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RS700 Rooster National Tour at the Lymington Dinghy Regatta

by Matt Conner 6 Jul 2021 15:52 BST 3-4 July 2021

With barely enough time to detach their trailer and dry their kit, the Rooster sponsored national tour treated the RS700 fleet to its second event in just seven days.

The fleet headed to Lymington to join the RS800s and the wider annual Lymington Dinghy Regatta, with sponsorship from Harken and Nick Cox Chandlery.

Wonderfully hosted by the joint efforts of Royal Lymington Yacht Club and Lymington Town Sailing club, travellers were made to feel welcome from the moment they arrived. The facilities were excellent and the organisation ashore and afloat was top grade.

15 boats had signed up before the multi-class event quickly hit max capacity, with entries spread across visitors and a strong home fleet.

Day One

With the forecast of 12-18 knots looking like it would deliver ideal conditions, the fleet set off with excitement, tacking up the river and turning left for a great kite run down to the East course in the Solent.

Race one started first time with a slight port bias against a flooding tide. Some took advantage of this to take the direct route inshore and out of the main tidal flow. A few shouts of injustice could be heard from those starting on starboard where the crosses, in some cases, were marginal. A pecking order was soon established with National Champion Theo Galyer setting the pace alongside local hero Rich Lilley. With places changing throughout the fleet as competitors judged or misjudged lay lines in a building breeze and tide, everyone had something to fight for. At the end of race one it was still Theo in 1st place, with Rich Lilley chasing hard, whilst watching his back for the ever-present Richard Keeton.

Race two - having seen the success of a port tack start and heading inshore from race one, a few more gave it a go. Perhaps they were pining for the Garda trip that never was. For some this paid off even though they had to duck some sterns, for others a crash tack and a swim was the outcome. With the wind strengthening towards 20 knots there was a pattern starting to emerge between those with more experience in the class versus those building their confidence. The leading pack of Theo, Richard Lilley, Matt Conner and Richard Keaton pulled away. Also right in the mix was William Homewood, showing great promise as a new entrant to the fleet. After three laps it was another bullet for Theo with Lilley next over the line, closely followed by Keaton and Conner. With the conditions becoming more challenging, several of the fleet decided that two laps was enough for them, saving their energy for the final race of the day. Sadly for Malcolm Streeton a broken mast called for tow back to base and the end of this event.

Race three - With slight starboard bias on the line and breeze still towards the 20 knot level the fleet took the more conventional procedure as the flag dropped. Most still tacked off to head for the tidal advantage once a lane became clear. Theo gave a great view of how to sail flat, free and fast, those close enough to take his example arrived at the windward mark with the intention of ending his dominant run. Matt Conner and Richard Lilley battled hard for second place for the next two laps, knowing that a simple mistake from Theo would put him in reach also. After the three laps, Theo had a good lead with a faultless display and his third win of the day. Conner held Lilley off to the end to take second. Roland Smith took fourth, showing that his investment in a new boat was proving its worth.

On returning to harbour the fleet were greeted by having their trolley hand delivered to the slipway, hot drinks and snacks, courtesy of the club. What more could you ask for? In the evening hospitality extended further with a BBQ and much anticipated Euro's football viewing.

Day Two

With a forecast of more of the same and a rainstorm thrown in for good measure the fleet headed out into the Solent chop.

Race four - With an earlier start the tidal advantage had shifted, so it was out into the deep water off the line for the majority of the fleet. At the windward mark Theo rounded first of a tight pack coming in on port, followed closely by Ed Reeves who had taken the contrarian route inshore to approach on the starboard lay line. Andy Wright and Rich Lilley joined the queue in 3rd and 4th and followed Theo by gybing back inshore to the smoother water. Matt Conner stayed out it the stronger breeze and played the swell to come back to 2nd by the leeward rounding. The order remained to the finish with Theo 1st, Matt 2nd and Rich Lilley picking up a 3rd.

Race five - There was a change of scene at the front as Theo had to do some chasing, a situation which only made him try harder. Richard Lilley led for the first lap, followed by Matt Conner. Lilley's safety gybe turned out to be not so safe after all, giving the lead to Conner for the last two laps. Theo chased hard and had come back through the pack to cross gybes with Matt on the last leg. A swim for Conner 5m from the finish line handed yet another win to Theo and allowed several others through too. It was Theo in first, Richard Keaton in 2nd then Richard Lilley recovering to 3rd place.

Race six - After a delay to allow a large rain squall to pass through the final race was under way. The usual suspects led the charge to the windward mark. Theo rounded first but decided to leave the boat briefly whilst bearing off for the spreader mark - a scenario most of the fleet can relate to, but an unusual error for a man carrying two championship dots on his mainsail. Lilley and Conner passed as Theo climbed back into his boat and went into Hulk mode. As the front three tore downwind in the rolling swell they split to pass a yacht cruising up the channel, Conner and Lilley soaking low, whilst Theo heated up to keep the speed on in the aim of recovering some lost ground. Unfortunately, this speed was more than his boat could handle and it succumbed to gear failure after a nosedive. Lilley held on for the win, Conner in second and Richard Keeton in 3rd never out of contention.

Overall it was a convincing, but never easy, win for Theo Galyer. Richard Lilley took second and Matt Conner came third. There were some great battles throughout the fleet and strong camaraderie on and off the water. Three RS700 Rooster National Tour prize caps were awarded to Theo as winner, Andy Wright for mid-fleet hero, and Nathan Steffenoni for the endeavour prize. In accepting his prize Theo thanked the club for a fantastic event and the event sponsors Harken and Nick Cox Chandlery for their support.

Entry is open for our Noble Marine RS700 National Championship to be held at Castle Cove SC 9-12 Sept 2021 at

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelm NameClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1063Theo GalyerHISC11111(DNC)5
2nd945Richard LilleyLTSC223‑43111
3rd1060Matt ConnerQueen Mary SC6422‑7216
4th954Richard KeetonRLymYC335‑72316
5th1035William HomewoodLTSC55‑764525
6th710Nathan SteffenoniWeston SC4668‑9630
7th1068Roland SmithHISC77496(DNC)33
8th1061Andy WrightQueen Mary SC(DNC)DNF858441
9th801Steve CarrBrightlingsea SC8(DNC)91010744
10th825Ed ReevesRLymYC(DNC)DNCDNC3DNCDNC67
11th1041Simon HawesQueen Mary SC(DNC)DNFDNCDSQ5DNC69
12th931Malcolm StreetonHISC9(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNC73
13th769Paul HemsleyRLymYC10(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNC74

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