This year’s RS Sprints held at Rutland SC on 21 -22 April were the proverbial game of two halves; the gods smiled down, giving us sun, snakes and ladders on Saturday and some champagne sailing on Sunday.
In the final analysis, although racing in the RS100 fleet is always hotly contested within its dizzying array of talents,ultimately it came down to a battle royal between three: the youthful prodigy Robert, hard trained, superfit, man in his prime (Steve) and the aging, cunning pond-sailor (Clive). If you subscribe to that sort of thing, there’s also a North-South-Cornish (respectively) frission there too somewhere.
The sprints format adds an extra challenge, with no discard it rewards consistency and not dropping a clanger. At the end of the day you cannot win at the start, but can certainly lose it there. The genius innovation of “everybody around the ends” in the case of a general recall also seems to induce good start-line behaviour.
Conditions on Saturday were particularly interesting; with streaks of pressure and the wind varying by as much to 60 degrees, it was not a numbers game. Boat-speed was not necessarily a benefit either; if you went the wrong way, it would then be a lot further to come back. You could go from hero to zero in no time at all, always a bitter pill to swallow; so not a day to crack under pressure, but one to bring your A-game.
Sure enough, for Clive Eplett, Christmas came early, it was pondie heaven, although he still managed to let Steve Lee and Robert Richardson mug him at the close of race 3, having led all the way around. This gave him a score of 2,1,3,1. The real-deal that is Robert posted a 1,4,2,2 making it tight at the top, with Steve third on 16 points.
But what a difference a day makes. Sunday morning and the wind was up. Hope filled the air; would this be a game-changer? If history is any guide, we would be in for more close racing and a new lease on life for the usual suspects in particular. Some of them had been giving themselves a good talking to, it transpired, as all that came to pass.
But performance of the day was Robert, who engaged warp drive at times (winning race 8 by a country-mile), scoring a day-winning 20 points. Why does he keep saying he’s not heavy enough? Greg Booth bounced back from his nightmare Saturday with 22, including two bullets. Steve had the same score, Huw Powell chalked-up 24 and Clive 25. That reversal earned Robert the chocolates (he’s not even old enough for a bottle of wine), was enough for Clive to hold second and Steve to retain third, Huw climbed to fourth,with Greg zooming up the leaderboard to fifth and pipping David Smart on countback. For Mark Harrison, it just wasn’t meant to be. Stop tittering at the back.
Thanks go to Rutland for again providing a brilliant but difficult-to-run event like clockwork, even calling a halt at just the right time when the wind was fading to zilch on Saturday.
The next RS100 event is POSH (Paignton Open Single-Handers) on 12 and 13 May. Strongly recommended to all RS100 sailors, we hope to see you there. Entry is on the club website here.
Early season report card
If results were based on aggregating race times, would have won by a landslide after a horizon-job victory in race 8 and second to Clive when both broke away in race 4. Deserved winner, the worry is that he’s only going to get bigger, stronger and better.
Had no excuses on Saturday when conditions, as Frensham Pond-like as you could get on Rutland Water, played into his hands. Went with his trade-marked get-worse-on-day-2 but found a nice compression zone on the second run in the final two races to get back past Steven overall.
Used-only-once under-cover for sale.
Famous for turning up with a boat covered in road-filth and then beating everyone, the newly-polished boat and UC, tales of lost weight and even greater fitness were all a bit concerning. But a couple of un-characteristic mid-fleet results were ultimately damaging this time, even though he won more races (3) than anyone else. Will rise again.
Suffered in the light, but a much better Sunday; ultimately, class will out. Needs to read the instructions for attaching ti-lite blocks to the boom though.
Horrible scores on Saturday, but pulled his finger out on Sunday with two bullets to pip his daemon Smartie on countback. But is that really enough Greg? OK, apparently it is. Objective observers would suggest needs to improve on light-weather performances.
Defied expectations and failed to find an excuse for not turning up. Which was nice. No, really. Showed flashes of inspiration (or was it just luck) with two second places on Sunday, but needs to work on consistency both within races and over the series if he is to beat Greg (nothing else matters between these two).
Only highlight of a weekend to forget was leading the fleet off the line on the first race on Sunday. But we can all do that from a boat length over the line when the gun goes. Boasts he’s lost lots of weight, then brags of eating 6 choc-bars in a day. Maybe a second career in fad-diet books?
The wily fox had a good Saturday with 3 results in the top 4. Needs to look out for 2000s; rolling in to windward avoiding one was entertaining for the rest of us but not necessarily quick.
Got better as his first RS100 event progressed. Showed signs he can become a proper nuisance in future, with a strong finish to the weekend.
Consistently thereabouts with two good results on Saturday and won the Datchet club mates’ bragging honours over Simon.
Somehow capsized 4 times on Saturday when it was light but not at all on Sunday. Mixing it at the front on Sunday when the wind came up, fast upwind, less down the run it seemed.
Needs to focus more on the time function of his watch and less on the calorie-usage counter, then he might not miss the start. Also needs to get wife Pippa to check he has rigged his kite properly.
Would benefit from reading the Sailing Instructions. Leading for the first lap of the first race, then forgetting the course is never ideal. We weren’t joshing you Simon when we called out – we really were trying to help and get you to go to the correct next mark!
By Clive Eplett
Photos thanks to Peter Fothergill of