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Illuminis RS Vareo Open at Milton Keynes Sailing Club

by Paul North 15 Jun 2018 19:57 BST 9-10 June 2018
Four spinnakers closer - Illuminis RS Vareo Open © Milton Keynes Sailing Club

Last weekend saw the second running of the RS Vareo Open at Milton Keynes Sailing club sponsored by Illuminis Insight Software. Just three sailors travelled to the event to join the two locals (sadly Howard could only make day two). In light and variable winds those competing enjoyed a great weekend.

Once again Bob Austin took the reigns as Race Officer and with the light winds in the opposite direction to last year was able to set a windward-leeward course down the length of Caldecotte Lake. The windward mark and spreader were in a particularly interesting place where shifts and channels demanded quick course changes to make the most of what came our way.

In race one Luke Fisher found his way to the windward mark first, followed by Nick Crickmore and Cheryl Wood with Paul North bringing up the rear. The positions remained unchanged until Paul got past Cheryl on the last downwind leg.

In race two Luke once again got well ahead of the fleet with Cheryl and Nick trading second and third back and forth. At one point Paul was a whole leg behind but caught a channel right up the middle of the course to come back into the rest of the fleet and just passing Nick to take third behind Cheryl.

The fleet came ashore for an excellent lunch provided by the Illuminis shore team of Moira, Lu and Marian.

Back on the water for another good start from Luke in race three saw him leading after lap one but he then sailed into a hole while Paul found another channel and sailed from third to first on lap two only to see a reverse of his fortunes in lap three ending up fourth. Meanwhile Cheryl found her own channel close to the clubhouse and took the honours, Nick second, Luke third.

The final race on Saturday saw Nick get a good start and lead at the end of lap one from Nick then Paul. Luke found some speed to pick up the lead while the "Cheryl Channel" disappeared and on the other side of the course Paul steadily improved. On the final beat Paul just sneaked past Nick to take second behind Luke.

After packing the boats for the night the competitors enjoyed a BBQ and a beer or too while sharing stories of the day and looking back at video of last year's event.

Sunday morning saw another beautiful day but again with light NE winds. Bob moved the windward mark out from the shadow of the island, otherwise the course remained unchanged. Howard Astley-Jones joined the fleet and was to prove what a master he is in light conditions.

Race five saw Howard lead from start to finish followed by Luke then Nick. Paul found the part of the course with no wind at all and was lapped by Howard and Luke.

In race six Luke got ahead of Howard but on lap three Howard found the lift up the right side of the course and maintained his lead to the end. A rather late blast for the course shortening left Nick a long way from the finishing line and allowed Paul to dive for the line taking third.

For the last race of the meeting the RS Vareos joined the club one hour pursuit race starting 26 seconds after the lasers. Howard first, then Luke, then Nick.

A valiant effort from Howard winning all of the Sunday races was not enough to put him in the prizes which went to Luke first, Nick second, Paul third, and Cheryl fourth. Paul won the limited edition Rooster national tour neck gaiter.

At the prize giving Luke thanked MKSC and Illuminis for putting on a great weekend. We look forward to returning next year.

The next major event is the RS Vareo National Championship at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy 23 – 25 August as part of the RS Games.

We will see if Howard can repeat his impressive performance against the current National and Inlands champions there!

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