We love short snappy races in the 100 fleet, it really keeps everyone on their toes. For day 1, with a big chunk of south in the breeze, OOD Barry Harding took us nearly back to England, where the order of the day was seven 2-lap, 20 minute races with a strong tide under us up the beat and a gorgeous, marginal planning run back.
Without even recourse to the nasty-flags, we were such a well behaved bunch of starters that there was not even one general recall all day. Or perhaps we were just paranoid at the thought of fighting the 2+ knot tide to return if caught over.
The strong tide made it interesting at the windward mark too. If you approached on port and tacked on the mark, or over-stood on a starboard approach, boats behind would sail into the resulting 30-foot gap and several boats would go past in a swoosh of tide. Ouch.
Once round, there was a spin-a-coin choice. In the gusts or a starboard header, you could get the bow down, using the stronger tide to create some extra apparent wind, lap-up the tidal windward-bow and drive fast and low for a big gain. But much of the time, the tide was under the leeward bow and simply pushed you higher and higher, for a big loss on those further inshore, in less tidal flow. Tricky.
This partly accounts for the rather topsy-turvy scores for some. 2015 Nat Champ Brett Aarons was the master of the day opening with a 1,1,3 before a recall left him 10th in the next. Then in the fifth he pipped Clive Eplett taking another race-win by a bowsprit tip, which would later prove expensive for your correspondent.
Greg Booth was going great guns too, but did he twig the downwind tide-thing? Converting good positions to a 12 and a 10 in contrast to 2 firsts and a second made us wonder.
Current champ Al Dickson forgot to round the leeward mark in race 5 which kyboshed his day/weekend, otherwise, after winning race 6, he’d have been joint second overnight on 21 points with the consistently sneaky Clive Eplett.
Steve (why-am-I so-slow-downwind-today?) Lee finally got going and took the last race of the day going in tied 3rd on 25, with Huw Powell and Mark Harrison on 30 and Al on 31, Giles Peckham on 32. Tight all around. With more wind forecast for Sunday to go with the hangovers induced by Giles hospitality and a cracking fleet meal, could the heavy-weights make a comeback?
Off to Thorness Bay on the Island shore for Sunday, it was indeed significantly windier, right up Huw Powell’s street, although even he managed to fall in and take race 1 winner Brett with him in race 3. Mark Harrison made the most of that demolition derby for the win. Also in that race, Jeremy Gilbert fell in keeping clear of Brett to leeward, giving Luke Goble (in his first open; he’s going to be a pest before too long) nowhere to go except in as well, followed by Clive and Giles, who as a result gained a 10 compared to a well-sailed bullet in race 2. Ouch.
Race 4, the last of the day, then featured Huw trying to finish a lap early, recovering and still winning and a massive rain squall tipping in Clive and Greg just after a kite-drop.
Summing up, it was the usual great racing throughout, with seven different race winners across the 11 races. After a discard from each day, Brett won comfortably on 24, Huw recovered to second thanks to a Sunday 2,2,1 for 35, Greg and Clive on 37 with Greg third on count-back. Oh that lost point by a bowsprit-tip! Al and Steve tied on 40 and Mark on 41.
Across the season, the circuit winner was Steve Lee, with Mark Harrison second and Greg Booth third, each taking home a tasty Magic Marine voucher.
Next season promises to be another cracker, with the keen-as-mustard Netley SC team hoovering-up every boat on the market. The RS100s are on the up, for sure.
Full season results here