, portaloos cleaned after every visit, one way systems, generously proportioned boat berths, an online notice board, pre recorded briefing and a ‘hands off’ tally system!
Over the 4 days Eastbourne’s open water venue provided a variety of racing conditions to suit everyone at some point. Strong & light breezes, wonderful Eastbourne waves and flat water, both clear cross-shore winds and a challenging off-shore breeze too. There were opportunities for all weight ranges, coastal wave specialists and inland shift sniffers too!
With a stiff breeze forecast from the outset the small RS Aero 9 fleet opted to join the RS Aero 7s which made two good near equal fleets of 57 and 47 competitors, much to the race officers pleasure. The RS Aero 9 fleet is set to make its comeback whenever conditions suit.
RS Aero 5s
Good consistency across the varied conditions saw Mike Wood (RAF & Draycote) take the series with a race to spare. Past RS Aero 5 World Champion Andrew Frost (Sutton Bingham) took 2nd just ahead of Top Youth, Leo Wilkinson (Maidenhead & Datchet) in 3rd. Rounding out the top 6 were the upcoming David Peaty (Draycote) in 4th and Worlds Silver Medallist David Ellis (Lymington Town) in 5th and Harrison Pye (Draycote) finishing strongly for 6th.
RS Aero 7s
Sam Whaley (Swanage) asserted an early dominance in the RS Aero 7s whilst the breeze was up, rarely challenged for speed. A few safe counters in the trickier conditions enabled a safe closing out of his series. Steady improvement saw Peter Barton (Lymington Town) win Day 3 in the shifty offshore breeze to claim 2nd overall with a race win. A titanic tussle for 3rd ended with Tim Hire (Lymington Town & Royal) retaining his 3rd from the 2019 champs and Top Youth with some safe discards to rely on. Dominic Hall (Hayling) did one better than his 5th in last year’s Europeans to take 4th. Noah Rees (Lymington Town & Torpoint) grafted out a steady series for 5th. Greg Bartlett (Starcross) held 6th, showing incredible pace in the stronger breezes after many hours out training in the most ridiculous of conditions!
This year saw an interesting boost in the Youth category with a whopping 34 under 19s in total, proportionally a large increase. Following previous feedback the Masters category was decided over only the first two races each day, allowing an early finish if they were not also gunning for the overall result. Round Britain dinghy adventurer, Neil Peters (Pevensey) took the RS Aero 7 masters title and Tim Rush (Notts County) took to RS Aero 5s. Top Lady in the RS Aero 5s was Caitie Atkin (Whitstable) and Ellie Craig (Draycote) took the RS Aero 7s.
The Top Family title is decided with two family members combined results, with the Hall brothers of Hayling pipping the Pye brothers of Draycote (after they discarded Daddy Pye!). The large turnout of Lymington Town SC took the Top Club award (top 3 members to count), just ahead of the strong Draycote team.
Eastbourne Sovereign SC have the advantage of plentiful outdoor space and shore side activity managed to include the annual Class AGM and customary daily prize givings with Top Tips from the day’s leaders, all held outside one fleet at a time to enable social distancing on RS’ famous pink carpet. For what was always set to be an ‘outdoorsey’ championship we were graced by some lovely sunshine, confirming Eastbourne’s reputation as the UKs sunniest town according to the Met, increasing everyone’s Vitamin D count before the autumn sets in!
A huge thank you to all our supporters in a difficult year, Rooster, Selden Mast, Noble Marine, Harken, RS Sailing and Eastbourne Borough Council, assisting with the creation of an excellent event and helping provide a generous spread of gifts and awards. Class Juror, David Battye, was afloat helping keep the fleet honest and racing high quality, assisted by David Tydeman who generously provided his rib and expertise. Most of all, thank you to Eastbourne Sovereign SC members for making our championships possible!
Next up for the UK RS Aero Class are events at Lymington, Burton (Derby) and Salcombe in September before the Inland & Masters champs ant Draycote in October. Keep in touch with RS Aero events and activity via the RS Aero Class Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/rsaeroclass/ and the Class Website https://www.rsaerosailing.org/