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Volvo Noble Marine RS800 Nationals supported by Hyde Sails at Eastbourne Sovereign SC - Days 3 & 4

by Tom Partington & Emma McEwen 11 Sep 12:54 BST 5-8 September 2019

Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club survived an invasion of Power Rangers for the "Back to 1999" party on Friday evening. The Millennium Dome arrived with a cassette tape.

A toddler had to show his ID at the bar to get served. Prince was rumoured to be signing autographs on the dance floor?! But it was Neo from "The Matrix" aka new Class Chair Dan Goodman who triumphed by being the lucky winner of the Hyde Sails spinnaker raffle winning a brand new spinnaker. Thank you Hyde Sails!

Day three of the RS800 Volvo Noble Marine UK National Championships was always going to be the day to win, as more teams joined us for today's special 20th Anniversary Reunion Regatta.

We are delighted that Harken UK have sponsored not only the daily prizes but also the RS800 Reunion Regatta. Many people were very keen to get their mitts on a pair of the highly desirable Harken Red Carbo Ratchamatic blocks by clinching a race win today...

The Reunion Regatta was part of this year's special 20th Anniversary celebrations and consisted of today's three championship races, creating a mini-series with two races to count. As the intended purpose of the event was to entice some old RS800 sailors back into a boat again after a number of years' absence, a handicap system was devised to mix things up a bit. So each team must count up to 20 extra points, in addition to their two best race results, determined by how many years it's been since they last raced in an RS800 UK National Championship. Surely this must have levelled the playing field for those whose RS800 days were but a distant happy memory until today; true performance equalisation!

To encourage sailors on more of a budget to come and join in the RS800 circuit racing, Spinlock approached the class at the Dinghy Show earlier this year and suggested they sponsor an award to go to the first original-style-deck boat sailing with a pin-top main. The fabulous Spinlock 1999 Award was for a pair of Aero Pro PFDs as worn by TEAM INEOS and was being awarded to the top boat in this category from today's Reunion Regatta.

"With the awareness of plastic waste and pollution in the world, it's important we do as much as possible to repair and reuse older sails and hulls. We are really pleased to support the original RS800 hulls and pin top mainsails at the 2019 Nationals with the "Spinlock 1999 Award" during the Reunion Regatta. " explained RS800 sailor Ash Holmes from Spinlock.

So a smattering of sore heads emerged for a three race day in an 8 - 15 knot North Easterly forecast. After a serious case of over enthusiasm and then a significant shift delaying the first start, the 47 boat strong fleet got away cleanly for the first race an hour behind schedule under a black flag.

Stevie Wilson and Harvey Hillary, and Rory Hunter and Steph Orton powered out of the start, closely chased by Team Partington. Change was afoot; at the windward mark Stevie was pulled for being over the line and Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore, who had robbed a Hayling Island Sailing Club RS800 for a mast last night, started to show their form from last year to lead. By the leeward mark Luke and Emma McEwen had stormed into the lead followed by Fiona Hampshire and Tim Gratton then Rory and Steph.

In the second race Stevie and Harvey powered into the lead up the beat only to be overhauled by Rory and Steph on the first run. Rory and Steph held on tight to take their first win of the regatta.

By the last race the breeze had built to a solid 15 knots and it was Luke and Emma who made the best of it for a start-to-finish victory. Tom and Guy closed out an impressively consistent day with a second place and James Penty and Eddie Grayson rediscovered their Garda boat speed to take third place.

Overall it was a cracking day of extremely close racing throughout the fleet with the 20th Anniversary Dinner to look forward to this evening. We are excited that Phil Morrison, designer of our awesome boat, is guest of honour. The Eastbourne SSC committee have put a huge effort and masses of enthusiasm into tonight's event and it promises to be really special.

Before then we will be treated to a glass or two of lovely wine from Sea Change Wines who we are delighted are sponsoring this party.

Day 4

The final day of the 20th Anniversary RS800 UK National Championship: more sunshine, lighter breeze and a slightly earlier start to try to beat the afternoon forecast drop in wind.

A few might have woken up this morning and been quickly reminded that today's racing was generously sponsored by Sea Change Wine... certainly everyone enjoyed sampling their fine products happily before last night's Anniversary Dinner!

The fleet did an amazing job of transforming themselves from salty neoprene-clad dinghy sailors to glamorous diners for the black tie dinner at the neighbouring Beach Deck restaurant last night. Perhaps a few were regretting packing a short dress but it did make it easier to compare number of bruises acquired on Friday...

Phil Morrison charmed us all with his reminiscing on the days of the RS800 design and development and even penned us a poem. Sadly Nick Peters couldn't be at the event but luckily his daughter Frances was and she read out his words to us; it was great to find out more about his vision and how the RS800 came to be, 20 years ago.

The prize giving for yesterday's Reunion Regatta was held at the dinner and the hotly contested day's prizes from Harken UK and Spinlock were dished out...

The three race winner prizes (a pair of highly desirable Harken Red Carbo Ratchamatic blocks) went to:

  • Race 1: Luke and Emma McEwen
  • Race 2: Rory Hunter and Steph Orton
  • Race 3: Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore
The strategically finishing 20th place winners collecting Harken vouchers were:
  • Race 1: Dan Goodman and Debbie Clark
  • Race 2: Tim Gratton and Fiona Hampshire
  • Race 3: Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright
Special mention and Harken prizes went to:
  • The oldest boat racing: 834 sailed by Chris Matthews and Ali Hinds
  • The most veteran team: Roger & Chris Plail with an impressive combined age of 126
  • The sailor who has competed in the most Nationals: Andy Jeffries with a staggering 16!
  • The sailor who attended the earliest Nationals: Paul Jenkins in 1999
Once the handicap Reunion points had been added to the scores, the winners of yesterday's Reunion Regatta were:
  • 1st: Luke and Emma McEwen
  • 2nd: Rory Hunter and Steph Orton
  • 3rd: Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore
And the first original-deck boat sailing with a pin head main, receiving the Spinlock 1999 award, was 925 sailed by Simon Jenkins and James Arnott, incidentally runners-up in the Most Veteran Team award, making a comeback in the boat they've had from new after a 9-year break.

It was great to see so many sailors back to join the party and some seemed surprisingly reluctant to leave as the boom of doom made its appearance in the club for the third night in a row, keeping the bar buzzing until 2am!

Departure from the beach was fairly leisurely as many rightly predicted a tricky day of offshore breeze with some brain-frying shifts and holes in the wind. The scheduled two races had been upped to three in the hope to recover the one lost on Friday.

Based on Thursday's racing in similar conditions, the smart money might have been on the left side of the beat but that was never going to be a given. The race committee faced the challenge of setting the line square and the windward mark approximately to windward as some big shifts came through. The black flag was ominously hoisted.

The first race started in a fresh force four but up the second beat it began to drop. Keeping the boat moving in the variable breeze and sea chop was imperative and keeping your head while stuck in a hole was challenging! The win was taken by Rob Gullan and Callum Healey, with Dan Goodman and Debbie Clark close on their heels sailing a fantastic race to get their best result of the championship. Overnight leaders Luke and Emma McEwen were very happy to follow them in third while keeping an eye on where challengers Rory Hunter and Steph Orton were on the race course. James Date and James Green showed their old skills were returning as they secured 4th place.

As the second discard came in to play, a bit of mental maths was required to work out the standings and what was left to gain or lose...

The second race took a number of attempts to get away, during which a few boats were lost to the dreaded black flag. The wind was getting flakier by now and the third race of the day potentially unlikely, so all was to play for with this one. Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore showed their true form after a disappointing start to the championship (involving a collision and holing and then a broken mast) by leading at the windward mark after a slow and difficult beat. They then managed to impressively defend against all comers on the downwind as the fleet split; banging right and left lay-lines to everywhere in between.

James Penty and Eddie Grayson had another good start but suffered on the run and Luke and Emma focussed on staying between Rory and Steph and the leeward mark. As the wind dropped, the race team shortened the race to just one lap and as boats converged at the leeward mark there were opportunities to scramble a place or two back in the final gybes to the finish line.

With Tom and Guy finishing on a high in first, Ralph and Sophie Singleton used their superior pond skills wisely to move up to take 2nd with Ben Palmer and Amy Seabright in 3rd. Behind them both Paddy Gamble and Fiona Collins and Alex Benfield and Nick Ireland sailed a great race to get their best results of the championship.

The wind fizzled to sub-five knots as the final boats finished and it didn't take long for the race committee to fly N over A and send us all (very slowly) home. Plenty of time to reflect on a fantastic championship, sailed in not typical Eastbourne conditions but each day providing different and challenging racing from light and shifty to invigoratingly boisterous and some perfect nip-and-tuck adrenalin-fuelled racing in between.

So at the end of the day, Luke and Emma did enough to maintain their position at the top and regained the National Champions title they previously held in 2016, to their utter astonishment. They had come to the event solely with the hope that Emma would be able to sail after sustaining an injury back in June, with the one wish to be on the water and enjoying the sailing. A test sail on Wednesday had been terrifying for Emma but, when survived; reassuring that it was possible to race. Perhaps zero self-pressure and happy vibes were the magic required for a winning formula. And nice to know when you reach the 'master' category milestone that there is still all to play for!

Rory and Steph sailed fast and intelligently to improve on last year's third place, finishing in second - undoubtedly ones to watch for the title next year. And Rob and Callum sailed consistently to complete the podium showing their improvement event on event.

Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club put on a fantastic championship with such attention to detail. The members volunteering in the galley, on the beach, in the rescue boats, on the committee boat and behind the bar (250 G&Ts served at latest estimate!) were always smiling and welcoming. The drone footage and photographs all taken by members captured some epic (and comedy) moments on the water. From the awesome socials to the hard-fought and well run racing; their effort, enthusiasm and energy all paid off. The RS800 sailors have been treated to a very special event - thank you everyone at ESSC!

The class would also like to thank Clare Sargent, our wonderful secretary, for her massive amount of hard work in the lead up to this event and for enabling us to go out racing while she masterminds everything on shore. We are very lucky to have her!

A HUGE thanks from the RS800 fleet to our headline long-term sponsors who keep our wonderful class association ticking year on year - Volvo and Noble Marine. We couldn't do it without you!

And to this year's amazing daily sponsors for their generous donations of prizes for all race winners and 20th place finishers - Rooster Sailing (days one and two) and Harken UK (day three) - there have been a lot of very happy sailors collecting their prizes each day.

Thank you to both Harken UK and Spinlock for your enthusiastic support of Saturday's celebratory Reunion Regatta.

And thank you to Hyde Sails for their awesome giveaway of a new RS800 spinnaker to super-lucky prize-draw winner, our new Class Chairman, Dan Goodman. The rest of the fleet will have to watch out as they're now going to be whizzing past us downwind!

Massive thumbs up to Rooster for developing the cool Joey Bottle Holders we all now have securely strapped to our RS800s ensuring our water bottles remain with us and never, unintentionally end up in the sea. Friday's sailing certainly put them through rigorous product testing!

And to RS Sailing for really helping us party like it's 1999 with free beers when we hit the beach after racing and giving us all the tunes from the band on Friday night.

Also, we have been very lucky to have been supported by Nairns Oat Cakes this week - keeping all the competitors and volunteers on the water fuelled with tasty savoury oat cakes and their delicious stem ginger biscuits. Both are seriously moreish but healthy and nutritious - perfect sailing snacks and absolute biscuit-y winners! Thank you Nairns!

And thank you to our own Maddie Fenner (unable to sail this week due to the recent arrival of new small crew) but who's not only introduced us to Sea Change Wine and their delicious products but who's own company, Wine Gift Centre, has also provided every competitor with a sustainably sourced cotton goody bag, a quirky Drop Stop® drip free wine pourer and an on-line discount voucher. The Wine Gift Centre are the UK wine lovers' leading provider of inspiring wine gifts and gadgetry. We'll look forward to seeing Maddie and Andy back on the water soon and meeting the new team member.

The 2020 RS800 UK Nationals will be at Exe Sailing Club from 10th to 13th September, book your holiday now!

Overall Results:

PosFleetSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
1stGold1220Luke McEwenEmma McEwenRoyal Lymington YC‑174211413‑616
2ndGold961Rory HunterStephanie OrtonChichester YC263531‑108‑1828
3rdGold1124Rob GullanCalum HealeyHISC335‑1361371‑1638
4thGold1144Tom MorrisGuy FillmoreHISC‑26DGXDGX(RET)5525140
5thGold1215Steve WilsonHarvey Hillary 9542(BFD)68‑21842
6thGold1171James PentyEddie GraysonBeaver SC510(UFD)68153‑371158
7thGold1225Stephen CockerillDan HendersonStokes Bay SC414‑20498917‑1965
8thGold1146Tristan JaquesMark HeatherHISC6(UFD)1312(BFD)14571067
9thGold1008Ben PalmerAmy SeabrightHISC‑2916161612‑2019373
10thGold1234Frances PartingtonTom PartingtonHISC101210(DNC)418136‑2873
11thGold1219Peter BartonChris FeibuschLymington Town SC211113141114(DNC)(DNC)75
12thGold1222Paul JenkinsPeter JenkinsEastbourne Sovereign SC771419‑232‑2618976
13thGold1228Andy JeffriesAllyson JeffriesEastbourne Sovereign SC149189‑283626‑2785
14thGold1231Hugh ShoneHannah TattersallSwanage SC16‑17157‑34911131586
15thGold1189James DateJames GreenBeer SC1122‑2581017184(DNC)90
16thGold1157Chris CattChris MartinNetley SC12817(BFD)30(DNC)142193
17thGold1166Ralph SingletonSophie SingletonRYA1313211019(BFD)16(DNC)294
18thGold1188Daniel GoodmanDebbie ClarkStokes Bay SC152423212010‑412‑29115
19thGold1204Martin OrtonAlex OrtonChicester YC12201115133215‑38‑34118
20thSilver1198Alex BenfieldNick IrelandStokes Bay SCRDG2716(DNC)12‑3119275130
21stSilver1224Fred LordLouise GaleCarsington18‑2991425242124‑26135
22ndSilver1239Michiel Geerling‑van SusanteHilde Geerling ‑ van SusanteLTSC(UFD)157(DNC)3135122513138
23rdGold1131Ed ChapmanSarah MartinHISC82322(DNC)22‑25252322145
24thSilver1007Paddy GambleFiona CollinsNetley SC191829(DNC)2436‑37204150
25thGold1232Cameron MossDarrol MossLyme Regis SC‑271626231821‑352225151
26thSilver1139Dave ConlonEd GibbonsBrightlingsea SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC1726497159
27thSilver1043Christopher DoddBryony Meakins / Tom MaidwellRutland Water SC(UFD)8301129193634(DNC)167
28thSilver1126George SmithAlice CrickBough Beech SC232628(DNC)‑3323311624171
29th 1135David SteedCameron BarrNetley SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC77173017174
30thSilver1218George RichardsGreg BrownLymington Town SC202519(DNC)27‑40294014174
31stSilver925Simon JenkinsJames Neil ArnottNewhaven & Seaford SC28‑3017(DNC)2627282930185
32ndSilver982Neal GibsonKeith MaceyDowns SC2421272230‑423332‑35189
33rdSilver1163Tim DickinsonFin DickinsonHISC221912(DNC)1528(DNC)DNCDNC192
34th 834Chris MatthewsAli HindsBrightlingsea SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC1122272812196
35thSilver1238Ciaran HurneyMel KwanOxford SC3128242037‑38‑393323196
36th 1203Tim GrattonFiona HampshireSt Catharine College SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC2202210DNC198
37thSilver1200Richard SmithEllie SmithWilsonian SC33313118‑392924‑3937203
38th 1156Mary RookHugh BrayshawWeston SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC3516341220213
39th 1195Graham WilliamsonHarry KennedyHISC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC2137321531232
40thSilver1102Roger PlailChris PlailEastbourne Sovereign SC353333(DNC)(BFD)34RET11DNC242
41stSilver913Adrian HoweFenella WilliamsOxford SC32323224414438(DNC)(DNC)243
42nd 1073Eddie BridleTom KyneBrightlingsea SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC3633233532255
43rd 1212Liam WillisNoah ReesLymington Town SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC32413036RET283
44th 881Jamie FreemanSarah ConlonBrightlingsea SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC3839DNC3133285
45th 8Hamish McAlphineToby CadyOxford SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNC4045404136298
46thSilver919Joe GallivanJake StowLymington Town SC34(RET)(DNC)DNC4243RETDNCDNC311
47thSilver1057Mark OakeyEmily RobertsonItchenor SC25(RET)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC313

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