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RS200 Inland Championship at Rutland Sailing Club

by Rob Henderson 15 Dec 2017 09:41 GMT 9-10 December 2017
Maria Stanley and Rob Henderson – RS200 Inlands ©

Having had the date rearranged due to storm force winds in October, the Inland Championships took place at Rutland on the 9/10th December. Trepidation over the possibility of being cold affected the number of entries, however amongst the 12 teams present were the current 470 National Champion (Birrell), 400 Inland Champion (Holden), Merlin National Champion (Roberts) and the reigning RS200 National Champion himself (Palmer), amongst other serial winners.

Saturday saw what can only be described as three vintage 200 races run very promptly and accurately by the volunteer team from Rutland. A North Westerly breeze that barely got above freezing brought gusts of 16 knots with some unforgiving shifts and holes.

In race 1, Christian Birrell/Alan Roberts fired out the blocks to edge around the windward alongside Maria Stanley/Rob Henderson, with Ben Palmer/Claire Walsh rounding just behind in a puff. Some impressive breeze spotting and crew work saw Palmer/Walsh take the lead by the leeward mark but Stanley/Henderson managed to split upwind and sneak past. A fraught downwind leg ended in a tight finish. Stanley/Henderson just took the first race from Palmer/Walsh and Birrell/Roberts. At this juncture, the author's helm revealed that she "was actually too hot during that race but I didn't tell you because you looked close to tears." How thoughtful.

On the first beat of race 2, Birrell/Roberts and Stanley/Henderson played the left to their advantage and lead the fleet. A race long, tooth-and-nail battle between the two teams ensued, with the boats rarely more than 5 boatlengths apart. Behind them, former youth champ Tom Ballantine crewed by Maddy Anderson, Palmer/Walsh and Jack Holden/Amy Yeoman were lingering with intent. By now the digital compasses on board were starting to fail due to the cold but the intensity of the action kept minds and bodies warm. Stanley/Henderson 1st, Birrel/Roberts 2nd and Ballantine/Anderson 3rd.

The start of race 3 was so well set that teams were torn as which end to chose. Various pin end shenanigans led to Palmer/Walsh unnecessarily clearing themselves after the gun, while Rob Gullan/Izzy Allerston and Birrell/Roberts charged ahead. Christian later proclaimed over his beer that "Despite the fact we were clearly a boatlength over the line, there was no chance we were going back. You just don't extend a race when its that cold." Sage advice, but a shame as a mercurial throw of the dice on the last downwind meant they crossed the line in first to silence.

While some hurried to their accommodation, a section of the fleet huddled together in the bar to establish whether or not their hands, feet and noses still existed and listened to the dulcet tones of fellow 200 sailor Ben Saxton's punditry from the Bahamas. The poor chap really missed out on a cracking days racing, but I suppose duty called.

Sunday was when the real racing began as heavy snowfall threatened to imprison the fleet at the club. The racing was hastily abandoned, boats packed up and the prize giving rattled through. The Championship went to Maria Stanley (the first ever lady helm to have won it) and Rob Henderson, 2nd were Tom Ballantine and Maddy Anderson and 3rd were Ben Palmer and Claire Walsh. Ed Connellan and Matt Rhodes won the Youth Championships, now run alongside the Inlands. The boys join some stars of the sport on the trophy. Youth girls winners were Hattie Collingridge and Katie Sparks. RS200 Junior Champions were Hannah Mumford and Tara Head. These four girls wil certainly be ones to watch for the future.

The journey home will remain in the memory almost as long as the sailing. To start with, the author managed to get back to Lymington in 6.5 hours and Jack Holden quickly discovered that his automobile is almost certainly better suited to high speed police chases and drug runs than tackling inclement weather. Having had Amy tow the boat up the hill out of the club, the big blue beamer required the assistance of a kindly local Land Rover to traverse the 5 miles to the A1.

Meanwhile special mention must go Ben Palmer who, despite having left two hours earlier than his fellow competitors straight after breakfast, decided to get radical between the A1 and the M1. This uncalculated risk saw his advantage diminish and an arrival at home in Surbiton 7 hours later, a triumph of inefficiency.

Rob and Izzy really outperformed the competition. A sensible vehicle choice and decision to stick with the underrated A1 route meant they got home before dark, wondering what all the fuss was about.

Thank you to Maria and Alan for documenting the rally jam-by-jackknife via the aptly named group "snow bants".

Overall Results:

PosHelmCrewSail NoClubR1R2R3Pts
1stMaria StanleyRob Henderson1642Itchenor SC/HISC1113
2ndTom BallantineMaddy Anderson1331Salcombe YC4329
3rdBen PalmerClaire Walsh1628HISC2439
4thJack HoldenAmy Yeoman1639Itchenor SC65415
5thChristian BirracAlan Roberts1543HISC32OCS20
6thEd ConnellanMatt Rhodes920Middle Nene SC77822
7thSeb BalchEmma Knott1262tbc88723
8thAndy HadfieldRachel Hadfield1617Parkstone YC99624
9thRobert GullanIzzy Allerston1621HISC56RET26
10thHattie CollingridgeKatie Sparks1663Waldringfield SC1011526
11thHannah MumfordTara Head1140Redoubt SC/Downs SC1110DNC36
12thMarcin CentkowskiLeslaw Maciag855Severn SC12DNCDNC42
13thMartin PentyTom Penty1631Beaver SCDNCDNCDNC45
13thRory OdellJosh Bonsey1425Northampton SCDNCDNCDNC45