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RS800 Volvo Noble Marine National Championship - Runners and Riders

by Chris Feibusch 8 Sep 2017 13:36 BST 21-24 September 2017
RS800 fleet enjoy a stunning day © Alex & David Irwin /

With the 2017 RS800 Volvo Noble Marine National Championships just around the corner, taking place at Stokes Bay SC from 21st to 24th September, it's time to take a look at this year's runners and riders and check out the form sheet.

The RS800 is on a high at the moment with a number of new teams attracted to the class with the option now of crew / boom sheeting, which has also seen the return of few teams from the past. Chuck in a few pros, Olympians, Multiple World, European and National Champions and it should make for a competitive and fun event.

So here goes...

  • Luke and Emma McEwen
    By far and away the form boat for the last two seasons, having won every single event that they've competed in, "Team Gul" are firm favourites to retain the title. Terrifyingly these two are not content with total domination and are still on a relentless mission of self-improvement; training, reading and practising at every opportunity. Their ability to consistently sail faster and smarter than anyone else has caused some in the fleet to question whether they are, in fact, human or actually androids. The only hope for the rest of the field is if some moisture finds its way in and short-circuits their complex electronic systems.

  • Phil Walker and John Mather
    Still regarded as the 'kids' of the fleet, not because of how old they are, but their tendency to hang out with 29er sailors instead of people of their own age. Having been quick right from the word go, consistency has improved considerably and are now a serious threat at the front, as demonstrated by their 3rd at the Europeans in Medemblik. The consistency has come partly from being more comfortable with John taking the mainsheet upwind, but it is probably more to do with actually making it to the start line even after a big night out, unlike in those early days. Perhaps they are growing up after all.

  • Dan Goodman and Debbie Robertshaw
    What a year these two have had and Debbie has the scars to prove it. One of the only teams to take a race off Luke and Emma all year at the Europeans in Medemblik, not once, but twice. With an upgraded boat and a fearless and fast-learning crew at the front, these two are a match for anyone on the day. If it's windy expect bloodshed and bruises combined with endless positivity and undampened spirits. Oh and there will be dancing.

  • Andy and Ally Jeffries
    Andy is in full mid-life crisis mode, having just competed at the Moth Worlds in Garda after only 8 outings in one prior to the event, leaving him wanting more despite the horrific bruises. The main priority is the RS800, however, having committed to a new 'Whyte Bikes' sponsored boat earlier in the year and going very quickly in it all season. This pair will be hoping for big breezes at Stokes with Ally 'the Gnarlier the Better' Jeffries showing no signs of slowing down in the front of the boat and always thriving the more challenging the conditions become. Consistently in the chocolates, maybe this is finally their year to take the title. Took a race off the McEwens during their most recent battle.

  • Pete Barton and Chris Feibusch
    Assuming Pete hasn't completely forgotten how to trapeze after campaigning his RS Aero all year and Chris can remember what to do at the front of the boat, these two still fancy their chances if the breeze is up. Lack of time in the boat recently and issues with pace in light airs will be the Achilles heel for this team. This creaky old pair will certainly want their Masters titles back from the Jeffries at the very least.

  • Graham and Jeremy Williamson
    Father and son team new to the class and on a steep learning curve. They have the benefit of Jeremy having been a top 29er crew and very comfortable taking the mainsheet upwind. A case of an old dog learning new tricks having spent years as a top helm and crew in the Merlin Rocket class, Graham is rapidly getting to grips with this new-fangled trapezing idea. They have shown real pace and poise at times, but are prone to binning it at crucial moments. This is all part of a typical and well documented process of a first season sailing an RS800. Make no mistake, they are learning fast and will be consistently challenging at the front very soon.

  • Hugh Shone and Hannah Tattersall
    A very welcome return to the class for this popular pair of hotshots. Out of the class for nearly two years, these two will be hoping to pick up where they left off, which was a 4th place at 2015 Championships. Certain to be challenging at the front, will the break have done them good or will they be scuppered by lack of time in the boat?

  • Ella and James Morland
    Small, but mighty, Ella is a seriously quick and tactically astute helm and with Superman James doing all the work at the front including taking the mainsheet upwind these days, these two make a formidable team. Finishing 2nd at the Stokes Bay Magic Marine Grand Prix event earlier in the year and back at the same venue for this event, they could certainly take the fight to the McEwens. Unstoppable on the dance floor too, these two will be battling it out with the 'Kids' for the title of 'Social Animals of the Week'.

  • Becky Diamond and Sophie Porteous
    All female pairing and ex 29er hotshots, Becky and Sophie, will be undoubtedly be sniffing around the front end of the fleet. As their boat handling improves and their ability in the corners begins to match their straight line speed we can expect these two start firing in some results, particularly in the light to medium stuff.

  • James Green and James Date
    Two James making a return to the class. After a short break to move house and focus on the family business, Jimmy Green Marine in Beer, is James 'Jimmy the 2nd' Green. Before the break, along with crew Jamie Trewick, James had completed the obligatory 'capsizing and crashing' apprenticeship and had started to show some real, consistent pace. With Jamie's bodybuilding obsession making him too heavy for the front of an RS800 these days, James is taking no chances and has enlisted the help of former national champion, James Date. Clearly the name James was main criteria for this recruitment. The only question now is which one is going to be steering?

  • Paul Jenkins and Colin Hatton
    A consistent front runner, usually with his human lever son, Peter, Paul is once again teaming up with Colin Hatton. They have vast amounts of experience on this boat that could and should be converted into consistency on the race course. It probably won't, though unless the whole event is sailed in survival conditions.

  • Ralph and Sophie Singleton
    This mild mannered father and daughter team that have no problems getting the bit between their teeth as soon as they're on the race course. With her 'butter-wouldn't-melt in-the-mouth' demeanour ashore, Sophie is another one that thrives as the conditions become more challenging. They were serious contenders at the Nationals last year before they were subject to a collision. With the highly experienced and skilled hand of her father at the back, these two have been steadily improving in recent months with two podium finishes on the Magic Marine Grand Prix circuit already this year. Certainly ones to watch out for especially since they took a race off the McEwens at Lyme.

  • Tim Gratton / Fiona Hampshire
    Ex RS Feva and 29er National Champion and 49er squaddie, Tim Gratton, has been snapped up by Fiona Hampshire, herself a past RS800 National Champion when partnered with Tim Saxton. Clearly only comfortable sailing with people called Tim, with that kind of pedigree this pair can certainly count themselves amongst the genuine title contenders.

  • Cameron and Darrol Moss
    Son and father team from Lyme Regis, still on a high from hosting their first RS800 event at their home club and loving every minute of sailing the boat. These two are improving rapidly and spending less time swimming and more time sailing fast. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their positive energy is great to have around on and off the water. Whatever happens, they'll be smiling.

  • Steve and Sarah Cockerill
    Where to start with this one? Multiple dinghy World (RS Aero 2017), European and National Champion, Steve is more commonly associated with hiking boats that go slower than the waves. There are very few people quicker in the world in that type of boat than the 'Boat Whisperer'. Steve is sailing with wife Sarah, and both are riding high after a successful Summer of team work winning both the 2000 National Championship and the 4000 European Championship. This is another team on a steep learning curve in a boat that goes faster than the waves and requires the helm to trapeze. Only a fool would write sailors of this calibre off though and they are sailing on home waters. Prepare for some established feathers to be ruffled.

  • Dan Kilsby and Bart Bridgen
    Another re-formed team returning to the class for a crack at the title. Top performers a few years ago, have this pair still got what it takes? Lack of pre-event practice will probably see their results improve as the event progresses. Anyway a welcome return and expected to be well in the mix.

Others to watch out for:

  • Frances Peters and Tom Partington
    Another very welcome return to the class for Frances, sailing with rock star International 14 crew and boyfriend Tom. Unfortunately only able to take part for two days over the weekend, these two won't be competing for the title. However, this pair have talent and ability in abundance and will undoubtedly be right in the mix. Already looking very comfortable in the boat and exuding class; if there's a prize for style and looking cool these two would be right up there.

  • Chris Rashley and Billy Vennis-Ozanne
    Rockstar Mothie turned Olympic foiling Nacra 17 sailor is rumoured to be teaming up with top 29er crew Billy Vennis-Ozanne. If they do show up, never underestimate a pro and an eager ferret.

    Find all the information on the RS800 Nationals at

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