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Rope4Boats RS400 Northern Tour at the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club

by Alistair Coates 8 Jul 18:49 BST 3-4 July 2021

Round 4 of the Rope4Boats RS400 Northern Tour was held as part of the iconic Lord Birkett Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club. The normal 200+ entry list was restricted to a mere 160 for this year's edition due to Covid. Thirteen RS400s were amongst the runners and riders, with a mixture of Northern Tour regulars and others making a very welcome first appearance.

Birkett regulars are accustomed to watching Windguru in the fortnight leading up to the event, hoping for a F5 south-westerly, and generally being disappointed on the day. This year was no exception, with a lovely F3 southerly on Friday being replaced on Saturday by a F2 westerly/southerly/easterly (at best)!

The Birkett is held over the entire length of Ullswater, preferably turning at the third island. In a nod to the conditions, the Race Officer shortened to Norfolk Island as a windward(?) mark, and leeward marks just downwind of the club. Nevertheless, the first boat home, a 49er, only just scraped in in under 3 hours.

The RS400s made their customary appearance at the front of the fleet, with Richard Catchpole and Gary Coop (Leigh and Lowton) making the early running, closely followed by Chris Pickles and Matt Sharman (Bassenthwaite SC), Barrie Thornton and Nick Hunt (Scaling Dam), Hamish Gledill and Andy Dawson (West Riding) and Alistair Coates and Ben Tylecote (Budworth / Rutland).

It was a close battle to Norfolk Island, with Coates/Tylecote just edging round as first RS400, amongst the much faster VX One's and 49ers, with the other RS400s not far behind.

It was a tricky run / beat / reach back to the club, with the first 4 boats staying close throughout, and success depending very much on whether you got a gust that no-one else did. Finishing hot on the heels of many faster boats, including beating all the Musto Skiffs on the water, it was a lockout of the first four places by RS400s, with Coates/Tylecote holding on to their slender advantage to the end.

Sunday dawned with the lake a beautiful, mirror finish, and no-one holding out too much hope of change. The Race Officer postponed for an hour or so before a rain cloud brought with it a lovely F2-3 from the South. Sadly, by the time everyone was afloat, the rain had gone (yeah!), but so too had the wind (blast!).

Sailing a shortened course up to Howtown and back, there was enough wind to get a start away at the second attempt and, again, it was Catchpole/Coop who made the best getaway, closely followed by Coates/Tylecote, Thornton/Hunt, Pickles/Sharman and Richard/Heather Marsh from Hollingworth Lake SC.

Catchpole/Coop stayed comfortably in front this time, despite the wind filling in from behind, helping the slower handicap boats add a certain amount of tension, bewilderment and downright panic to the minds of the early finishers while they waited for the handicaps to be calculated.

The tension rose as the prize-giving got under way, with early signs that the slower boats had indeed done well. None better than long time RS400 stalwarts, Louise Mckeand and Nige Hall in their Wayfarer. Tying with a Lightning on corrected time for first place in the second race they were both awarded 1.5 points, meaning Mckeand/Hall missed out on first place overall by half a point.

Instead, victory went to (a very emotional) Coates/Tylecote, with Catchpole/Coop in fifth, Thornton/Hunt sixth and Pickles/Sharman seventh.

Ian Turnbull from Rope4Boats held a raffle from the competitors present. Chris Mulholland (Ullswater YC) won Rope4Boats hats, Harvey Jackson (Leigh and Lowton SC) won a £20 Rope4Boats voucher and David Sparkes (Loch Lomond SC) won a £10 Rope4Boats voucher.

After a summer break the Tour next moves on to the Northern Championships at the legendary Notts County SC on 4-5 September - see you there.

RS400 results within the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2Pts
1st498Alistair CoatesBen TylecoteBudworth12021
2nd1508Richard CatchpoeGary CoopLeigh & Lowton SC17825
3rd1437Barrie ThorntonNick HuntScaling Dam SC32528
4th1283Chris PicklesMatt SharmanBassenthwaite SC23234
5th1150Richard MarshHeather MarshHollingworth Lake SC103444
6th1503Peter SnowdonLouise CarrShoreham Sailing Club2436.560.5
7th1316Oli GrovesSam WallerBeaver186381
8th1511Hamish GledhillAndy DawsonWest Riding SC4156160
9th1148Hester RobertsonRichard HopeDalgety Bay12566191
10th1069Chris MulhollandHarriot PulmanUllswater YC12291213
11th738Ian NicholsGareth OwenLargs SC124156280
12th619David S SparkesFergus DuncansonLoch Lomond SC126156282
13th947Harvey JacksonChris RobertsLeigh and Lowton134156290

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