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RS300 Rooster National Tour at Stokes Bay Sailing Club

by Matt Sargent 12 Sep 2022 16:50 BST 3-4 October 2022

I was feeling more than a little nervous approaching the Rooster RS300 National Tour event at Stokes Bay Sailing Club, held jointly with the Europes and OKs.

I had only sailed the boat twice since August 2019, and my last single-handed outing had been in the much, much smaller Europe at their Nationals. It turns out I hadn't raced at a RS300 event since the 2017 Nationals at Prestwick. So clearly I had some things to remember - and I also needed to know if it would still be fun!

Race one - Very little idea what went on! Excellent course configuration with the RS300s sailing a trapezoid with an extra outer loop for the faster RS300s who started first. The wind was 8-12 knots from the South with the tide running right to left and lovely sparkly waves. Waves that were definitely there, but not threatening (yet). I started at the wrong (starboard) end not noticing until too late that everyone was at the other end. I didn't even really watch from a distance just focussed on staying upright. The top three were Dave Acres, Pete Mackin and Luke South.

Forgotten skills one - The majority of the fleet, especially the top sailors, are rarely wrong. If you're on your own you're probably the stupid one!

Race two - The wind was a bit breezier for race two at 10-14 knots with the tide turning mid race. Most interesting incident was the close passage of a big tug on first reach generating massive wash. The appropriate action seemed to be sheet out, sit in the middle, put my hands together and pray... Luke South was closest and nearest a capsize. Left paid on the beats, then later in the race as the tide turned the right. Dodging Europes was an essential skill at the top of beat and early part of run due to the speed differential and the size of their top and bottom turns.

Race three - Windier - much windier... described in another event report as medium wind....didn't feel like it in an RS300! The waves were now definitely menacing, even threatening, like Jules Vincent in "Pulp Fiction". Starting the second lap Pete Mackin was running second but approached the committee boat only to find his number on the UFD board... So it finished Dave Acres, Matt Sargent, Luke South in an Emsworth SC 1,2,3.

Forgotten skills two - Don't pick a moveable object for a background transit: "Wow, that tide's running fast....oh wait they're towing the carrier in".

After three races the discard was in and it was...Dave Acres, from Pete Mackin, then me, then Luke South and the very consistent Rob Ford in 5th. More importantly we had a very welcome drink on tallying off!

Forgotten skills three - I took a Coke for the sugar and caffeine rather than focussing on alcohol-based complex carbohydrates. Big error!

Most of the RS300 fleet stayed for the social and enjoyed a lovely chilli - caterer Jo was good enough to fry up some chips for very hungry RS300 sailors....probably the secret of their success in the quiz/games event: if an RS300 team has ever won a quiz at a multi-fleet event it must have been in my missing 5 years...Great fun!

Race four - The wind was breezier on Sunday morning, and the sky overcast. It was just touching 20 knots at times, without much sign of the forecast moderation. It was Left/Left/Left on the beats with a tidal apparent shift at the top. Luke South bailed mid race due to an unresolved leaky boat problem. Waves on the runs were now beyond threatening, they were tricky, especially at the bear away. With starboard the dominant gybe and a need to work inside of the Europes the leeward mark was extra difficult with a 180 degree gybe rounding onto a port beat. Pete Mackin was 1st again, showing super speed downwind. These were clearly local waves for local people.

Forgotten skills four - Don't give Dave Acres an inch - he very nearly managed to sail low past me on the fetch to finish and steal second.

Race five - This race was memorable for Cheryl Woods' 'Barry Steel Tribute' port flyer. Phil Underwood was also closing the gap and beginning to remember how to sail the RS300 on the sea. Chris Brooks was also showing at the front and putting pressure on Matt Sargent and Dave Acres while Tom Moore also had good first beats and was threatening.

Race six - Rob Ford tacked early onto port, and I was forced there after an aborted attempt at a port flyer. The only thing more intimidating than the waves on the run was Cheryl putting the bow down and yelling 'starboard!' Dave and Pete focussed on each other like Rose de Witt and Jack Dawson (up to you decide who was Kate Winslet and who Leo De Caprio), and ended up hard left as a right hand shift on second half of first beat left Rob Ford with a solid lead ahead of me. The waves were big enough for nose dives on the reach and I was taking a careful approach. At the bear away mark something strange happened - suddenly Rob was sitting head to wind in my way with the rudder in his hands! Unfortunately I managed to spend the lead pretty quickly on the downwinds. Somehow Rob was able to replace the rudder in those waves and finished sixth. Pete Mackin finished first, and I just held on to beat Dave Acres.

As a result Pete was the overall winner, Dave second and me third. Phil Underwood won the Endeavour prize and Chris Brooks received the mid-fleet award.

I had forgotten just how much I enjoy weekend Open Meetings, how much I enjoy racing against other RS300s, and hanging out with like-minded sailors. It was definitely full on fun! It was a fantastic return to Open Meeting sailing and to a terrific Club which did a brilliant job, running the racing and hosting ashore. It really is worth the effort to get out there....and if you're not sure where to start back after a break, I'd definitely recommend a Stokes Bay Sailing Club event. Thank you to Rooster for sponsoring the RS300 National Tour.

Forgotten skills five - Avoid coming third to avoid writing the report...

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st556Peter MackinStokes Bay SC21(UFD)1116
2nd544David AcresEmsworth SC 1‑3132310
3rd524Matt SargentEmsworth SC and ASA‑42223211
4th351Rob FordAlton Water SC5544‑6523
5th537Chris Brooks ‑87564426
6th519Thomas Moore 66655(DNC)28
7th520Luke SouthEmsworth SC343(RET)DNCDNC32
8th335Philip UnderwoodCotswold99877(RET)40
9th395Ben HeppenstallWhitefriars SC7878(DNC)DNC41
10th532Cheryl WoodPennine SC10(UFD)RET98644

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