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RS Games Runners and Riders

Way, way back when I was young, there was a TV sitcom sketch where a jack-the-lad gets taken for the first time to meet his posh girlfriends family for the first time. “What do you do for a living?”, asks the father. “I’m an accountant” says JtL. “What sort of accountant? Chartered, tax, management, public?” asks father. “Turf” comes the answer.

I am not sure quite what this tells us about the RS Class Secretariat’s view of your correspondent, when they ask me to write a ‘runners-and-riders’ for the forthcoming RS100 Nationals, because I am a Finance Director, not a bookie. I did read a Dick Francis novel once but that’s as close as I get. If you are expecting things like ”7-3 Joe Bloggs to win” here, you’re going to be disappointed therefore.

Further, my own personal best RS100 Nats result came after (clearly very dodgy) accountant David Smartie Smart wrote one of these previews and totally discounted my chances of troubling anyone. Which makes me think I ought to choose my words carefully. Nah, to blazes with that. So who have we got entered so far, needs keeping an eye on?

3 Past champions
Going for his hat-trick of championship wins (that were preceded by two runner-up medals) will be RYA Sport Development Director Al Dickson. We’ve not seen him on the circuit this year - he’s either keeping his powder dry or finding he has all the competition he needs sailing at Gurnard. Not sure how, if he did win again, it would help develop the sport, but I leave that to his conscience.

Gurnard is also home-club to 2015 champion Brett Aarons, who won this year’s summer championship at Parkstone. At last year’s nationals Brett was a (for him) disappointing 4th. I think you can bet that he will be looking to make amends this year, 

On a ’the-past-is-a-guide-to-the-future’ basis, you’d probably not look beyond these two. But that would be hasty.

Now recognised as the fleet’s Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde is Huw Powell, multiple times champion, but always with the 10.2 rig. Unfortunately for Huw, we are now all sailing the 8.4. If the summer heatwave returns, and the wind stays light, poor Huw will likely struggle for straight-line speed, although the boat invariably gets pointed in the right direction. Conversely, if it blows, he can beat anyone. Stand well clear of Huw if we go to the Crab-shack for a meal - he’s known to be rather over-enthusiastic with the shell-hammer.

The young-gun
As predicted some time ago, Robert Richardson is turning into a proper nuisance, seeming to get taller, bigger and better at every event. Won the Sprints and ran Brett seriously close at the southerns, he’s certain to be in the mix. The best bet to slow him down may be to take him out on the beers and hope we can out-drink him. 

Neymar?
It seems that (Carnac apart) it has not really been happening for Steve Lee, with results not quite matching his talent or effort. Being the driving force behind a superb Nationals at his then home club, Weston, last year was probably an impediment. This year, he says he’s lighter and fitter. Then, on the last day at Carnac, where we drifted about but never actually got to race, he goes and seriously injures his foot. So finger’s crossed it recovers sufficiently for him to sail and do so unhindered. His last three Nats have brought a 4,4,3. Rest assured, he’s aiming higher than that. 

 

Mr What’s-a-spreader-mark? 

Greg Booth has rarely missed a 100 event since the class’s inception. Which does make us wonder why he gets the course wrong so often when he is leading, omitting spreader marks being his favourite. More competitive when the wind is up, where he is more than capable of winning a race or two, can he finally put a series together? Will he be able to cope without his joined-at-the-hip rival David Smart being there?

 

Half the man he was

Another candidate for the Neymar award is Mark Harrison, who is a shadow of the man he was. Perhaps cutting down to only 7 choc bars a day is the secret to his dieting success. The slimming down does not seen to have done his physiology much good though - he’s been complaining about a dodgy hip ever since and claiming he may not even be able to sail. Your wife is a pharmacist Mark, with access to all sorts of helpful medication, sort it out. Fitness aside, like Greg, Mark is perfectly capable of winning a race at least. Be interesting to see if he is faster in the light stuff now.

 

The opposite of Huw

Multiple open winner Ian Gregory has the opposite issue to Huw - devastating quick in the light but struggles for lack of weight when the wind is up. Certainly knows which way to point the boat and has the Frensham touch when it’s crazy-shifty. Bound to improve on a difficult time at Weston.

 

The smiling assassin 

Sir Giles of Peckham is always extremely polite, contrite even, as he overtakes you. A proven race winner, Giles was 3rd overall at Torbay in 2015 and 17th last year (but a Duckhams winner at least). It will be interesting to see if he returns to form. Likely to be canny as anyone inside Portland harbour. Giles has been practising by sailing his Daring in Cowes week. Is that a good thing?

 

No upside-down jokes please

Last year’s mystery candidate, Dutchman Pim van Vugt proved to be more than capable - he was unlucky not to win. Can David Williamson, travelling all the way from Australia, do the same and take the fleet by storm? This will be a first benchmarking of the UK and Aus fleets (where David was 5th in their last nationals) so I have absolutely no idea! The heatwave seems to have ended over here David - so bring warm clothes.

 

Don’t step out

It’s virtually impossible to buy a second-hand RS100 at the moment because they all get snapped up by members of Netley SC. We might have to apply boat buying sanctions to them though, as Luke Goble is one of just two (and a half) Netley entrants this year. They sent more boats than that to Lake Como last year despite Weymouth-Portland obviously being far more glamorous. Adrenaline-loving Luke is a top tip for a Duckhams this year. He’s been sailing an 18ft skiff - there has to be a chance he dives for a non-existent trapeze handle in a gybe at some point.

 

Last man standing

Steve Jones is going to have to go some to make up for the hopeless effort from Chew Valley this year. Steve’s brother Andy and pensioner (so no excuses) David Smart have proven incapable of proper diary management and booked clashing holidays elsewhere. Mr I-hate-sailing Chris Goldhawk has returned to a Solo, for crying out loud. Unforgivable. But we like Steve most anyway.

 

Bimble-meister

If the nationals were decided on boat-bimbling, your correspondent, Clive Eplett would be odds-on favourite. Sailing; less so. 

 

And that’s the gold-fleet, but the silver fleet are bound to be in the mix too. Judging by his outing at Rutland, Joe Scurrah is more than capable of breaking in to the top 10 (and better) and Simon Geyman seemed (mostly) to have got over his capsizing addiction at Carnac and was seriously quick when the wind was up. Mostyn Evans is, at some point, bound to cause chaos through lack of rules knowledge, as befits a lawyer and judge.

 

What is certain is that, whatever the weather, whatever the results, the craic in the RS100 fleet will be as fab as ever, although not necessarily as suicidal in the bar as our friends in the 300s. Either way, some of us may have got older, but that does not mean we have to grow up too, does it?

 

Clive Eplett


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