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RS400s at the Ullswater Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy

by Hamish Gledhill 10 Jul 10:51 BST 7-8 July 2018
RS400s at the Ullswater Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy © Pauline Thompson

The record 35 RS400s that entered this year's Lord Birkett Trophy, had the benefit of two events in one as once again the two long distance races along the length of Ullswater held over two days counted towards the RS400 Northern Tour sponsored by Rope4Boats, who marked the record entry with a raffle on Saturday evening. More about that later.

The 35 RS400s joined the huge entry of 231 boats competing in event ranging from RS Fevas to VX Ones and a Cruiser fleet.

Light winds were forecast for the two days, and unfortunately on both days the forecast was right, with both races starting in drifting conditions, however, on both days as the race progressed along the length of the lake conditions changed and at times there was sufficient wind to ensure both sets of toe straps weren't unnecessary weight in the boat. The hot weather and sunshine meant sun cream and water was essential. I expect a few energy bars were consumed, but those that packed a chocolate bar were in for a messy surprise when unwrapped!

Race one on Saturday started with the fleet heading to the north end of the lake before rounding two marks and heading to the southern end before rounding a third mark and returning to the finish line. After a general recall the 190 strong fleet got away, with the 700m long start line spanning the width of the lake. Chris Pickles and Mark Lunn from Delph SC made the early running pursued by David Exley and Nigel Hall from Leigh and Lowton SC.

Stress levels were high from the off as at times you could only sit and watch the fleet on the opposite side take off (at a speed of a super charged snail) in more breeze, before they would hit the brakes whilst it was your turn to enjoy the exhilaration of a tiny zephyr. At the first mark boats from both ends of the line merged in the leading pack. As Pickles/Lunn and Exley/Hall led the RS400s, Stewart and Sarah Robertson from Royal Forth YC rounded next with Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse from West Riding SC in close pursuit.

As the fleet drifted up the lake, the Robertsons' were the first to react to a freshening breeze and took the lead up the left side of the lake. Exley/Hall followed suit with Pickles/Lunn and Gledhill/ Dowse battling up wind, to be joined by Mark Somerville and Joe Roberts from Bassenthwaite Sailing Club. As the fleet progressed back down the lake the Robertsons held their lead, whilst the fleet bunched up behind them, only for the cruellest of headers meaning they had to drop their spinnaker a few hundred yards from the finish line, allowing Exley/Hall through for the win and Gledhill/Dowse into second.

The Robertsons were third with Pickles/Lunn fourth and Somerville/Roberts fifth. The five boats crossed the line within 30 seconds of each other, resulting in top ten places in the overall standings overnight.

The next day dawned with a familiar glassy lake. After setting a course heading south, the OOD switched the course to head north with a repeat of the previous day's course. On the second attempt the fleet was off, and if the first day was stressful, this made day one look like a cosy cup of tea at Grandma's. Spinnakers went up and down, boats tacked and gybed and we hadn't made it 50 yards along the course. Some boats made it safely down the leg, but if you weren't clear you'd get engulfed by the pack including large vessels carrying 100s of square metres of limp sail preventing the chances of any wind reaching a tiny RS400.

Barry Thornton and Nick Hunt from Scaling Dam SC kept the calmest heads and rounded the first marks with a good lead ahead of locals Jon and Nicola Abbatt from Ullswater Yacht Club. Gledhill/Dowse rounded third ahead of Exley/Hall and the Robertsons.

Thornton and Hunt maintained their commanding lead to the top of the lake, which was now a beat, with enough wind to stretch your legs and start to fiddle with the kicker. Gledhill/Dowse, Exley/Hall and the Abbatts fought all the way upwind to round in that order. As the down wind leg unfolded the fleet once again bunched with Exley/Hall taking the lead in the last 100 yards. Thornton/Hunt were second with Gledhill/Dowse third and the Robertsons coming through to fourth. The results made Exley/Hall the Rs400 winners for the weekend, but they had to wait until the prize giving to find that they were crowned overall Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy Winners. This is their fourth win of the trophy. We wait with baited breath to hear how they enjoy their first prize, room for two at the luxury Sharrow Bay Hotel.

Rope4Boats, who are sponsoring the northern tour, generously ran a special raffle for the Saturday evening in recognition of the great RS400 turnout. Prizes including tapered spinnaker sheets, a rigging kit and several vouchers were distributed amongst the winners, Jeremy Child from Scammonden, Lester Mulligan from Yorkshire Dales, Peter Dyer from Yorkshire Dales and Henry Barnes from Staunton Harold SC.

RS400 Results:

RS400 RankBirket RankSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2Pts
111460EXLEY DaveNige HallLeigh & Lowton Sailing Club4812
231407GLEDHILL HamishSimon DowseWest Riding51116
361437THORNTON BarrieNick HuntScaling Dam Sailiing Club13922
471463ROBERTSON StewartSarah RobertsonRoyal Forth Yacht Club61824
591283PICKLES ChrisMark Lunn 72128
6121467RIDGWAY PaulDawsonSandringham Yacht Club162238
7131484SOMERVILLE MarkJoe RobertsBassenthwaite Sailing Club832.540.5
8261112ABBATT JonNicola AbbattUllswater Yacht Club542074
9381395LEONARD AlexBen MurrellBass SC / Yorkshire Dales SC295988
1041595WHITEHEAD CarlCarol MilnerFiley Sailing Club148296
11791155HOLT NickDerek HillLeigh & Lowton Sailing Club48113161
12901277TULLETT GrahamNatasha ListerRoyal Windermere Yacht Club9883181
1398830POSFORD CliveAndrew DaveyGlossop Sailing Club102108210
141031054ROBINSON PhilipPaul WIlsonFiley Sailing Club92134226
15104725RIBY JasonLaura BellSouth Shields Sailing Club96130226
161061073ROGERS JamieNeil McLaren 97133230
171151024KINDON NickPaul MunroStaunton Harold Sailing Club100147247
181181265DAVIES ColinTBCAberdeen And Stonehaven Yacht Club151104255
191271454HEISSIG JonNicky GriffinLlangorse SCDNS32.5265.5
20128973GEBHARD DavidjackieTynemouth Sailing ClubDNS35.5268.5
21131550LEIPER MurrayCeri KnapgateCarsington Sailing Club114159273
221331233VON POSERN StephanSimon EdwardsQMSC119157276
231351041BARNES HenryGrahame SmithStaunton Harold Sailing Club164114278
24141599LECKIE TomGary CoopLeigh & Lowton Sailing Club157138295
251421016TOWER RichardPaul HickmanCarsington Sailing Club156140296
26148534MCCORMACK NeilHeather McCormackScaling Dam Sailiing Club163144307
27165750TURRELL IanTBCScammonden Water Sailing Club101DNS334
281681319ROBERTSON BenJenny DouglasDalgety Bay103DNF336
29180963GEBHARD JoricBethany MaryTynemouth Sailing ClubDNS137370
301861248DYER PeterLaura BurrowsYorkshire Dales Sailing ClubDSQ155388
311871133MULLIGAN LesterJez InceYorkshire Dales Sailing Club155DNS388
321891417WINGROVE SteveAshley WingrovePorthpean SC167DNF400
331911282HARRIES CliveCallum EscritYorkshire Dales Sailing ClubDNSDNF466
341911157MURRAY PhilNeil SchofieldTynemouth Sailing ClubDNFDNS466
35191924WEBSTER AndrewHannah WebsterUllswater Yacht ClubDNFDNS466

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