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Rooster RS300 Inland Championship at Alton Water Sports Centre

by Paul Watson 25 Oct 2018 13:06 BST 20-21 October 2018
RS300 Inlands at Alton Water © Dave Hearsum

Alton Water SC played host to this year's RS300 Rooster Inland Championship as the fleet, mostly undeterred by the forecast, travelled East to what would turn out to be a slightly more than the 3 knots forecast but still as shifty as a shifty place breeze.

After a short postponement, race one started with that familiar sound of a second blast of the horn following the start signal. The whole fleet had been pushing the line but it was Paul Watson, who had taken it upon himself to attempt a port tack flyer, who arrived a boat length or two early. The rest of the fleet were busy trying to work out what on earth the wind was doing while the sneaky locals hit the right and showed us the way to go.

As the race progressed it was local hero Oli Harris who managed to limit the damage that the shifts were making to sail away and take the win from Ian Hearsum with Paul recovering (getting lucky) to come in 3rd.

Race two started in a similar way to race one but this time with most of the fleet over the line giving everyone a chance to have another go at it. The second attempt was slightly cleaner, ignoring a small pile up at the boat end, but with Paul still determined to get off on port he ducked the fleet and went back to his usual tactics of banging a corner. At the top mark it was Steve Sallis who had negotiated the beat the best with Richard Hargreaves on his transom, and then Paul and David Houghton following shortly behind. By the end of the first lap it was Paul who had managed to squeeze into the lead, which after another couple of laps of very close racing with David and Steve, he held on to the finish.

With the third of Saturday's race looking like it was likely to get a bit flukier the fleet headed for early showers, cake (Thank you Sarah) and the promise of beer, only to find out that the pub wasn't open until 6pm!

Day two dawned and the fleet awoke, having been woken several times already by a certain someone's car alarm, to a completely windless lake. Not to worry, we had surfaced before the Phantom fleet so headed to the café for bacon and coffee and watched while the wind filled into to cover the lake just in time for the 11am start time.

The day started in a similar way to day one with the locals showing the rest of us the way round the course. This time it was Bob Peak who held on from Oli and a charging Ben Heppenstall who was showing some great skill and boat speed to finish third.

Race four was a clash of tour regulars Paul and Richard Hargreaves, both sailing well to put a small gap between themselves and the fleet. Rich should have had it in the bag but a slightly wide mark rounding and an inconvenient header allowed Paul through for his second win of the regatta. I'm not sure if it was luck on my side or simply payback for the car alarm disco Rich had provided overnight. Ian rounded out the podium adding another useful result to his fairly consistent score line.

With the wind now swinging all over the place the course was reset slightly right for the final two races of the day. Race five got underway cleanly with Rob Ford showing his face at the front of the fleet. After a couple of laps of close racing between Rob and Paul the wind swung back slightly left giving Ben, who spotted it first, an absolute stormer of a 'beat' to take the lead which he held to the finish. Rob managed to just about hold on to second, Steve claiming the final podium spot. Paul who had been taking his usual conservative up the middle approach... just recovered enough to take 5th behind Richard Fryer.

Going into the final race the wind continued to move left. By the time the gun went the fleet were struggling to cross the line on starboard. Steve managed to tack off first and sailed in clean air to give himself a little lead at the first mark. Ben and David also came out well with most of the rest of us floundering around unsure what was going on. By the end of the first run these three had widened the gap to the rest of us and were busy having a tight battle for the win, with Ian sailing round in the middle and Jamie Freeman swimming round his boat deciding to call it a day. By the end of the third lap Paul was so far back he was starting to fear being lapped so also hit the showers early. By the end Steve held on to the win (5th different race winner of the weekend), David 2nd, Ben another good result in 3rd and Ian rounding off a good regatta in 4th.

With the scores now added up it was Paul Watson who sailed the most consistently to be named RS300 Inland Champion, with Steve Sallis 2nd and Ian Hearsum 3rd, both on equal points.

Thanks to Alton Water Sports Centre for putting on a fantastic event in challenging conditions and thanks for RS300 National Tour sponsors Rooster for the prizes and continued support.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1P Watson528BOWMOOR SC31415(DNF)14
2Steve Sallis476HYKEHAM SC636‑83119
3Ian Hearsum438HBSC24‑1136419
4Ben Hoppenstall395WHITEFRIARS SC‑1210391326
5Richard Fryer424GY&GSC86‑1244527
6David Houghton433GY&GSC‑1028107229
7R Hargreave373STEWARTBY SC75‑1028729
8Rob Ford351AWSC9‑11762630
9Oli Harris546AWSC1‑1221211834
10Jamie Freeman444GY&GSC595710(DNF)36
11Bob Peak352AWSC‑1171119937
12Pete Ellis500STEWARTBY SC4895(DNF)DNC40
13Cheryl Wood339PENNINE SC1313131312(DNF)64

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