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RS400s in the Lord Birkett Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club

by Alistair Coates 6 Jul 2022 06:28 BST 2-3 July 2022
RS400s in the Lord Birkett Trophy at Ullswater © Tim Olin /

Round 5 of the Trident RS400 Northern Tour was held as part of the iconic Lord Birkett Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club on the 2nd and 3rd of July. There were 190 entrants this year, including a whopping 21 RS400s, 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, however, was an absolute cracker! Saturday was a force 3 minimum with gusts hitting force 5. People reported planing non-stop for 20 minutes. Sunday was a bit lighter, and a bit more westerly, but still featured hiking upwind all the way and some glorious blasts downwind.

The Lord Birkett Trophy is held over the entire length of Ullswater - GPS traces showed boats travelling around 16 miles on Saturday and a touch less on Sunday. The first 400 home on each day took 1 hour and 50 minutes, which by my maths, is about 7.5 knots average.

Saturday's race was a hard, hard affair! The RS400's made their customary appearance towards the front of the fleet, with Ollie Groves and Martin Penty (Beaver SC) making the early running upwind, with Alistair Coates and Steve Tylecote (Budworth) nipping at their heels. Alistair had wisely upgraded from a lighter Tylecote (nephew Ben who he won the 2021 Birkett with) to a heavier version for 2022.

Stewart and Sarah Robertson (Royal Forth) joined the fray, going typically fast (and upright!) until an untimely capsize knocked them back a bit. Chris Pickles and Matt Sharman (Bassenthwaite) also had some recovering to do after some start line shenanigans involving various keelboats. The Author had a moment after the race when, due to a case of mistaken identity, he thought he was going to be beaten up for some start line infringement!

Richard and Heather Marsh (Hollingworth) and Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin (Llangorse) were in the mix too as Norfolk Island was rounded, kites hoisted and the sleigh ride began. Groves/Penty extended away to be 1st 400, with Pickles/Sharman 2nd and Coates/Tylecote 3rd (not helped by an unfortunate little swim part way!). On a day heavily favouring the trapeze boats, 4 RS400's in the top twenty was a very good performance.

Sunday's forecast was not brilliant, but turned out to be pretty good in the end. With more west in the wind direction, the race officer had a harder time getting the fleet away - even getting out the black flag to restore order. This time Robertson/Robertson and Heissig/Griffin held a slender lead from Groves/Penty at Norfolk Island with Coates/Tylecote and Pickles/Sharman not too far behind. Groves/Penty wore the leaders down but missed out on a gust which took them away again, allowing Heissig/Griffin to be first 400 home and 2nd on handicap on the day. Coates/Tylecote and Pickles/Sharman were seemingly connected by elastic for the entire 6-mile spinnaker run and eventually finished in that order, 7 seconds apart after nearly 2 hours of racing!

The weather conditions were not favourable to a 400 winning overall, but we still managed 7th to 11th overall, headed by Groves/Penty. It was a cracking weekend of racing, from which my thighs are still recovering. I challenge anyone to say they were quite 'with it' on Monday morning at work!

Bring on 23rd and 24th of July 2022 for the next round of the Trident RS400 Northern Tour at Yorkshire Dales and 1st and 2nd of July 2023 for the next instalment of the Birkett.

RS400 Overall Results:

1Ollie GrovesMartin PentyBeaver Sailing Club12517
2Jon HeissigNicky GriffinLlangorse Sailing Club22224
3Chris PicklesMatt SharmanBassenthwaite Sailing Club151025
4Alistair CoatesSteve TylecoteBudworth Sailing Club18927
5Stewart RobinsonSarah RobertsonRoyal Firth Yyacht Club26329
6Richard MarshHeather MarshHollingworth Lake Sailing Club191534
7Steve RestallChris StubbsDowns Sailing Club402060
8Jacob AinsworthKayleigh RobertsTynemouth Sailing Club353065
9Keith EscrittPhil PriestlyYorkshire Dales SC56.51773.5
10Danny BoatmanMatthew BoatmanSunderland Yacht Club551974
11Sam JonesCorey NewtonStaunton Harold Sailing Club781391
12Philip MurrayMatthew MurrayTynemouth Sailing Club8422106
13Graeme NewtonGrahame SmithStaunton Harold Sailing Club7347120
14Justin SmithSarah KincaidTynemouth Sailing Club63120183
15Bill MaughanLuke McGillSunderland Yacht Club81115196
16Stephen SmithMatt ButlerYorkshire Dales SC75131206
17Ian NichollsGareth OwenLargs Sailing Club110136246
18Nathan SmithRichard BarnettStaunton Harold Sailing Club129118247
19Phil RobinsonTim CreswellCarsington Sailing Club109142251
20Richard TowerPaul HickmanCarsington Sailing Club125146271
21George PullmanApril BoyesGlossop Sailing Club192125317

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