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Musto 2023 Hikers LEADERBOARD

RS800 Open Training and Sprint Racing Weekend at HISC, sponsored by The Warm Charm

by Hugh Shone 21 Apr 2023 06:42 BST 15-16 April 2023
RS800 Training and Spring Racing Weekend at Hayling © RS800 fleet

Over the weekend of 15-16 April, Hayling Island Sailing Club hosted the RS800 fleet for what was a first for the class - a hybrid training and sprint racing weekend.

By combining the annual class training with the promise of some sprint racing, demand was high for the 12 training slots available. For the first time ever we found ourselves with a waiting list for training and 20 boats entered for the sprint racing on the Sunday. On top of all this, the class was also hosting "Try an RS800" sessions and so this was quite an RS800 extravaganza.

The 12 lucky boats were split down the middle with one group heading into the bay with Simon Hall to focus on tuning runs, whilst the other group worked with Tom Morris and Guy Fillmore in the harbour to work on boat handling. Nothing like numerous sandbars to speed up the tacks!

For the harbour group, Tom summed up the session's aim as "to improve manoeuvring consistency and to troubleshoot boat-handling gremlins. The advice ranged from general skiff principles about flat boats and measured turn rates, to specifics about the RS800 including sheet handling and batten popping! The sailing was followed up by a comprehensive video debrief (once technology allowed it!)."

Meanwhile the more experienced teams in the bay were busy lining up against each other and figuring out just how they could squeeze some more speed out of their boat ahead of an exciting year of racing. With the Garda European's only a month away, teams were looking to get themselves into gear. Although we were not able to train in Garda-esque wind, we were blessed with some glorious sunshine so teams could at least practice suncream application and sunny beer drinking on balconies.

Amidst all this industrious training, Hugh Shone and Fiona Hampshire were busy showcasing what the boat has to offer in the "Try a Boat" sessions. The class ran a survey earlier in the year which highlighted the wide-ranging classes current RS800 sailors had emerged from. This wide appeal was echoed by the makeup of the try a boat attendees who spanned from 29er hotshots straight from the Youth Nationals to those who had spent very little time in skiffs.

On her dabble in the RS800, Rachel Harper (29er helm and newly crowned mixed team champion at the Youth Nationals - congrats!) said "Throughout the day we swapped in and out of an RS800 with an experienced sailor and got to try both crewing and helming. It was a bit challenging at first however, I soon got the hang of helming and hooking on to get the boat going and it was really fun. Coming from helming a 29er, the RS800 is not too dissimilar: just with more stability and a double trapeze. The RS800 doesn't stall quite as easily as 29er and has a bit more of a responsive helm, but the rest of the boat's handling is the same. The trial day was a lot of fun and I definitely will be looking forward to sailing this boat again and joining the WhatsApp group."

Meanwhile, on being asked for some feedback on the same experience, George - who dived (quite literally) into an RS800 for the first time - sent me a poem. On asking for written feedback I reassured him that I wasn't after anything too long ("nothing too Tolstoy" I said) and so on brief he sent me a Keats...

If the boat had a carpet
I'd be familiar with the smell
Thanks to the countless times
That on my face I fell

I couldn't quite believe
That we were on a beat
12 knots never moved a boat that fast
We must be on a reach

With some practice tacks got smoother
And gybes we landed a few
Big thanks to Hugh and Fiona
For putting up with a brand new crew

When the wind dropped off
They let me take a seat
At last something I can do Sitting down to pull a sheet

Perhaps writing a poem
Is a little over the top
I wonder if that pair ever managed
To get their top batten to pop

An odyssey of ups, downs and profoundness. Wonderful and definitely unique!

Once everyone was fully debriefed the fleet made their way to a local curry house to stun the locals with an impressive array of newly acquired tan lines. It was fantastic to have such a large and surprisingly thirsty RS800 gathering so early in the season. Great to catch up with friends old and new over some delicious food.

Sunday morning dawned and unfortunately the forecast was spot on. Zero wind meant that the sprint racing had to be cancelled, but the time was used wisely as all seemed to launch into a state of convivial boat bimbling. Rarely do you get the time to finally sort out those systems and boat hacks in such a supportive and friendly environment accompanied by sunshine and a well-stocked chandlery on site. Some rare sights were spotted. Firstly Phil Walker and John Mather (who believe it or not had attended the training despite a famously laissez-faire attitude to floating outside of event time) were seen doing some boat work. Perhaps more shockingly I bore witness to Tom opting to just tie a knot rather than splice. Unprecedented scenes.

Prizes for the weekend were shared out following some shoreside madness and teams slinked off into the sunset ready for the next instalment of RS800 racing and fun at Stokes Bay for Round Two of the Rooster National Tour this weekend 29-30 April. Despite missing out on the Sunday racing, the event was a massive success and we are confident it will return for 2024.

As a Class we'd also like to say a huge thank you to "The Warm Charm" for supporting us and helping us to make the event as awesome as possible. The Warm Charm are the creators of better hot water bottles. They provide kettle-less heat packs that are perfect for cold sailors with dodgy backs. Use the discount code "TWC10PROMO" to claim 10% off!

We'd also like to thank Optical Marine for covering the event for us and providing us with some fantastic footage of this special weekend.

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