A Spring of gentle breezes and too much inland sailing had wrought havoc on this correspondent’s well being; to understand what it is to sail an RS300 in downwind in the light wind requires a working knowledge of pilates, parkour acrobatics and fully honed “shoot dance” skills.
The forecast in the run up to the Summer championships was filled with light Northerly gradient winds so the sense of foreboding was evident in the dinghy park, not eased during the briefing when the race officer indicated squeezing in a full 4 races on the opening day to make sure we made the most of what was forecast over the weekend.
Launching into Poole harbour’s clear azure waters (how does that happen around the UK? ) started to relieve the tension as we all gently hiked our way across the this beautiful setting to the maelstrom near the chain ferry. I certainly had no idea you could have waves coming over the bow while simultaneously coming in the stern!
Being released out into the open water had us searching for our committee boat and off we all set on a fantastic hiking reach, one almost worthy of the entry fee alone. Sadly it wasn’t our committee boat, doh!, so we set off yet further downwind towards Bournemouth pier, this extra hitch would come to haunt us all at the end of the day’s racing when legs were tired.
The first two races were held in good breeze with eager helms hiking hard to make the most of any competitive edge. The downwind had little let up, where there were lots of gains to be had if you could surf the waves well. Dave Acres showing he’s lost no speed since the last event on the South coast, posted two bullets, with Paul Watson and Harry McVicar fighting for the other podium positions.
With the wind starting to ease between races 2 and 3, the race officer shortened the course to 2 laps, something those eager helms were now grateful for, as for the most part we realised we weren’t as fit as we should be. Dave starting to show an alarming consistency led again until the approach to the final leeward gate when he must have decided he was over heating so stopped for a cooling dip, leaving Paul, Mark Cooper and Harry to close out the podium spots.
The wind had realised at this point the error of its ways and piped up again for the 4th race, encouraging the race officer to send us round another for 3 laps.
With tired legs the fleet got away and it soon became apparent that Dave and Paul’s superior perching was getting them away from the fleet. Mark being heavier than Harry had the upwind edge and had to work hard to keep a rampaging Harry behind downwind. Ben Green, who’d been rapid all day downwind with his new sail managed to split the two upwind on one lap before a moment of indecision and target fixation saw him sailing under the windward mark.
A long and arduous sail in, kept entertaining by the RS600 fleet tea-bagging themselves as we approached the harbour entrance meant that once we hit the beach the other course had cleared the boat wash and changing rooms. Kudus goes out to the club for a cold beer in response to handing our tally back in.
On to the evening’s activities in the fabulous new Parkstone Yacht Club, where much beer and banter flowed easing the aches and pains of possibly the best day’s sailing this season.
Sunday dawned as promised with a thick fog inside the sailors’ heads and more wind in the accommodation that out in the sailing area. After waiting for a few hours for the breeze to fill in the wise decision to cap the weekend while Saturday’s memories were still fresh and send us home early was made.
Special mentions go out to Ben and John attending their first RS300 open, first of many we hope; “should’ve gone to Specsavers” award goes out to Gary for not noticing everyone else sailing through the start / finish line on each lap.
It struck me on the way home that we need to sail more on the sea (take note event secretary) and why do I live so far from it! Most importantly though, with the RS Games but a short time away I can’t wait now to get back there enjoying this amazing little boat with I hope lots of others.
Report by Mark Cooper