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RS100s at POSH: The Paignton Open for Single Handers

by Clive Eplett 15 May 16:08 BST 12-13 May 2018

The sun is shining. It's a lovely day. The breeze is light but sparkling the sea, We are going racing. There's zero chance of a swim, trashing sails, significant gear failure or a big crash. Launching and recovery will be a doddle.

So why is sailing in the light perhaps the most stressful racing of all?

Is it the possibility/likelihood that if you working yourself into a good position the wind will probably go AWOL on you, whilst the rest of the fleet sails by? Jammy devils. Or is it that everything happens in such slow motion, you can see a disaster looming but are (literally) powerless to do anything about it? It could even be that you work out (by bitter experience probably) which way to go up the course, only for the wind to shift, the poor OOD and team re-lay the course and you have to work it out/guess all over again.

Added to that, the mischiefs at Paignton SC running the always excellent POSH decided this year to give us 4 flights (slow-H, Blazes, RS100, fast-H), but have us all sail the same trapezoid course and then calculate overall handicap results. It's difficult enough trying to beat my compatriots in the RS100 fleet without also competing against a spreadsheet and 60-plus boats of other varieties starting at different times. So may I take this opportunity now to apologise to any Blaze sailors reading this, given that they likely spent much of the weekend muttering to themselves about [expletive-deleted] asymmetric sailors as we tried to carve our way past downwind, turbo-boosted by our extra sail.

Notwithstanding all that, POSH is an event in the RS100 travellers circuit, we were there to race each-other only and the take our chances with the spreadsheet hoo-ha, which was for us a side-show.

In race one, Greg Booth found himself (slow-motion) burned-off by first Jeremy Gilbert, then your correspondent as we split from the fleet, going right up the first beat. But Greg kept going after we tacked off and found himself with a good lead at mark one. Ultimately tho, last year's winner Ian Gregory ground us all down to take the bullet, Greg second and, with a sign of things to come, Steven Lee wriggling his way through the traffic up the last half-beat to the finish-gate better then Clive Eplett to steal third.

That was Greg's last visit to the podium in hardly his favourite conditions; I suspect he remembered his primary objective is always to beat David Smart, so he started looking backwards not forwards.

The next two races went to Steve, with Ian taking a 2nd and 4th and Clive two 3rds, the interloper being the half-the-man-he-was super-dieter that is Mark Harrison. I warned Steve that overnight leads are dangerous, given my own scars from the recent Sprints. If he prayed for no wind and an un-sailable Sunday, no one was listening. It dawned even brighter and more sparkly, with the flags fluttering encouragingly.

But teasingly too. In an echo of two years ago, your correspondent led the first lap of race 4 comfortably, only for the race to be canned. To be fair the wind did fill from virtually the opposite angle but why does it always pick on me?

But, perhaps in compensation, the finish order in the next one was Clive, Ian, Steve, Greg, Mark. This left Ian and Steve tied on points, with all to play for in the final race. Which turned out to be the lightest and most difficult of the day with the challenge being as much about negotiating other classes, particularly downwind, as the actually sailing-along bit. You did not want to be giving water (sorry 'room', showing my age) to 5 Blazes abreast; those things are wide.

The first lap was a three-way between Mark, Clive and Ian, the latter clearing the traffic better to build a comfortable lead. Clive got Mark downwind and somehow a where-did-he-come-from Steve found a parting-of-the-red-sea type opportunity at a gybe mark to get himself back in the mix. But it was too little, too late. Ian was gone, taking the bullet and the RS100 circuit event (for the second year running) by a point from Steve, with Clive third, Mark fourth and Greg fifth. Smartie, 6th, who seems delighted to be retiring in two weeks time, needs to spend some of his new leisure time practicing sailing, rather than falling off bicycles and otherwise injuring himself whilst at non-sailing sports.

Whether as compensation or adding insult to injury, in the overall POSH handicap results, Steve was 5th (then promoted to 3rd after a stewards enquiry on the initially published race one result) compared to Ian's 8th. Those 2 sailed consistently well in every race. Go figure. Ah, the vagaries of handicap racing, there in a nutshell.

Thanks go to Paignton SC for again running an excellent event, both on the water and ashore. But can we have a bit more wind, a bit less stress, next year please?

Next RS100 event is the Eurocup at Carnac, France, 26-29 May. It's a fabulous venue, great sailing and entry is still open. it's not too late therefore.

After that, it's the summer champs at Parkstone on 23-24 June and their new clubhouse to check out. Dear Parkstone YC, can you please persuade the legend that is Neal Freeman to come out to play?

Overall Results:

PosHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1stIan GregoryFrensham Pond 12‑4216
2ndSteven LeeRAFYC‑311327
3rdClive EplettFrensham Pond ‑4331310
4thMark HarrisonGurnard‑5425415
5thGreg BoothPort Dinorwic2564‑717
6thDavid SmartChew Valley Lake‑7776626
7thSteve JonesChew Valley Lake‑9959528
8thDaniel Craft ‑10687829
9thJeremy GilbertMounts Bay68‑1181133
10thMostyn EvansMounts Bay1110910‑1240
11thNick GriffinCastle Cove811‑12121041
12thFranco MarencoStarcross‑12121011942

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