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Noble Marine 2012 #2

RS300 Nationals Runners & Riders - The Verdict

by Steve Bolland on 29 Sep 2016 8-11 September 2016

The RS300 Volvo Noble Marine Nationals is done and dusted for another year and we enjoyed a fantastic welcome from Exe SC. The forecast before the event wasn't wrong and the event was predominantly a breezy affair. But then it always is – the last light wind event was in, like, 2007. The wind was up, the waves were up but was our crystal ball-gazing prior to the event also up to the mark?

Team Trophy

Prediction
Hykeham won the team trophy last year with an impressive result from their fledgling fleet. They will start as favourites again this year, particularly as otherwise-strong contenders from Emsworth, Sheffield Viking, Lymington and Prestwick have all failed to enter a full team. That leaves newbies of Stewartby and Warsash to take up the challenge. Warsash have the sea-sailing experience, Stewartby have greater RS300 experience. Hykeham have the talent. Enough said.

Verdict
Home run! As expected Hykeham had the talent – but only after Martin Hutchings of Warsash failed to turn up on day one. Close one that!

Junior

Prediction
This could be a tough one – tough to find a competitor, that is. Like the retirement age, the limit keeps going up. Anyone under 30 could be in with a chance here.

Verdict
Strike one! We should have known Harry McVicar was going to win this. He's had an RS300 since he was 14 and he's still only in his early 20s – an unbeatable combination of youth AND experience.

Apprentice

Prediction
With the fleet boasting more virgins than Essex, some of the newcomers are already going too quickly for the old hands' liking; this could be a very close call. Paul Watson from Bowmoor has already put in some impressive performances during the Grand Prix season as well as putting Matt "Mr Consistent" Jenkins in his place at Abersoch. Even newer-comer Nick Bubb, with an impressive nautical CV, looks quick already, but his downfall could be buying Declan's old boat. If the choppy is sloppy watch out for Robby Jonesy. Dark horse could be Iain Horlock from the home club, current Supernova champion and has the local knowledge. On the downside, he's never sat in an RS300 before.

Verdict
Homer again! Everyone mentioned finished comfortably in the gold fleet. In the end it was close but our crystal-ball gazing is up to the mark. Iain Horlock did exceptionally well in a borrowed boat that had to be reconstructed on the day before the event started and he showed a remarkable lack of wobbliness, but then he's a very good sailor, damn him. Just pipped Paul Watson in his leaky boat who was top 10 in every race.

Fidelis

Prediction
Basically goes to one of the old hands who's had a shocker during the week. Could be anyone.

Verdict
It was Richard Le Mare this year. Actually not such a shocker, finishing 8th overall, but don't tell him that.

So to the main event, in no particular order apart from starting with the top 2 from the last 4 years.

544 – Dave 'Windy' Acres – The Emsworth Express

Prediction
Taking the defence of his title far too seriously - new boat, attended more Grand Prix events this year than collectively ever, even spotted drinking shandy.....You know Windy never makes mistakes but perhaps after the Southerns the unflappable has started to flap.

Verdict
Unfortunately couldn't make it due to a family illness. Sorely missed, if only for his drinking capability, and hopefully back next year.

411 - Steve Bolland – The Wessex Wizard

Prediction
Wizard with gaffer tape that is, which largely holds his boat together. Been down at Exe practising so much no longer needs a SatNav to find it. Apparently the local constabulary still have an outstanding warrant out on Steve from his last two nationals at Exe which could hinder his bid to regain the title.

Verdict
Perhaps not such a wizard after all, losing his mast on the first day. Subsequently managed to evade the Fuzz, borrow a mast and survive the penultimate night's drinking and late-night kebab to record a record-breaking 7th title. Has promised a more regimented maintenance programme next year but then he's promised that before and his boat still looks like a shed.

476 - Steve Sallis – The Hykeham Hurricane

Prediction
Newly appointed fleet Mr Consistent, looking for a hat-trick in the lightweight category and will spearhead Hykeham's challenge to retain the team trophy.

Verdict
Are we good or what? 100% correct. I'm buying a lottery ticket tomorrow. Also took his speed up a notch to push Wizard all the way on the final day to record 2nd place, despite a dicky rudder.

328 - Tim Keen – The Yorkshire Yoda

Prediction
Short in stature he is. Desperately seeking his first championship win; with 2 of last year's top 5 AWOL is this Tim's big chance? Will he overcome the big 2 or will he be the Wenger of the North? Perhaps pending fatherhood will provide the maturity needed to mount a serious challenge.

Verdict
Tim, Tim, Tim – what went wrong? Good first and last day but an absolute shocker on the Saturday – a bit like Arsenal in February. Next year... there's always next year, but will require a new striker and centreback. Perhaps actual fatherhood will provide the maturity needed to mount a serious challenge next year.

524 - Matt 'The Major' Sargent – The Royal Artillery Rocket

Prediction
Recently promoted so now a Lieutenant Colonel and recently back from a tour of duty and rapidly catching up on his sailing, having already been spotted in Weymouth doing the 2000 Nationals. Needs the wind to be up so probably rubbing his hands in glee already, plus the sand in Devon will be nicer than that in the desert.

Verdict
The sand was better but gear failure (another dicky rudder) and an OCS didn't help. Went well in the windy stuff on the first and last days as expected.

555 - Richard LeMare - The Mauve Missile

Prediction
Hot footing from his epic 'Round the Island in a 300' trip, Rich has certainly put time in the boat as preparation. Will it pay off? Will he have recovered? Will anyone care?

Verdict
Boat is as mauve as ever, or is that violet? No, definitely mauve, or purple. Picked up the fidelis trophy for being loyal. And, no, we didn't care.

500 - Pete Ellis – The Stewartby Shaft

Prediction
Getting more consistent and faster each year, or are the rest of us just getting slower? If he can forget about his day job of singlehandedly building Crossrail and get into holiday mode he could have his best ever result. If.

Verdict
Won a bottle of his own fizz on the first day for his first ever Nationals race win. Quite possibly his last as well.

518 – Luke Pepper – The Lincoln Lightning

Prediction
'I am your father, Luke' said Luke's father once. Great improvement last year, can it be sustained into 2016? Has improved his heavy-weather skills to complement his status as a light-air flyer. Has absolutely the best automated system for getting his boat off the top of his camper. Always draws a crowd hoping something will break and worth a prize in its own right.

Verdict
Still going better in the lighter stuff so work still required on his pie-eating capabilities. Perhaps Lightning and Hurricane (is this some sort of throwback to Gladiators?) should start a reverse fitness club at Hykeham to increase body mass ahead of next year.

481 - Martin Harrison – The Fishbourne Flyer

Prediction
When Squibs become just too exciting for Martin, he escapes the Isle of Wight on some sort of prison break to show us his 300 pedigree. All too infrequent visitor at events, but quick and will be there or thereabouts, especially if it blows - despite only being 5' 6".

Verdict
It blew, and he went well, despite only being 5'6". Electric upwind but threw away a potential race win by making a navigational error. Bet he'll pay more attention at briefings in future. 3rd.

337 - Paul Watson – The Bowmoor Bullet

Prediction
Another destined for a top 10 at his first Nationals, but will he survive the evening entertainment?

Verdict
Top 6! A bit of a lightweight when it came to the entertainment though, leaving early most nights. Don't think we didn't notice. We'll be looking for an improvement on evening activities at the Inlands.

523 – Harry McVicar – The Draycote Degenerate

Prediction
New house, new career, new dream of winning the Nationals. Has the ability, just needs to hold it all together – a sensible young man so won't be distracted by excessive late-night drinking.

Verdict
Leader after the first day. But what was that about being sensible? Tried to drink Bolland under the table on the last night but lacks the body mass and years of experience Bolly has. Results went south as a result. 5th.

414 – Iain Horlock – The Supernova Shed

Prediction
Could be quick. Could be really quick. Playing on home turf so should know the way round but might find it a struggle to fit his 7 foot frame under the boom. We hope so anyway.

Verdict
Was quick, really quick at times counting a string of podium places. Impressive in the windy stuff when even the veterans were having difficulty downwind. Prefers a steadier ride though so we may not see him again. 4th.

480 – Rob Jones – The Warsash Warrior I

Prediction
Bought Dave Acre's championship winning boat hoping for an easy ride to the podium. After a tough introduction to the class, started to show promise at the Southerns in that sloppy Solent chop. Part of the new Warsash posse; likely to be one of the last out of the bar.

Verdict
It was sloppy, and that was just the kebab. A string of good results that we largely put down to the boat.

527 - Ian Clark – The Warsash Warrior II

Prediction
Watch out for this one - he'd shop his own mum for a good finish. Warsash again and almost certainly the last to leave the bar.

Verdict
Not only the last out of the bar but also first into the kebab shop. Mum's safe for another year.

317 - Martin Hutchings – The Warsash Warrior III

Prediction
Untested final part of the Warsash team. But could have the pedigree to spring a surprise. The biggest surprise at the moment is that he's still looking for somewhere to stay.

Verdict
Found somewhere to stay. Although untested, showed excellent staying power and put in some good results after missing the first day. That day cost Warsash the team prize though. Just saying.

490 – Alistair 'Storky' McClaughlin – The Prestwick Pitbull

Prediction
Having recently won the FD Nationals will be full of confidence for the 300s. Let's face it, if you can depower an FD you can depower anything. Will still be hoping for the light-end of the wind range though so may have to wait another year.

Verdict
God, can this man eat! Despite this the Pitbull still went better in the lighter stuff, including a race win to his name. In fact he was so far ahead in that race we thought he was in a different race altogether. He was certainly in a different league. Part one of the newly-named Boatyard at Prestwick who provided all and sundry with spare parts all week.

336 - Mark Taylor – The Ayrshire Athlete

Prediction
Having recently won the FD Nationals with Storky, will be full of confidence for the 300s. No trapeze though which may slow him a bit. Also no genoa or kite. Or Storky. Will improve on his recent Nationals results though.

Verdict
Definitely going better, even considering he gave all his good kit out to the rest of the fleet as part of his burgeoning Boatyard business. Could have turned a tidy profit if he'd charged for it, mostly from me. I guess a pint or two would be in order at the Inlands before I hand the mast back.

341 - Nick Bubb – The Lymington Layabout I

Prediction
Could probably make a barn door with a mast go quick. As previously mentioned, top tip for the apprentice trophy so long as he masters those tricky downhill sleigh rides. Will his triathlete wife have got him fit enough to compete with the likes of Windy Acres? Probably not.

Verdict
Perhaps needs to join the current Mrs B on some of those training runs. Enjoyed life back in a dinghy though and will only get quicker. Picked up a wooden spoon trophy during the week as expected. Some things never change.

313 - Ben Green – The Lymington Layabout II

Prediction
The oldest boat in the fleet, but only just – a couple of others must have been built the following day. Boat age is no barrier to speed in the 300 fleet though and his 'never say die' attitude will hold him in good stead should the breeze get really frightening.

Verdict
The breeze did get frightening and put in some good results proving that Jihadi Ben is no slouch. Really, what is that beard all about? Finished every race and getting quicker all the time.

422 – Alastair 'Woody' Wood – The Gravesend Greyhound

Prediction
Will he take over as Chairman from Wizard and Shaft? That's all we need to know.

Verdict
Partial result. On the committee.

342 - Ian Hopkins – The Southport Streak

Prediction
Not seen since breaking his mast at last year's Nationals. It was sailable, honest! Hoping to keep his kit in one piece this year and finish all the races. Just don't get in a round with him – that's all.

Verdict
There's some karma here somewhere. It was Bolly's suggestion to go racing last year when the Streak broke his mast. Bolly's mast went over the front this year. Both occasions were sailable though, honest.

318 - Gary Morris & Ben Deacon – The A Rig Arrows

Prediction
It will be good to see two of the flatter A rigs at the champs this year. Could well be very quick if the forecast is right. Will anyone else follow suit with the smaller rig as their bodies give up?

Verdict
Did Deacon actually buy the right rig? He looks way too big for the A-rig he uses. Despite this apparent disparity actually went better in the lighter winds on day 3. Ditto Gary. Is there some magic going on here?

321 - Stuart Woodger – The Devon Dynamo

Prediction
'Look what you could have won'! One for the oldies, that. First introduction to the 300 circuit racing was the slaloms - tough gig that one - will probably do less tacks and gybes in the whole champs and expected to find his feet. The only guy heading North to attend the Nationals.

Verdict
Whoa! Where did that 2nd in race 4 come from? Was almost as far ahead as Storky in that race. I would have been far happier for him had I not started just to windward of him in that one. Some other good results too in his first champs.

417 - Dan Treloar – The IT Irritant

Prediction
Returns to the Nationals for the third time. Bound to take the AGM minutes and have more gadgets and gizmos than anybody else. Results tend to be directly proportional to alcohol intake.

Verdict
Overall wooden spoon winner for bashing his boat on the only day racing was cancelled. Probably should have seen that coming. Still waiting for the AGM minutes.

515 - John Peters – The Hykeham Hawk

Prediction
Welcome return for the old man - well we think it is - records don't go that far back. Capt Sallis will be keen to ensure John plays his part for Hykeham in retaining the team trophy

Verdict
John and the current Mrs P were staying at my B&B. Possibly not Mr.P's best ever event, but he and the Mrs enjoyed themselves immensely as far as I could tell. The pink toast option (don't ask) at the B&B always raised a giggle.

479 - Julian Gunnell - The Bedfordshire Beast

Prediction
Lured into the 300 from Phantoms by Shaft. Straight into his first Nationals and keen to make an impression - any impression will do.

Verdict
Actually not such a bad impression. Top 10 in one race and some other goodies too.

373 - Rich Hargreaves – The Stewartby Star

Prediction
Another ex-Phantomer debuting to make a strong team from Stewartby. Good light to medium wind operator, but bemoans the "athleticism" of some others in a breeze. He clearly hasn't seen many of us.

Verdict
Very consistent, actually going a bit better in the rougher stuff than the lighter. Mr Athletic now.

The full version of Old Bolland's Almanac 2017 will be in the shops before Christmas.

Recapture that great fleet spirit at your RS300 Inlands at Hykeham SC over the weekend 22-23 Oct. This will be the closing event of your Magic Marine Grand Prix (7 events with 3 to count). So up for grabs are the Inlands Trophy and the Grand Prix trophy, with Magic Marine vouchers for the top travellers. Find all the event information here.

Then it's a big multifleet party at the End of Season Championship at Rutland SC 5-6 Nov. The format is 3 races on Saturday then a massive RS pursuit race on Sunday to find the RS 2016 Champion! More details to follow.

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