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RS400 Rope4Boats Southern Tour at Queen Mary Sailing Club

by Chris Eames 16 Mar 12:21 GMT 11-12 March 2023

The casual observer could easily have mistaken the Rope4Boats RS400 Southern Tour event at Queen Mary for an RS400 Champion of Champions event. Among the entrants were: Ben & Roz McGrane; Sam Knight & Chris Bownes; Tom Halhead & Paul Hilliar; and James Stewart & Roger Gilbert. The "great and the good" as one competitor put it.

The weekend started on Saturday with training hosted by Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley. The day began with some boat set up to ensure everyone was on the right page. We then went afloat to work on boat speed, tacks, and gybes. It was great to see the rapid progression of those at the training and many were seen putting their newfound skills into practice on race day.

Sunday dawned warm with a perfect breeze and the first race did not disappoint. After a 40-minute game of snakes and ladders it was Ben & Roz who pipped Tom & Paul, with James & Roger completing the podium. You could have thrown a sheet over the top 6 boats such was the closeness of the racing. By this stage the wind had dropped right off to what felt like 5 knots. Given the forecast was for a brisk 10-20 knots was forecast this was a surprise to say the least.

The lighter winds and left shift resulted in a pile up at the pin end and a general recall at the start of race 2. True to his word, the race officer duly sent the rowdy 400 fleet to the back allowing the 200s to start first. At the second time of trying the 400s got away to begin chasing down the 200s and just as the 10-20 knots arrived, we managed it. The result was exactly what you would expect. Ben & Roz took the victory again followed by Tom & Paul with Sam & Chris finishing third.

By the start of race 3 the wind was really up, and the upwind slogs were rewarded with "full send" conditions downwind. Memorable moments included jeering from the crowd (Tom Halhead) when James & Roger approached the windward mark on port. Ben McGrane probably could have handled the situation on his own but I'm sure the emotional support was appreciated. By the time we got to the leeward gate, the key tactical consideration was judging your way through the 200 fleet.

By the start of the 4th race most people were exhausted and ready for a quick 3 lapper before home. The race officer, however, had other ideas and decided an extra lap was required. Sam & Chris had found their form and romped home to victory. They were followed by Tom & Paul with Ben & Roz taking third, just enough to clinch overall victory.

A huge thanks to our sponsors, Rope4Boats for providing the prizes, and everyone at Queen Mary for producing such a memorable event. If the first event is anything to go by it is going to be an epic season. The next event on the Southern Tour is Salcombe on the first May Bank Holiday with the Southern Championships taking place at Hayling Island on 24/25 June. The road to Mounts Bay has well and truly begun!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st1309Ben McGraneRoz McGraneNetley SC11(UFD)35
2nd1535Tom HalheadPaul HilliarLlandegfedd SC‑22125
3rd1376Sam KnightChris BownesBartley SC‑53317
4th1528Christopher EamesRachel TilleyQueen Mary Sailing Club‑442410
5th1400James StewartRoger GilbertNetley Sailing Club354‑612
6th1235Sam PickeringEmily HeathChichester Yacht Club‑665516
7th1539Steven BroomfieldCharlie BellLymington Town Sailing Club‑1176720
8th880Tim Le CouilliardJames Le CouilliardKGSC8‑107823
9th1061Martin WoodSarah SkinnerNew Quay Yacht Club9(RET)8926
10th1447David RyderMichelle RyderIsland Barn RSC79(DNC)DNC30
11th1521Andy PowellChris RolfeWarsash108(UFD)DNC32
12th765Andy NicollGuy HalfordOxford SC12(RET)RETDNC40
13th1470Ian PeaceMike BarrettIsland Barn RSC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC42

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