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RS700 Rooster National Tour at the Stokes Bay SC Skiff Open

by Richie Thurlby 25 Apr 11:07 BST 23-24 April 2022
RS700s at the Stokes Bay SC Skiff Open © SBSC race committee

The first RS700 Rooster National Tour event of 2022 opened on a bright and breezy Saturday morning at Stokes Bay Sailing Club. With the forecast of 20 - 25 knots North Easterly there were nerves and anticipation in the dinghy park as the first few boats made the tricky bear away with half boards down to the racing area.

I decided I'd worn too many layers two minutes after launching so decided to cool off in a big gust. With the first start postponed, most of the fleet decided to make the most of the glorious sunshine and switch sports to sea swimming, with some deciding to call it a day and head in.

When the RS700 start gun went off, only a few boats were left on the water and even fewer were on the start line due to a hefty gust that left a good portion of the fleet upside down upwind of the committee boat, myself included. The leaders came from more pressure on the right, with the strategy being not capsizing. Downwind the fleet was hoping for one gybe which led to most people overlaying the bottom gate and going for the one-sail reach across to the mark. The second and third upwind legs had similar priorities with the gybe set at the windward mark looking beneficial for those brave enough to do extra gybes. Theo Galyer took 1st, with Richard Wadsworth in 2nd, and Will Homewood rounding off the top three.

Race two was looking very similar to the first, priorities being not capsizing on the bear away and gybes. Theo and Richard showed strong speed in the breeze and pulled away from the fleet, finishing in 1st and 2nd respectively. Matt Conner pulled up into 3rd after I capsized metres from the final gate.

Race three started with the wind shifts predominantly from the left with the same 20 - 23 knots as the other two races. Theo and Richard quickly disappeared into the distance leaving it to Matt and me to fight for 3rd. After swapping places the whole race I managed to tap into the left shift on the last beat and pull away to take 3rd, with Richard 2nd and Theo 1st.

After a tiring day on the water it was great to be greeted with a bowl of pasta and a beer/coke at the tally station. This was followed by a chilli and quiz night at the club, with the RS700s taking the win over the other skiff classes.

Day two came with the same sunshine and slightly less wind, looking like another great day's racing. Race four started in 15 - 18 knots NE into an ebbing tide, meaning potential changes to race strategies. The start line was busy due to racing alongside the Musto Skiffs so a good start was crucial to avoid dirty air. The wind was reasonably consistent (for a Northerly) so good boat speed was essential. Theo and Richard demonstrated this well, in 1st and 2nd respectively at the first mark. Downwind the priority was linking the pressure in the dropping wind which saw the fleet doing multiple gybes to try and stay planing. I sailed a good downwind and moved into 3rd after a poor start but couldn't hold it until the end, death rolling two boat lengths from the finish line. As Matt sailed past to take 3rd, I was drifting rapidly towards the committee boat, leading to a six minute party involving my mast and the bottom of the sea.

Race five began with less wind and more frequent shifts, especially at the top of the course, making the final third of the beat important. Theo, Richard and Matt sailed quickly making no opportunities to gain with the wind light enough to make manoeuvres much less risky. The lighter wind made it harder to stay planing downwind so linking the gusts was important.

Race six began with a large right shift that Theo was able to tap into nicely after tacking early after the start. I had a decent start towards the middle of the line and was able to find a brief leftie to tack back to the right a few boat lengths behind Theo who rounded in first. Nathan Steffenoni sailed a strong upwind to round the first mark in 3rd in front of Richard in 4th. In the dying breeze it was crucial to find pressure between an increasing number of lulls downwind. Theo had pulled away to also lead the Mustos at the bottom mark with pressure as the priority for the upwind. After capsizing at the first mark in a lull, Richard decided to pull the arthritis card and head in after the second upwind, leaving the door open for Matt to move into 4th. The final downwind had many treacherous lulls, but Matt sailed quickly to overtake Nathan leaving me looking over my shoulder praying for a gust. Theo finished the weekend with a 1st and I maintained my position to finish 2nd with Nathan just pipping Matt on the line to round off the top three.

On behalf of the fleet, I would like to thank Stokes Bay and all the volunteers for hosting the event and race officer Tim Johnson and his team for a great weekend of racing. Thank you to Rooster for sponsoring our National Tour.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1063Theo GalyerHayling Island SC‑1111115
2nd1060Matthew ConnerQueen Mary SC23‑433415
3rd762Richard ThurlbyStokes Bay SC443‑64217
4th720Richard WadsworthStokes Bay SC(DNF)2222DNF20
5th1035Will HomewoodLymington 35(DNF)8.55627.5
6th1068Roland SmithHayling Island SC(DNF)DNFDNC46539
7th710Nathan SteffenoniWeston SC(DNF)DNFDNC78342
8th931Malcolm StreetonHayling Island SC(DNF)DNFDNC8.57746.5
9th903John BoothStokes Bay SC(DNF)DNF510DNFDNC51
10th1041Simon HawesQueen Mary SC(DNF)DNFDNC5DNFDNC53
11th871Curtiss DrewHayling Island SC(DNF)DNFDNCDNCDNCDNC60

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