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NEW! Rooster Weekend Open Event

    Photo Gallery, thanks to James Ripley

    I am going to start with the thanks to…

    • the wonderfully friendly team at Paignton SC for putting on the RS100’s first regatta of the year, including a very helpful beach team to help launch and recovery.
    • James Ripley, the Race Officer and his team for succeeding in getting away 10 great races in challenging shifty conditions.
    • the ever-supportive Rooster for sponsoring the prizes.
    • Bays Brewery for providing a barrel of Topsail, which provided a welcome free recovery drink of tasty amber ale at the end of sailing on Saturday.

    While we band of sailors wander round clubs on our Open meeting circuits, it is the support of the clubs and sponsors that make our sport, but even more so when having to deal with the added challenge of a viral pandemic.

    RS100 - report by David Smart

    The conditions over the 2 days was generally moderate for the 5 races on Saturday, although there were some larger gusts in the last couple of races on Saturday (26 knots recorded on the committee boat). With the sun out that made for real champagne sailing. However we were penned in by the Musto skiffs on Brixham and powerboats in Torquay. So racing was closer to the cliffs than preferred, which led to some very big shifts to catch everybody out. The 5 races on Sunday was much lighter at just 5 to 7 knots, with holes to be avoided and some very heavy rain showers that meant finding marks was sometimes a challenge.

    Onto the racing…10 races in 2 days is too many for me to write a blow by blow account of each race, so I shall summarise by identifying what we learned:

    • Ian Gregory is unbelievably quick in the light stuff. He won every single race on light wind Sunday, and only had one blemish in the 3 lighter wind races on Saturday with a poor second! (So guess who won the event?)
    • Gregory is not so quick when the wind picks up – providing some opportunity for others to take a win.
    • There are some new faces in the fleet and they are starting to go fast. Jon Elmes (one from the fast growing Chew Valley Lake fleet) showed signs of speed and too the mid-fleet Rooster prize.
    • Marek Caddy kept on battling. He won the Endeavour Rooster prize for hard work. If he moved to join the Chew Valley 100 fleet and he will start flying.
    • RS have created a very pink foredeck. Keith Willis showed it to good effect, leading races a number of times. His most visible manoeuvre was when approaching the final leeward gate on starboard in second place, but had Smart coming in hot claiming water on port, he took the difficult option of capsizing and drifting below the committee boat so he had to beat back up to the finish. All to show off his pink deck to the race officer.
    • Andy Jones needs to learn that turning up for one day to a two day event doesn’t lead to success. It also helps to sail to the correct leeward gate, not the gate on the neighbouring RS300 course. However his presence did help his fellow Chew sailor (Smart) overtake Harrison.
    • Mark Harrison remains a threat from anywhere on the race course. He stuffed Smart with a penalty before the start of Race 1 and in Race 7 he was early at the pin end, luffed into Jones and promptly fell over on his backside generously apologising to Jones for completely messing up his start.
    • David Smart (your correspondent) demonstrated a cavalier attitude to the rules. He tried to squeeze into the windward mark on port with no rights, so giving the unsuspecting Matt Johnson no choice but to ram him. I did my turn (Oops! Sorry again Matt.) I also succeeded in capsizing onto the leeward mark in 7 knots of wind in Race 6.
    • Matt Johnson is getting peskily faster, regularly appearing at the front, with particularly strong performances when the wind picked up.
    • Local boy Jonathan Hughes-Jones from Dittisham battled on throughout the event and kept smiling, after all – that is what we all do this for – it’s great fun.

    Come the end of racing, we all knew that Gregory had won the Rooster RS100 Paignton Open. He is a master in the light and shifty conditions that a North Westerly provides in Torbay. Smart and Harrison had no idea who had beaten who – the maths was too difficult. Harrison had enjoyed a great day on Saturday holding the overnight lead with a 1,2,1,2 scoreline. Gregory was second overnight with Smart third. Gregory ran away on Sunday, but a better day for Smart with 2,2,2,4 to count while Harrison had left all common sense behind having to count 3,3,4,4. That allowed Smart to beat Harrison by one point overall to claim second with Harrison third.

    I hope to see more new 100 sailors attending the next event as there has been an active market during lockdown, but many will be back to Paignton for POSH in May 2021.

    RS300 - report by Peter Mackin

    Paignton’s green mile was quiet. 9 RS300's were on the roster for the first post-lockdown open meeting, sharing the course with a friendly bunch of RS100's. The quiet chatter was only broken by a storm trooper running on the seafront, complete with pink-feathered mane and speakers blasting Pulp's "Common People". - No, you really could not make this up.

    Torbay was busy with the Musto Skiffs out of Brixham and Powerboats racing off Torquay; so, we were to be the piggies in the middle. With 5 races back to back on the cards and much of the fleet well out of practice, we could perhaps all have done without the shifty 5-25 knots that followed.

    The RS300s started first, heading round the outer loop trapezoid. Race one was clean with Harry 'SatNav' McVicar leading from Peter 'stop following Harry' Mackin and a tightly bunched pack behind. McVicar defended hard, so engrossed in the match that it was only when the chasing pack, led by Mark Cooper, veered off to the South, that the pair realised they were a long way off track. The race ended with Mackin ahead of McVicar and, new to the fleet, Liam Willis making his presence known in a borrowed boat.

    Race two was similar. Plenty of snakes and ladders across the course kept the racing close right through the fleet. McVicar led Cooper and Mackin to the finish.

    By the time race 3 rolled around the gusts were getting bigger and the lulls even quieter. Big shifts jumbled the order with almost every rounding. The classic unforgiving nature of the RS300 meant there was nowhere to hide. Plenty of tillers and mainsheets were dropped along with a few capsizes as the fleet scrambled to get their sea legs back. This time, Willis took his maiden RS300 victory and, judging by the rest of his regatta, it is sure to be the first of many. McVicar, keen to make a habit of top 2 finishes, followed behind.

    However, Harry's streak was about to come to an end. Most of the fleet had at least one bad beat / run per race. But in Race 4, McVicar shoved all his eggs in one basket and strung them together to finish 5th whilst Willis romped home first ahead of second place Richard Le Mare and his ‘Horny Devil’ - the prototype T-foil earning its keep in the building breeze.

    Normal service resumed for the final race of the day. McVicar and Willis fought to the end with the former holding out for the win. Cooper followed in 3rd followed by Le Mare. Sam Davy came in 6th to finish a super consistent set of results with Graham Cooper, Richard Packer and Ben Heppenstall just behind. Packer displaying a superb Carbon fibre camera mount, of the like rarely seen away from a Spielberg set.

    After 5 shifty, gusty and tough races, the breeze delivered a final kick in the teeth with a 20+ knot beat back to the beach on a low spring tide. Thankfully, Paignton's merry band of volunteers were on hand to deliver trolleys and make life for all a little easier. Overnight, the points were close right through the fleet. Every position still up for grabs.

    Day 2 brought a much lighter breeze of 5 - 10 knots. McVicar, unphased by the seagulls stomping on the roof of his tin tent overnight, took the first bullet of the day followed by Mackin, Willis and Heppenstall, who looked to be enjoying the lighter breeze.

    As forecasted the wind started its long swing to the left, set to continue through the day. After only a short break, the course was reset. Race seven finished with the same pair ahead of Cooper and Davy. Willis had started well but a short hop over to the right-hand side up the second beat teleported him backwards through the fleet, recovering to 5th.

    Another left swing, another course reset. The race team, led by James Ripley, were working hard, and doing a sterling job. Mackin won the pin end but still struggled to convert it to a bullet in the shifty breeze, McVicar once again leading the pair to the end. Willis and Cooper followed closely behind. Packer finished just ahead of Davy and Heppenstall who had been enjoying equally close and tough fought racing.

    The wind continued its left swing, bringing a welcome, short postponement. Not content with just hosting well managed and friendly open meetings, Paignton SC even laid on a halftime show. As the course was re-laid, the fleet enjoyed the start of the offshore powerboat racing, with the best seats in the house.

    Race nine was led off the mark by McVicar with Mackin in hot pursuit and sneaking past on the second beat. However, a big right-hand shift meant the final two legs were yet more beats. The leading pair each held on their port tack, waiting for the other to make a move. Fixated on their own duel, neither noticed the left shifting pressure filling in which brought Willis and Davy right back into the game. Mackin and McVicar, as some sort of comedy duo, both put in two hurried tacks to shut the door, but it was all too little too late. When they tacked back, Willis found himself trapped in their dirty air, but Davy screamed through to take an emphatic win. All change in the last 20 metres! McVicar was second, Mackin 3rd.

    As for the final race, Harry had already secured the overall win, so it was down to Willis and Mackin to fight it out for the final podium spots. The fleet tacked in unison over to the right-hand side with only Davy holding on a bit longer to the left. This time, slightly more wind favoured those who were to the right, McVicar, Willis and Mackin rounded the top mark with less than a boat length between each of them and Davy not far behind. At the top of the next run, Mackin lost his balance, almost capsizing to leeward, then to windward and in the end resorted to dropping everything and leaping onto whichever wing was furthest from the water, like a puppy about to take its first bath. Willis led McVicar at the leeward gate whilst Mackin split to the opposite side and crossed his fingers and toes. Tacking back towards the middle and buoyed by a very generous lifting gust, he enjoyed a brief glimmer of hope. However, the glimmer was quickly washed out in a biblical downpour and the right-hand shift was trumped by a big lefty, firing the leading pair up to the final windward mark. Willis and McVicar enjoyed a close battle down the final run. Liam took the bullet and second place overall, ending a brilliant first event in an RS300 for him. 4th overall was Cooper, followed by Davy, Heppenstall, Packer, Le Mare and Graham Cooper.

    So ended a weekend of fantastic racing. The format of five, short races a day proved testing but brilliant fun. Thanks go to Paignton Sailing Club for taking on the event in the circumstances and running it all so well. The race management was superb given the inconsistent and shifty conditions in the bay. Thanks to event sponsors Bay's Brewery for provision of free beer, now becoming a staple of RS300 open events, and to Rooster Sailing for their support of the National Tour and providing some great prizes.

    Finally, thanks must go to the RS300 committee for pushing on with the 2020 calendar where possible and to all the sailors that attended. An event that could have felt very strange, was enjoyed by all and served as a fantastic reminder of why the RS300 class is the best group going.

    The baton is now passed to Burghfield SC who play host to the 2020 RS300 Inland Championships on the 17th October.

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