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Lizard 2020 - LEADERBOARD

RS400 Southern Tour at Emsworth Sailing Club

by Matt Sheahan 4 Sep 2016 14:30 BST 3 September 2016

It may have been a last minute change, but replacing the 2ndhanddinghies.com Rooster Southern Tour Locks SC event with a trip to Emsworth Sailing Club to join in with their annual regatta was a big success. The immaculate and supremely organised club, (where it was said that the ratio of volunteers to the 100 or so competitors was 1:1), welcomed the 400 travellers to their one day, one race event in Chichester Harbour.

A total of thirteen 400s made for a class start within the fast handicap fleet. In a change from the windward leeward style racing that we're used to, the 11 mile course formed a trip around Chichester Harbour in 12-15 knots of breeze.

After a challenging and crowded pre-start that felt more like a Guinness Book of Records attempt to fit the biggest number of boats into a small stretch of water strewn with the widest range of obstacles from moored boats, mooring buoys, shallows, navigation marks and posts, the race kicked off with a long beat down the Emsworth Channel towards the large sailing area within the harbour off Hayling Island sailing club.

From there and with legs and biceps burning from the 20 minute starboard tack south, we bore away for a lively, full hike, bum drenching three sail reach across the harbour before beating back to the west for another triangular lap of the harbour. Once complete, the ride home to the finish line off Emsworth Sailing Club was a perfect, high speed, flat water A-sail blast.

During the two hour race Paul and Mark Oakey did their usual disappearing trick off the front of the fleet raising questions as to whether they just don't like playing with friends on the race course.

In hot pursuit, Mark Mansfield and Mike Thompson (496) from Emsworth Slipper SC and Matt Fowler and Greg Shipley (684) from Pevensey Bay SC were both out to prove that a three figure sail number is just as quick as a new boat in the right hands. Just what Matt and Ellie Sheahan wanted to hear (not) as they chased hard in 1435 to finish fourth.

Once ashore and included in the £15 entry fee, the entire fleet was provided with a hot buffet of sausage rolls and baguettes and chips along with a selection of cakes to rival the Great British Bake Off. I don't normally mention the food in a regatta report, but this was exceptional as was the club's hospitality and appeared to dispel the myth about free lunches.

But there was more to mull over on the way home. Not only did Emsworth SC provide a well run event, but their neighbours Emsworth Slipper SC run their own regatta the following day in which they hold a series of back to back, short course races closer to the club. Combining the two for the 400s could provide a weekend of racing at two of the most elegant and well serviced clubs on the South Coast in one of the prettiest harbours around.

Food for thought for next year? At the very least, the short courses on Day 2 might keep the Hobbits in sight and allow us to find out what makes them so quick.

Overall Results: (top 3)

1st Paul Oakey & Mark Oakey (Portchester)
2nd Mark Mansfield & Mike Thompson (ESSC)
3rd Matt Fowler & Greg Shipley (Pevensey Bay)

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