Paignton seafront is beautiful on a sunny day. The grockles come out in force to bathe on the sandy beach and the seagulls lie in wait for a tasty ice cream to pilfer. It also means that some of the roads get chokka, hence Mostyn Evans took the scenic route from Cornwall via Exeter. The sort of detour he normally takes up a beat, but this one meant he missed all the races on Saturday.
The forecast force 4 made reigning National Champion Huw Powell very happy, but while it appeared for the briefing, it was on the way out by the time the first race was sailed. That left the way open for the younger end of the fleet (a relative term, which also means they are lighter, more agile and fitter ie they’ve drunk fewer beers).
Saturday had a couple of sailors vying for the Duckhams award for the daftest behaviour. Bart Bridgen left shore before realising that he’d forgotten to attach his outhaul, so sailed ashore. That was sensible. He then relaunched, only to realise he’d forgotten his tiller extension. How he didn’t spot this omission on his first outing is head scratching. He then succeeded in capsizing 20 seconds before the second start. Not his best day.
Steve Jones pushed Bridgen hard by succeeding in capsizing twice and hitting two marks (POSH doesn’t allow marks to be hit, unlike normal RS events). Steve also claimed to have seen a dolphin, presumably during one of his underwater escapades.
Elsewhere, Matt Johnson showed the fleet a clean transom in Races 1 and 2 bagging two bullets (with a disastrous 6thin the third race). Ian Gregory was remembering how to sail the 100, with his results improving through the day (5,2,1). Mark Harrison showed uncharacteristic consistency with a 2,3,4 with David Smart improving through the day with 6,4,3. Others showing briefly at the front were Powell (3,5,7), whose results went the same way as the dying wind, and Andy Jones (4,7,2).
Sunday dawned with a gentle Force 2, suggesting a duel between Johnson and Gregory. The first race saw a turbo charged Bridgen (with outhaul attached and tiller in hand) take second in Race 4 behind the ever quick Johnson and Powell enjoying the strongest wind of the day taking 3rd with Harrison remaining consistent in 4th and Gregory 5th.
Race 5 saw the wind become more fickle. Gregory noodled his way to the front with Johnson second, Bridgen 3rd with Harrison overtaking 4 boats on the last run in a personal gust to take 4th again.
That meant it was Johnson’s to lose. Gregory would have to win and Johnson would need to be outside the top 5. Possible, but a tall order. It had paid to go left up every beat for the event so far. So Smart bagged the pin and sailed off to the left along with Johnson and Gregory. Smart then spotted something on the horizon and tacked across the fleet to the starboard layline, taking advantage of a big sea breeze shift, leading Gregory to the first mark. Johnson was at the back of the fleet. Game on for Gregory! He started catching Smart on the run, but Smart went right again on the second beat, retaining his lead and finishing clear of Gregory. Steve Jones was third, demonstrating that staying upright is definitely quicker. Bridgen was 4th completing a very consistent Day 2 for him. Johnson came in unhappily in 9th, not realising until the prize giving that he had done enough, clinging on to victory on countback.
So the POSH champion was Johnson, Gregory second with Harrison finishing off the podium in third place. The Rooster mid fleet prize went to Powell, the Rooster Endeavour prize went to Paul Craft of Teign Corinthian YC. The Duckhams award went to the judges and Bart Bridgen took the prize on a split decision!
Paignton Sailing Club remains one of the most friendly clubs around, with the race officer and his team keeping the event flowing and managing to complete all the races despite the wind’s efforts. The shore team push you off and bring you your trolley with a willing smile and the bar and kitchen team keep everyone well nourished. Thank you to everyone at Paignton SC.
Next stop on the RS100 Rooster National Tour is Weir Wood on 3rd June, followed by the Salcombe Gin RS Summer Regatta on 24/25 June.