The final day of the 206 boat RS Aero Worlds dawned with the likelihood of 30kn gusts. Fortunately the final two races were scheduled within the relative shelter of Portland Harbour. The stage was set for a grande finale with the whole podium up for grabs in the RS Aero 5 fleet and the silver and bronze medals still wide open in the RS Aero 7 & 9s.
RS Aero 9 – by David Partridge GBR
It was a big day for the RS Aero 9 fleet not least because of the apprehension around the conditions. Jim Hood (aka Junior of RS) summed it up well. “it’s like the last day of your ski holiday and there is that huge Black run left to do – do you do it or not?”.
Those of us foolhardy enough were given great advice from Madhavan Thirumalia (USA) “stay safe, kids”. The reach down to the starting line caught out a few with Greg Bartlett, Flinlo and the Swedes all late. The pink flag was up first and the 9s given the chance to test the challenging chop at the leeward end of the harbour.
As a back marker I plugged along trying to make up for a lacklustre start. The fleet remained quite close until the first mark when bravery and skill in the downwind provided big gains for the winners.
Approaching the leward gate there was a lot of courtesy around which way to go, at those speeds avoiding a collision was paramount. I was forced to contemplate a quick Gybe as the boat under me headed for the left gate, I guess having no time to think about it made it easier!
The reach from the top mark will be remembered by all, a blitzing career through the upturned boats, RS Aero 7s battling upwind and froth and foam scudding off the waves. I, as many others, took a swim on the final bear away. The spray and roar from the flapping sails disorienting to the point of losing the final mark, but a reach or two revealed the final black mark, a round up and final wave bouncing reach to the finish – what a way to end a World Champs! We discussed afterward how everyone has memories of the bow slicing through feet of water and the focus needed to keep it up.
I am very much a club sailor, and would not normally venture out in winds like this in the big 9 rig but the event has been totally supportive. The camaraderie and support exemplified the Class, RS Sailing and visiting champ Marc Jacobi (who had sat the race out) helping all the RS Aero sailors back up the ramp at the end of a fantastic last day, which no one on the water will ever forget.
It was a big Black, a double diamond++. In fact it was better in every sense and choppy waves are softer than moguls and trees after all! The experience created a fantastic end point to a great week where I have learnt so much, met so many inspirational people and enjoyed the sheer exhilaration of RS Aero sailing. For the record, the instruments on the harbour wall recorded an average of 27 knots and gusts of 37 during our race slot. Thank goodness we didn’t have to beat back from the bay!
Marc Jacobi had already sealed the deal leaving the battle for the silver with both Peter Barton and George Cousins assured a medal. Spotting the start line flick port biased proved key and Barton took a 40m jump on the fleet from the gun. He defended and extended through the race for Silver with George and Liam Willis chasing home. The big rig was manageable whilst treated with respect and #TeamLymo were very pleased to have had the benefit of some big wind and waves training in the western Solent the weekend before
RS Aero 7 – Peter Barton, GBR
The wind continued to increase through the start procedure. Sam Whaley had the Gold already sown up but was not about to miss out on the fun as he let rip around the course. Steve Cockerill took 2nd which was enough to clinch Bronze on a tiebreak from Craig Williamson. Jack Hopkins of Delph SC came in 4th, enough to hold his Silver.
Noah Rees took 12th to retain his Youth World Title in the RS Aero 7s after a close battle all week with Pierce Seward. Juliane Barthel of Germany went one better than her silver from last year to convincingly clinch the Ladies RS Aero 7 title.
Peter Craggs of Yorkshire blitzed the RS Aero 7 Silver fleet race, propelling himself to the front of their Series from Ben Lyons and Dan Bird, both from Lymington in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
RS Aero 5 – by Peter Barton, GBR
By the time the RS Aero 5s got away the wind was properly cranking and with the podium wide open it was all to play for. Across the top reach the RS Aero fleet looked amazing, bouncing over the wave crests at an incredible speed. The pecking order looked moderately intact however once onto the run the fleet took a shuffle with several sailors taking a tumble in the tricky waves at the leeward end of the harbour. Ultimately Ben Hutton-Penman held off his closest competitors with a 3rd to add the RS Aero 5 World Championship (and the Youth and Junior titles!) to the RS Feva World Title he secured in Florida in April. Liina Kolk of Estonia was top lady in Silver overall and last year’s Champ in Carnac, Andrew Frost, took the Bonze.
With the breeze now gusting up to 37kn and the harbour strewn with white horses race officer Arky wisely called it a day with competitors returning to shore beaming having had an ample dose of conditions rarely raced in, let alone to conclude a World Championship!
With a whopping 206 RS Aeros (on only the RS Aero’s 4th birthday!) alongside 170 RS Teras the WPNSA coped admirably. Having 50 international visitors was fantastic and the championship was blessed with having a steadily increasing wind through the week, providing some variety and ultimately a final climax! Having over 200 RS Aeros on one race area required a detailed course to minimise traffic and retaine flexibility whilst our PRO Bob ‘Arky’ Wainwright stayed true to World Championship ideals without compromise, allowing any unsteady breeze to settle to ensure well orientated courses.
RS Sailing’s support was fantastic from charters, equipment and servicing, to the wonderful atmosphere created by the RS Chillout Zone and main stage. As ever Rooster provided their huge support of the RS Aero Class with competitors also benefitting from their shop on site with mega sales of sun hats early on in the event and then warm kit towards the end!
Many thanks to all the sponsors whose contribution helped make the event so enjoyable and for their assistance throughout the year; RS Sailing, Rooster, Harken, Noble Marine, Volvo Cars, Selden, Zest boat works, Techniblock and Yachts & Yachting.
The 3rd RS Aero World Championship ventures downunder, taking place from 17th-22nd December 2019 at Port Stephens, NSW, Australia – just 2 hours north of Sydney. A large charter fleet will be available. Put it in your diary now and plan a nice Christmas break in AUS afterwards!
RS Aero 9
1st Youth RS Aero 9 – Liam Willis GBR
1st Master RS Aero 9 – Jeff Davison GBR
1st Grand Master RS Aero 9 – Christer Bath SWE
Bronze – 3rd RS Aero 9 – George Cousins GBR
Silver – 2nd RS Aero 9 – Peter Barton GBR
Gold – 1st RS Aero 9 – Marc Jacobi USA
RS Aero 7
1st Lady RS Aero 7 – Juliane Barthel GER
1st Junior RS Aero 7 – Patrick Fulton GBR
1st Youth RS Aero 7 – Noah Rees GBR
1st Youth Lady RS Aero 7 – Caitlin Atkin GBR
1st Master RS Aero 7 – Stephen Cockerill GBR
1st Grand Master RS Aero 7 – Peter Stephinson AUS
1st in Silver Fleet – Peter Craggs GBR
Bronze – 3rd RS Aero 7 – Stephen Cockerill GBR
Silver – 2nd RS Aero 7 – Jack Hopkins GBR
Gold – 1st RS Aero 7 – Sam Whaley GBR
RS Aero 5
1st Lady RS Aero 5 – Liina Kolk EST
1st Junior RS Aero 5 – Ben Hutton-Penman GBR
1st Junior Lady RS Aero 5 – Caitlin Morley GBR
1st Youth RS Aero 5 – Ben Hutton-Penman GBR
1st Youth Lady RS Aero 5 – Caitlin Morley GBR
1st Master RS Aero 5 – Phillip McDonald GBR
1st Master Lady RS Aero 5 – Catherine Hemsley GBR
1st Grand Master RS Aero 5 – Maggie Dunn GBR
Bronze – 3rd RS Aero 5 – Andrew Frost GBR
Silver – 2nd RS Aero 5 – Liina Kolk EST
Gold – 1st RS Aero 5 – Ben Hutton-Penman GBR
RS Aero Family Champs
3rd – Richard & Tom Kennedy GBR
2nd – Stephen & Sarah Cockerill GBR
1st – Ben & James Hutton-Penman GBR
[Best two family combined scores at the end of Wednesday. No parents & siblings here, it is all bruvers and luvers!]
Best RS Aero Buddy – Ben Hutton-Penman GBR
[Swapping his RS Aero 5 with a tired RS Aero 7 sailor on a long windy beat home!]