RS100 Rooster National Tour at Weir Wood SC 2023
by Matt Johnson
Saturday 3rd June saw the now annual Rooster RS100 event take place at Weir Wood SC in a combined event with the 200s. The morning started with somewhat dull skies with a gentle (ish) breeze. That was to quickly change though throughout the day as 9 boats took to the water.
With a windward leeward course set and the ever-strengthening breeze blowing down the pond from the northeast race one got underway. With a clean start away local boy Matt Johnson (Weir Wood SC) rounded the windward mark in pole position, closely followed by Mark Harrison (Gurnard SC) , Clive Eplett (Frensham Pond) and Ian Gregory (Frensham Pond) By this point solid darkening gusts were starting to play their part as the wind increased. Numerous places were to be changed throughout on a very shifty afternoon! In a blanket finish with no more than a boat length splitting the first 4 home Harrison took the line honours followed by Johnson, Gregory and Eplett.
Race two got underway with Eplett (the wily old fox) showing the fleet a clean pair of heels, keeping up his form from our opening event of the season at Rutland. The breeze at this point again continuing to build, boat handling was becoming ever apparent. Clive sailed the fleet into submission taking home his first bullet followed by Gregory (showing that he isn’t just a light wind genius) and Harrison.
Race Three. The final one before we headed in for a deserved lunch with conditions now becoming pretty cheeky. The fleet was made to work for it though with an additional lap being added, although not everyone decided to take note of that. Eplett again made the best of the first beat rounding the windward mark in pole with Dave Giles (Weir Wood SC) close by and a whole host of others. The downhill legs had now started to claim victims as numerous boats were caught out on gybes etc and taking a Weir Wood plunge.
The lead changed place on several occasions with the gusty/shifty conditions not allowing anyone to escape. At the bottom of lap 3 (of 4) Eplett and the ever improvingly rapid Bart Bridgen (Netley SC) decided to head for the finish only to quickly realise they’d come too early. (Doh!) This opened the door for Harrison and Johnson to scoot into the lead with the latter piping Mark near the finish to take the bullet.
After some cracking lunch put on by the club, the tiring bodies headed back out onto the water in what could only be described as full-on Huw Powell weather. It was flippin’ honking! With the breeze now going slightly right Bridgen powered up the first beat closely followed by the usual suspects. Again, it was survival mode downhill with swimmers left, right and central. A member of the 200 fleet described it as a ‘graveyard’ of 100s upside down as they came down the course. Still, most people were still smiling at the awesome kite legs we were having. Bart had led throughout only to drop it in (aghhhhhh) on the final gybe to let through the ever consistent Eplett and Gregory.
It all came down to the final race with Eplett and Harrison gunning to take the open honours (Harrison being the defending champ)
There was no stopping Bart at this point, the boy quickly brushing off his swim in the last race to lead at the windward mark closely followed by Eplett with Harrison just behind. On the next lap, Clive had managed to get through and led on the water. Continued gusty and shifty conditions made this no mean feat. With the Open at his mercy Clive capsized going upwind leaving the door wide open for Harrison. Bart took full advantage and went on for a much-deserved race win with Mark taking second and Clive third.
However, unbeknown to him at the time Clive had held on to take the overall win on countback with Mark in second and Johnson taking the final podium spot.
A big thanks to all the organisers at Weir Wood and the race team for putting on another great event, with very little hanging around between races; it’s the smaller things that make the difference.
We hope to see you all at the next 100 event for more thrills and spills at the RS Summer regatta hosted by Hayling Island SC on 24/25th June.