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RS600 Rooster National tour at Northampton Sailing Club

by Alice Crick 22 May 20:46 BST
RS600 Rooster National tour at Northampton © Debbie Montague

Wacky races with new and old faces

Northampton SC made a welcome return to the Rooster National tour, RS600 calendar to open this year's account. The fifteen sailors who made their way, despite a poor forecast, and with hope of some good racing to start the season were not disappointed. The fleet welcomed new faces aplenty, with seemingly all of the P&B team deciding to buy boats en masse and a very welcome return to Northampton's local RS600 pro.

The race team had their work cut out with half the reservoir hosting a Topper event, and a breeze that wouldn't sit still for a second.

Race one introduced everyone to the first theme of the day: Chunky back at the front of the fleet. Though he did lose the lead for a few moments to some of the chasing pack, he made the best of the shifts and dodged the largest of the holes. The final positions were shuffled by a four-boat pile-up demolition derby, instigated by one of the fleet's aforementioned new recruits. Ian Marshall and Richard Smith were the biggest winners, dodging the pile up, while others weren't so lucky.

Race two continued as per the theme set in the first. Chunky held off challenges from Ian Marshall, Fresh Abendstern and George Smith, all of whom had a moment in the sun at the pointy end of the fleet. Second to fourth was a photo finish, tacking duel from the leeward mark. Alistair Farman shook off his new baby fatigue to round out the top five.

Race three was by far and away the most wacky. The fleet watched as the race committee battled with a fickle breeze, having abandoned the Canoe's race to an enormous wind shift. By the start things looked to have settled but as the gun went so the breeze gave out and the fleet drifted off seemingly at all angles of sail.

It was Isaac Marsh's time to be a fly weight hero, trapezing when others were clinging to the mast barely making headway. The wind filled in down the run and turned the drift back into a plane. Few made it safely round without finding the pitfalls and wind holes that punctuated the first three races. The locals Isaac and Chunky had a healthy lead on the rest, Isaac's win ensuring that he would no longer receive any training from Chunky!

Special mention goes more new faces: Ben Latham, who sailed brilliantly to finish fourth, and Steve Graham in sixth, who started the day with fear in his eyes at the prospect of getting round the course.

The final race was blessed with a solid (enough) force 3, which saw much carnage pre-start for those only just comfortable in the lighter breeze of the morning. The frowns of those who had fallen foul of too many wind holes were transformed as the fleet planed off the line breathing a sigh of relief.

Ian Marshall again sailing well made the best of the first beat but was hounded by Smith and Smith as they continued to chase each other around the race course (as they had done all winter). Ian had to settle for third but did enough to secure second overall, Chunky had done enough earlier in the day that first was safe and George rounded off the day with a win to finish third.

Northampton SC were impeccable hosts for the evening, with Mrs York not only running the sign on, race officering and also parenting, kept the fleet in beers behind the bar too. With the prospect of little wind in the morning, many took the opportunity of an early curry and the well-stocked bar, followed camping on site.

A slow morning for the fleet started with a bacon sandwich, followed by an AP, followed by a sensible call from the race officer to abandon the day in view of early prizes and home.

Massive thanks go to Northampton SC for their hospitality, excellent race management and all-round good weekend in spite of only one day of sailing. Thanks to the fleet sponsors for generous prizes. It was great to see not just so many new faces, but plenty who were pushing the front of the fleet out of the way to get there themselves. This season is shaping up to be another good one, next up Lymington and onto the Nationals after that, which promises to be the biggest for many years.

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