No one seemed too fussed about the long wait ashore on the opening day of the RS Eurocup. Having driven several hundred miles to be there and in the wake of the past two years where foreign events have been few and far between, most were simply happy to sit on the sea wall, catch up with friends and leave the stress of whether we’d go racing or not to someone else.
When asked at the briefing what the prospects of racing given the light conditions, the race committee simply shrugged their shoulders, a Gallic response based on experience and pragmatism as they pointed to the mill pond conditions out to sea.
But, while the committee boats and mark boats headed out into the course area, the wait for competitors was far longer than most had expected with the fleet eventually heading out to the race course at 1530hrs in a light 4-6 knot breeze.
The first race saw little change in the conditions as the 32 boats worked their way upwind on the first leg of a two lap race. But, while the breeze was fairly steady in direction and strength, the curve balls were delivered out of sight as the proliferation of weed, sitting just below the water’s surface clung randomly to centreboards and rudders.
Some were quick to realise what was happening and lifted their boards to clear the clumps from below, others struggled to figure out why their pace and pointing had taken a dive. For one crew, the obstacle was even bigger as they snagged a fishing net that was floating just below the surface.
But for those at the front that had cleared themselves of weed and avoided fishing tackle, Nick Craig and his son Adam (7487) were clearly enjoying the light conditions and took the first win with Ben and Roz McGrane (1309) taking second and Stewart and Sarah Robinson (1463) in third.
The second race of the day looked much like the first with a light 4-6 knot breeze hanging in across the course. And while most of the fleet got away cleanly, one team mistook two guns for three at the start and duly retuned to behind the line as they waited for the general recall process to play out. But as they watched the entire fleet continue up the first beat it became clear that there was no general recall – the only benefit of their mistake was that they now had clear air. As indeed had Kevin Podger and Heather Chipperfield (1439) who had pulled off the perfect start and opening beat to round the first mark in the lead.
When it came to the finish two laps later, Nick and Adam Craig ended up second to Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley (1528) who took the race two victory with Howard Farbrother and Louise Hoskins (1481) in third.
Further down the field there had been a big shake up with plenty of teams scoring single and double figure results in one day. Drawing too many conclusion from the first two races would be unwise, yet what was clear was that getting two races completed late in the day had provided a plentiful new supply of tales and tall stories for dinner after the initial batch of conversation and banter had been used up on the sea wall earlier in the day.
RS400 Salcombe Gin EuroCup – Day Two Saturday 4 June
For those that woke early, Saturday looked like being a sparkling day at the beach, albeit with light winds. But by breakfast at 8am, ahead of a 1100hrs start for day two, things had changed significantly - the fog had rolled in, the temperature had dropped and the breeze had built to several knots more than expected. On the face of it, anyone who had studied and memorised the forecast had wasted their time, Saturday was not panning out as planned – or so we thought.
As the fog refused to lift a postponement ashore allowed crews to spend another morning chatting, tweaking, fiddling and hypothesising.
With the weather forecast now apparently invalid, further evidence that things were unlikely to change quickly could be seen as the fleet of race committee vessels remained tied to their moorings with no one aboard. With this in mind, there seemed little point in getting changed.
And so, the hours rolled by until at 1530hrs we got the call and headed out to the race course for what was to be a tricky session that didn’t finish until almost 8pm.
Just two of the three planned races were run, the first in a light 4-6 knot Westerly breeze.
Keeping the boat moving through the awkward chop was the key to arriving at the top mark in good shape. But even if you had managed to keep your momentum, planning your approach through a weird localised tidal effect around the weather mark, while trying to make sense of the turbulent air spilling off the tightly packed group, shuffled the pack just as the first signs of a pecking order had been established.
Once through the banana skins and speed bumps of the top mark the downwind leg delivered some tactical challenges too as the breeze gradually veered, just as the forecast had suggested.
At the front of the fleet Ben and Roz McGrane (1309) were making the best calls and took the first win of the day. Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley (1528) were second and the new lightweight combo of Nick and 13 year old Adam Craig (7481) came in third.
The shifting conditions caused a delay for the second start as the race committee chased the breeze as it continued its clockwise march around the compass. By the time things had settled down and after a postponed/abandoned start, the breeze had built to the point where everyone was hooked into their toe straps for the second race of the day. And while this was a race that was now eating into the evening’s social programme, the novelty of being able to hike around the entire course was well received.
Once again it was the McGranes who led the way with Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin (1502) taking second, with Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley in third.
Report by Matt Sheahan (RS400 1435)
Up on Y&Y here
RS400 Salcombe Gin EuroCup – Day 3 Sunday 5 June
For crews who were carrying a surplus of righting moment, today was the day. And even for those less endowed, Sunday was a spectacular affair. You could tell this from the grinning faces of those coming ashore and the number of sailors still in their wet suits, beers in hand at the club bar. After two long days of light, fickle, shifty breezes and late finishes, this had been a very special day and everyone was keen to hear and tell stories, so getting changed could wait.
The forecast had always been for a steady breeze in the low to mid-teens from the West, driven by the momentary alignment of isobars offshore. What hadn’t been quite so clear was how much sun we would get and how much the heating of the land would affect the stability of the breeze. But as things played out the breeze was steady and the regular helping of sunshine simply added sparkle to a decent sized windward/leeward course that let everyone stretch their legs Garda style. When it came to the racing itself, it is perhaps a mark of just how competitive the RS400 fleet is that the big guns were having to fight hard to stay on top.
After pretty much dominating the first two days of racing, (but openly accepting that it had been tough on every occasion), Ben and Roz McGrane (1309) came out of the traps on fire once again taking the first win of the day. Hot on their heels Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley (1528) were second with Howard Farbrother and Louise Hosken (1481) in third.
Come the second race of the day the breeze had ramped up a few knots to around 13-16 knots and with a slightly bigger course the upwind legs suited the extra-medium crews. Meanwhile, the downwind sleigh rides got the thumbs up from all apart from the few that failed to keep the mast above the boat through the gybes. This was also the race that Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley had made it clear that they fancied the top slot by delivering a win. Behind them Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin (1502) took second with Ben and Roz McGrane in third.
The final race of the day saw the breeze drop back a notch or two to around 10-14 knots, but with the sun out and the windward mark even further upwind than before, this was a course for those who enjoyed a good old-fashioned hike.
Once again, Eames and Tilley delivered a bullet with the McGranes in second and Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin in third. The cumulative result puts Eames and Tilley and the McGranes on equal points (10) going into the final day. Stewart and Sarah Robertson (1463) are currently in third on 28 points with Nick and Adam Craig just one point behind.
On that subject, it has been interesting to see former national champion and general rock star Nick Craig’s progress in Carnac. Sailing with his 13 year old son Craig, an accomplished Optimist sailor, Nick has been exploring an even lower end of the righting moment range than he normally enjoys with the compact and super efficient Toby Lewis.
As the breeze increased towards the mid-teens it’s been impressive to see how the Craig duo have coped. But it has also been interesting to see how race preparation and sail wardrobes play a part in their performance. In Nick’s highly informative book ‘Helming to Win’ published by Fernhurst, he explains how careful preparation plays an important part of sailing at big championships. He writes, ‘Checklists can be useful at big events as it’s easy to forget something critical, (food is the most important thing). A checklist should include all the things you need, eg multitool, tape, spares, food, water etc.’
Unfortunately this list doesn’t appear to include sails, which is presumably why Nick discovered on arrival in Carnac that he hadn’t packed them. Fortunately, he has many friends in the RS400 fleet and was able to borrow an entire second set from the Farbrothers, (hence the sail number 7841), who are as you can imagine, delighted to see that their B-sails are still blisteringly quick.
So, whether you have righting moment aplenty or not and have ticked off all the items on your checklist it seems that friends are just as important when it comes to going quickly.
Report by Matt Sheahan (RS400 1435)
Up on Y&Y here
RS400 Salcombe Gin EuroCup – Day Four Monday 6 June
It’s not something you usually wish for but the rain simply couldn’t come quickly enough for the extra-medium sized teams in the fleet – it was our only hope of out-performing the lightweight whippets.
According to the forecast, day four was always going to be different from the previous three, largely sun-drenched affairs. Conditions for the final day of racing in Carnac suggested a light sub 10 knot breeze once again as a weak warm front worked its way in from the Atlantic and over the course area, bringing with it some light showers before a series of serious downpours thanks to the cold front that followed in the afternoon. But with showers there was the promise of some extra breeze, albeit with the kind of unpredictable shifts that come with rain.
The breeze kicked off for the first race with around 5-6 knots, easily enough to see a RS400 ghost along had it not been for the short chop that is so characteristic of Quiberon Bay. This made upwind progress hard work for all. Keeping the boat moving through the waves was the key, as was not throwing in too many boat stopping tacks along the way. But come the first windward mark rounding another factor had come into play as the drizzle started to fall, bringing with it enough of an increase in wind strength to plane downhill and double hike for the next upwind leg.….just.
But each time the rain stopped, so did the breeze, making it a day of looking for showers rather than shifts.
At the top of the leader board Ben and Roz McGrane (1309) and Chis Eames and Rachel Tilley (1528) were on even points adding plenty of extra pressure to the day, but it was the McGranes who took the upper hand with another win, their fourth, with Eames and Tilley taking third. But with just three points between the pair, the final result could still come down to the last race and as the fleet waited for the start it became clear that the final showdown was going to be anything but straightforward.
Despite several attempts to square up the course, by the time the start gun went the breeze that had been on a slow and steady march to the right all morning decided to do a hop skip and a jump to the left just before the start of the race. Fighting for the pin end of the line on starboard was suddenly pointless as the windward mark could be laid on port. Suddenly the game plan had changed and a clear lane upwind on port was all that mattered. As you might imagine, this shuffled the pack just seconds after the start. The problem was that the breeze was still very light and the chop was just as punishing but this didn’t stop the hot shots finding their way to the front of the pack once again. But there was hope in sight for others as an ominous dark cloud worked its way towards the fleet. For the chunky monkeys it couldn’t come quickly enough as the land behind disappeared from view thanks to the veil of rain, but what we could see was that there would be plenty of breeze ahead of this shower.
And there was.
The downwind leg might have been a one way street but compared with bobbing around it was a blast.
That’s probably not how the front runners saw the situation, but as it had turned out the results had been pretty much sorted as the start gun was fired.
Eames and Tilley were over the line at the start, the McGranes were in the clear and in the lead with a position that handed them the Carnac event overall win. Eames and Tilley were forced to take second.
Behind them Nick Craig and his son Adam had put in an impressive performance in both races to score a 2nd and a 3rd to secure third overall.
And as the winners collected their silverware, minds started turning to just when the deluge that had arrived on time would stop.
The RS400 fleet would like to give a massive thank you to YC Carnac for a superb EuroCup. Thank you also to our generous event sponsor Salcombe Gin.
Now we’re looking forward to our RS400 Celebration Regatta at the RS Games 29-31 July. Info here
Then it’s the RS400 Noble Marine Nationals at East Lothian YC 8-12 Aug. Info here
Report by Matt Sheahan (RS400 1435)
Up on Y&Y here
Salcombe Gin RS700 EuroCup at YC Carnac
The RS700 fleet met for the Jubilee weekend (3rd to 6th June) at Carnac Yacht Club for the 2022 Salcombe Gin EuroCup event.
Day One (3 June)
Day one started with a steady 6-8 knots from the North. Pete Purkiss demonstrated his light wind prowess by pulling out an early lead. Matt Carter collected a large clump of weed, stopped dead, allowing Roland Smith to ease through. Once Matt had sorted himself, he was able to recover second on the last downwind leg.
For race two the wind dropped to 4-6 knots. Pete again opened up a commanding lead. Matt had a nip and tuck tussle with Axel de Blay de Gaix, with Matt just getting the advantage at the line.
Day one finished with Pete in a commanding position ahead of Matt, but then with four sailors all sharing third place.
Day Two (4 June)
A forecast of light winds meant the Race Officers delayed racing until 3pm.
Race three was held in 6 – 8 knots. The pattern of day one was repeated with Pete pulling out a commanding lead with Matt besting Axel for second. A wind shift and gust shortly before the finish meant that the run to the line was very tight for spinnakers. Guy Boullenger tried to carry, closely followed by Roland. Guy failed and capsized just short of the line, forcing Roland into an emergency bear away which he also couldn’t survive. Another tussle emerged between John Lawson and Steve Carr when they both came around the final leeward mark and tried to carry their kite to the line. Neither managed it with John trying to flog his kite and Steve struggling to get his kite down. Steve eventually crossed the line a boat length ahead of John.
With time moving on the Race Officers were keen to get in a second race during the day. A shifting 6-8 knots breeze resulted in a reset of the start line and the RS700s starting directly into the RS800s approaching the leeward mark. Immediately after the start, the wind went round about 70 degrees allowing the windward mark to be made in one. Matt and Curtis Drew tacked away from the RS800s into clear air and Matt gained a significant lead. However at the end of the first lap, Matt thought the race had been abandoned and headed for the shore. With the wind direction holding steady and filling to 8-10 knots for the second lap, Matt’s departure left Roland to lead the fleet round the second lap and take his first RS700 event win.
Day Three (5 June)
After two days of light wind, Pete had a commanding position holding three bullets. However with a steady 12-16 knots all day, the advantage would swing towards the heavier sailors.
Four races were held with Matt Carter now able to show his stuff, taking all four races with Pete in second. Behind them Roland was able to gain some separation over the fleet. Curtis Drew demonstrated some sparkling speed occasionally let down by a few capsizes.
Report by Roland Smith
Up on Y&Y here
RS700 Salcombe Gin EuroCup at YC Carnac
Day Four (6 June 22)
After four light wind races and four with a stronger breeze, Roland’s 3rd place was fairly secure, but there was only one point separating Matt Carter’s first and Pete Purkiss’s second. The forecast suggested light winds in the morning, picking up into the afternoon accompanied by rain. With time pressure to get the racing complete and a lack of clarity about when the breeze would arrive, the Race Officer pushed ahead with the races in 4-6 knots of wind.
For race one Christophe Vellen read the conditions the best up the first beat, only just bested by Pete with his significant light wind speed. Matt rounded in 3rd but was unable to pass Christophe by the line. After discard changes, Matt and Pete were all square going into the last race. Whilst a 45 degree wind change required the whole course to be shifted, this did not produce more wind and the wind shifted back at the gun. This time it was Axel de Blay de Gaix sped out of the pack repeating his form of earlier in the weekend to best Matt at the top mark. However this time Matt was able to recover second by the line, but there was no stopping Pete. As if to mock Matt, the wind did finally arrive (13-15 knots) as the fleet was sailing back to the shore.
So congratulations to Pete Purkiss our RS700 EuroCup winner! Well done to second placed Matt Carter and third placed Roland Smith.
The RS700 fleet would like to give huge thanks to Carnac YC for hosting a super event. Thank you also to our generous event sponsor Salcombe Gin.
Now we’re looking forward to our Noble Marine RS700 Nationals and RS700 European Championship at the RS Games 28-31 July. Info here
Report by Roland Smith (RS700 1068)
Up on Y&Y here
Salcombe Gin RS800 2022 European Championship at Yacht Club de Carnac: 3-6 June 2022
Yacht Club de Carnac is always a favourite venue for the British RS800 sailors on tour with its sunny white sand beaches and warm sea. Many of the British contingent started their holidays with an atmospheric sunset cruise out of Portsmouth harbour, beers in hand for a late evening of convivial chat on deck, setting the tone for the days to come. This year it was great to see a record turnout of French sailors, making up almost half the fleet, and nearly a third of the RS800s had female helms.
The first day of the championship dawned warm and windless. There was a long but pleasant wait ashore punctuated by coffees and croissants, providing a great opportunity to catch up with friends in all the RS fleets missed over the last two years. Finally the sea breeze arrived late afternoon, 8-10 knots from the SouthWest, and we hastily scrambled for the slipway. On the race course the committee and competitors coped with big swings in the wind, but by the time we came ashore at 7pm there were no big surprises in the results with UK National champions Tom Morris and Guy Filmore tied on points with the 2015 European champions Phil Walker and John Mather, scoring a 1st and 2nd each in the two races. The yacht club laid on a welcome spread of wine and nibbles for the sailors, kindly postponing it by a couple of hours because of the late evening racing.
Day two was almost a rinse and repeat in similarly light, sunny conditions. The race committee once again kept the fleets ashore until they were confident that the sea breeze had stabilised, so there was only time for two of the three scheduled races. This was perhaps a good thing for the eventual race winners who had gone large on night one, resulting in at least one of them allegedly wandering the streets of Carnac looking for their AirBnB at 3am. Waiting in the dinghy park, we were entertained by a seemingly endless parade of 850 very jolly vintage and classic cars, vans and motorbikes, including a van shaped like a beer barrel, driving along the seafront and all hooting their horns and cheering.
Out on the race course, Tom and Guy gained a two-point advantage over Phil and John thanks in part to the latter dropping the mainsheet at the last windward mark in race three to hand Tom and Guy a crucial win. Hugh Shone and Fiona Hampshire sailed brilliantly to win race four, chased by Team GBR pro sailors Steph Orton and Alex Hughes.
Saturday evening was the traditional RS800 Crews Union dinner, an opportunity for the crews to share hints and tips on how to cope with the trials and tribulations of getting the one at the back holding the stick safely around the race course. Meanwhile the helms met up at a different restaurant to talk boat bimbling and capsize technique, in a healthy mix of Franglais. The fleet converged afterwards at the Exit Bar, where the hardier sailors stayed on probably longer than they should have done, given the breezy forecast for day three and the likelihood of having four races instead of the scheduled three.
Day three lived up to the promise of the forecast, delivering perfect RS800 conditions of 15 knots, flat water and sunshine. The committee laid the course close inshore, giving the option to tack up the rocks with advantageous shifts on the right or blast out left in clear air.
Racing started pretty well on time after a couple of recalls. Hugh and Fiona led off the pin to win the first race. Tom and Guy were 2nd in that race and then banged in three more bullets to clinch their first European championship win with a day to spare. Meanwhile Luke and Emma McEwen continued their consistent run with 2nds and 3rds to pull through to second overall, happy to find some moments of good speed after changing to crew sheeting last year. They enjoyed close racing on the left side of the beats with the speedy new team of David Conlon and Ed Gibbons who were clearly revelling in the stronger breeze. Downwind was spiced up by dodging the RS700s and numerous lobster pot buoys. The leading French team of Gilles Peeters and Heloise Baize moved up the leader board with a well-deserved 2nd place in the last race. Phil and John took advantage of two of the longer gaps between races to pop back to the club for coffees.
Despite a big four-race day, we were ashore in time for baguettes and an afternoon nap before the big dinner of paella, chocolate brownies and tarte aux pommes laid on by YC de Carnac. After all that excitement, there didn’t seem to be much appetite for a tour of the bars afterwards.
The forecast for day four meant we weren’t going to be waiting for a sea breeze: drizzle turning to heavy rain, but at least there was a good 10 knots gradient wind from the south. Tom and Guy, with the championship in the bag, swapped over helm and crew. It turns out Guy is quite a handy helm despite Tom’s crew work. He was gracious enough to duck out at the finish of both races to avoid embarrassing the rest of us with what would have been a 3rd and a 5th. Phil and John sailed two great races holding Luke and Emma a place behind in each race to tie on points overall, taking 2nd on countback. Hugh and Fiona won their third bullet of the series in the last race to take 4th overall, hotly pursued by Gilles and Heloise who were 5th overall and first French team. Martin Orton and Ian Brooks took 3rd in race 9 to almost catch David and Ed for 6th overall, losing out on countback, but it was enough to clinch the all-important Orton Family Championship by one point ahead of daughter Steph and Alex in 8th. This secured Steph and Alex a ride back to Caen, as well as Steph being first female helm.
Bryan Ormond and Anna Prescott, sailing the oldest boat and without a doubt the oldest set of sails, found the accelerator pedal in the last race to finish 3rd, overtaking Guy and Tom and holding off Phil and John to the finish. This pulled them up to 11th overall to claim the mid-fleet heroes prize which was a very nice bottle from title sponsors Salcombe Gin.
Back ashore, the club laid on another delicious spread of Breton cider and croque-monsieur to help us on our way home. A slight hitch came when the protest committee declared that alcoholic prizes could not be presented at the prizegiving (apparently banned in French sport sponsorship). Our wonderful organiser Heather applied her mix of diplomacy and lateral thinking, splitting the prizegiving in two, firstly the Salcombe Gin prizes and then the YC de Carnac prizes, never to be caught together on camera. Meanwhile aerial entertainment was provided by a seagull attacking the photographer’s drone.
Our thanks go to all the volunteers at YC de Carnac who made the 2022 RS800 European championship a very enjoyable and convivial event afloat and ashore, Salcombe Gin for providing lovely bottles of their botanicals, La Boulange bakery for delicious food, Heather for all her hard work behind the scenes and all the new and older teams who made the effort to travel from all corners of France and Britain, putting the last two years behind us and getting back to the friendly, sociable but competitive racing we love. Congratulations to Tom and Guy, our new RS800 European champions.
We’re now looking forward to our Noble Marine RS800 Nationals at the RS Games 28-31 July. Info here
Report by Luke and Emma McEwen
Up on Y&Y here