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RS400 Southern Championship at Parkstone Yacht Club

by Mark Oakey 23 Jun 2015 12:27 BST 20-21 June 2015
RS Southern Champs at Parkstone © David Harding / www.sailingscenes.co.uk

Over the Solstice weekend 114 boats, 28 of them RS400s, descended on Parkstone Yacht Club for the Southern Championships. In a building 10 to 12 knots the fleet headed out to the start in Poole Bay.

Race 1 got underway after a short delay and Jon Gorringe and Nicky Bass (1414) engaged their "go faster up wind" button to wriggle around the first mark in the lead. They extended around the course to comfortably take the win. However behind, the race for second wasn't decided until metres from the finish. With Paul and Mark Oakey (1441) just edging out Jon Hessig and Nicky Griffin (1407) and Howard Farbrother and Dan Martin (1418).

In race 2 Howard and Dan lead at the windward mark but Jon Gorringe and Nicky Bass got past on the first run. They held the lead until the finish ahead of Howard and Dad with the Oakeys in 3rd.

Before race 3 a big black cloud promising more wind on the right hand side of the course, to go with the slacker tide, suggested right was the best option. Yet somehow the majority of the fleet found themselves going left, and the wrong way, up the first beat. This allowed Gorring and Bass to head hard right and lead by a street at the first windward mark. Never to be seen again. Hessig and Griffin were 2nd followed by Farbrother and Martin in 3rd.

A rather tired fleet returned to the yacht club where a fantastic dinner and a band were laid on for the competitors. As per RS tradition a few hop-based recovery drinks were consumed in the bar before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning dawned with a little more breeze than day 1 as the fleet headed out to the start. In race 4 Howard and Dan proved that Jon Gorringe and Nicky Bass weren't invincible by taking the race win. Howard's hop-based recovery drink induced pep talk to the Oakeys, that they needed better first beats seemed to work and they managed to finish a close 3rd.

Farbrother and Martin and Gorringe and Bass had another epic battle in the 5th race. With Gorringe engaging the "go faster up wind" button just enough to take the win and with it the event. Sources report that Nicky broke a nail on the last spinnaker drop so they decided it was best to head for an early shower as the breeze approached 20 knots.

The departure of Gorringe and Bass allowed team Farbrother and Martin to romp to victory in the final race ahead of Hessig and Griffin and the ever consistent David Brown and Rebecca Witt (1290). Team Oakey finishing just behind in 4th to hold on to 3rd overall by a point from Jon Hessig and Nicky Griffin.

Huge thanks go to Parkstone Yacht Club for putting on a fantastic event. The race team did an excellent job in shifty conditions while running the racing so smoothly you could barely notice the 2 other fleets sharing the course. Hopefully we will be back again soon!

In summary: Fantastic sailing, great food and excellent hop-based recovery drinks!

Attack of the Killer Chain Ferry
or Trials and Tribulations of an RS400 Back Marker

by Tony Cliff

It occurs to me that all race reports are written by the winners, or at the very worst someone not far behind. Whilst there's nothing inherently wrong with this (after all, history is always written by the winning side) it doesn't always tell the full story.

So with this in mind, here's our story from the recent RS Southern championships...

For those of you that don't know me, I sail with my best friend Shawn Woodcock at Bartley SC. We're usually somewhere towards the back of the fleet, although not always, we do every now and again get the occasional nose bleed.

Our planning for the Southern Champs started some time ago, probably around the time of the RS Sprint Champs at Rutland, when, buoyed by our promotion to the gold fleet (if only for one brief moment – we still have the picture to prove it) ans the large turnout of Bartley 400s – some 7 boats made the trip to Rutland - we all decided that it be great to try to repeat the experience at another event.

Ever since we started planning, tales of the killer chain ferry, along with links to Youtube videos of said ferry destroying a dinghy, have done the rounds; much to the amusement of some, but I have to say, a real worry for me.

So at 6am on Saturday 20th June Shawn arrived to pick me up. We travelled down to the south coast through the drizzle, eventually emerging in Poole to a gloriously sunny day. Some 100 boats of the various RS classes joined us; quite some spectacle.

After the briefing, which included instructions on getting past the chain ferry – don't hit it, as it's an offence - we started off with some trepidation. I should probably explain, as puddle sailors from Birmingham, our experience of sailing together on the sea is limited to a flat calm weekend at Pwllheli, lord knows how many years ago.

The sail out to Bournemouth bay was pretty uneventful really. 100 dinghies managed to negotiate the chain ferry with no real drama. In fact, once we cleared Poole harbour, it was a pretty good reach down to the start line. Our three races on the Saturday were pretty good too, enough breeze to get the boat planing and catch a few waves, but not too much to cause many problems. We also had our own little tussles with a few of the other back markers. In the first race, we were in about 23rd position for much of the race, until the last leg to the finish line...we didn't know where it was & the chasing pack did ! Hence our position of 27 out of 27.

Things improved in the second race; we had some exciting battles and ultimately managed to hold on to 20th (with the other 7 boats breathing down our necks at the finish line). In the final race of the day, tiredness along with a broken wing-wang meant that we retired, only to face a trudge back to the club against the tide. We clocked it at 1½ hours from the sailing area.

The real entertainment, as always, is reserved for Saturday night. To give you a flavour we had: an RAC callout due to an overactive fridge, BBQs till midnight, midges galore, an inflatable sofa and spiced rum & coke. Of course none of this would be any good unless you had a great bunch of friends to share it with!

Sunday morning dawned with one or two sore heads and more breeze than Saturday. Feeling once again nervous about the day's sailing we started off in circa 15-20 knots with waves, for the chain ferry... Once again no issues. So for us, we come screaming out of the harbour going about as fast as we can ever remember going only for a mighty bang, followed by Shawn calmly(!) telling me he had no steering. We realised quickly that whatever we'd hit (below the surface) had broken the downhaul on the rudder. We promptly capsized, to re-emerge facing Poole harbour... the remnants of the oncoming RS fleet (100s, 200s, 300s, 400s, 500s, 800s) all flying their kites approaching at speed...along with various other craft coming in and out of the harbour !

Unfortunately, our weekend was over – we crawled back to the club to pack away. Nevertheless, we had a great time once again. I have learnt a few lessons, and if you'll indulge me a little while longer, these are they:

  1. Make sure your boat is prepared – over the course of the weekend breakages cost us four races. Whether we'd have been able to do all four is questionable though!
  2. There will always be someone to race against, whatever your ability – don't deprive yourself of the chance to have a go
  3. Don't listen to scary stories about chain ferries and the like – it wasn't that bad in the end. Four successful crossings and not a near miss in sight (it really wasn't a killer chain ferry!)
  4. Even if you're a puddle sailor with limited experience (like me), at least once in your life, have a go on the sea. It's hard work, but with all that expanse of water, the wind and the waves. Even if you're in last place I guarantee you'll enjoy the reaches
  5. Value your friends – we had a great bunch with us at the Sprints in Rutland and again at the Southern Champs – this what really makes the weekend.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1414Jon GorringeNicola BassParkstone YC11121(DNS)6
2nd1418Howard FarbrotherDan MartinQMSC‑4231219
3rd1441Paul OakeyMark OakeyPortchester SC23‑433415
4th1407Jon HeissigNicky GriffinLlangorse SC3‑7254216
5th1290David BrownRebecca WittQMSC‑55545322
6th1189Steve RestallChris StubbsDowns SC6‑8686531
7th1439Kevin PodgerHeather ChipperfieldLymington Town SC‑94897735
8th1356Pete VincentPete CruickshankBristol Corinthian YC89‑1078638
9th1444Nick MartinCaroline MartinLee on Solent SC1010710‑12946
10th1393Nick ZammitNick ZammitLocks SC13111269(DNS)51
11th1296Howard EelesWayne HancoxBartley SC1213‑1811101056
12th1062Simon TownsendJack TownsendEmsworth SC‑1515131213861
13th1212Caroline WhitehouseJason McDonnellBartley SC111491611(DNS)61
14th1192Jack MunnellyLiam VassArun YC‑17161415151373
15th4Chris BrownJames BrownWeston SC‑18171717141176
16th1447John CooperBecci WigleyLymington Town SC7611(RTD)DNCDNC82
17th791Stuart CostiganBrett GrinnellParkstone YC2221‑2313171285
18th946Nick EavesTony SammonsBartley SC1624201416(DNS)90
19th1270James CutlerAlan GlanvilleBurghfield SC19‑222118181490
20th1051Matt SheahanEllie SheahanNetley SC141216(DNC)DNCDNC100
21st1287James BowmanJonathan CarrStarcross YC2425221920(DNS)110
22nd1019Rob CorfieldTom DobbsDell Quay SC2526242019(RTD)114
23rd846Richard HallAlicia AndrewsParkstone YC(DNS)DNFDNC212115115
24th701Martin PowellJane PhillippsParkstone YC212315(RTD)DNCDNC117
25th1357Chris GarveyJim GarveyParkstone YC231919(DNC)DNCDNC119
26th117Chris AppletonIzzy SavageBristol Corinthian YC2018(RTD)DNCDNCDNC125
27th1175Shawn WoodcockTony CliffBartley SC2720(DNF)DNCDNCDNC134
28th1328Steve PeatTom CarrStarcross YC262725(DNC)DNCDNC136

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