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RS700s at the Skiff open meeting at Weymouth & Portland Sailing Academy

by Matt Conner 18 May 2023 20:14 BST 13-14 May 2023
RS700 fleet celebrate at the Weymouth Skiff Open © C Prentice

A last minute addition into the event calendar, the RS700s were invited to join the skiff open hosted by Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, forming a joint start with their comrades in the Musto fleet.

With 369 of the RS700 fleet hedging the trip against a less than promising forecast, it was down to the most tenacious of competitors to commit to racing, whatever the weather.

Day One

Arriving on the Saturday to sunshine and a beautiful 15 knot breeze, all fingers were crossed that it would hold out for the day. With the race team equally keen to make the most of what was there, the fleets headed out with the speculation of squeezing in four races in the harbour.

Despite getting under way quickly, by the time the RS700s and skiffs were starting, the breeze had steadily dropped to 6-8 knots. Heading up the one mile beat it was Pete Purkiss, showing way round for the majority of the 2 lapper, with Matt Carter and Matt Conner chasing in second and third.

With the wind dropping further, clean air became a must. Sadly for Purkiss, a Musto hampered his path, allowing Carter and Conner to regain some ground and Carter to sneak past for the win, with just yards to go.

With the breeze faltering and unlikely to return, the race team called all fleets back to shore, whilst waiting to see if further racing would be viable. Despite the best efforts of the race team, the day closed with just one race completed and a marginal forecast for the following day. Fortunately, the sun was shining and the bar was open. Perfect Plan B conditions.

Top three positions after day one were Carter, Purkiss and then Conner. It would be these three names that would continue to fight it out for the podium spots throughout the weekend.

Day Two

Waking up after a night out in Weymouth, it wasn't just the competitors feeling foggy. Banks of cloud were rolling down the hills and sitting across the harbour. The race team postponed and predicted a shift in wind later in the day.

The wind did shift temporarily to the SW and although visibility was still challenged, the fleets launched into the gloom and gybed their way through the harbour hunting out the committee boat. After a delay, the wind settled back in the SE with around 6-8 knots. Enough to get going.

The fleet started cleanly under the U flag for a two lap race, with a half mile beat. With a fickle wind and low visibility, there was place changing throughout the fleet. Calling the ley lines was tricky when you couldn't see the marks. This was not the time to bang a corner, upwind or down.

By the second lap it was Matt Carter who had established a small lead over Purkiss and then Conner close behind. Conner found more breeze to move up to second on the upwind leg and kept that slot until the end.

Race three began after some waiting for conditions to improve, which they did for visibility, but not for wind. Three laps on a shorter course was displayed. It was the same top three who battled it out, trading places as the patchy wind favoured alternate sides of the course.

This time it was Pete Purkiss who slipped away, leaving Matt and Matt battling for second place right up until the final gate mark, where Conner just squeezed an overlap on Carter to see him off on the final reach to the finish line.

With the time limit for additional races now expired, the only option was to head home with just three races sailed in the event. Points were tight at the top, just three points separated the top three places. Matt Carter won with 5 points, Pete Purkiss took second with 6 points and Matt Conner secured third place with 7 points.

Wisdom for the weekend - sometimes the forecast gets it right, but there's always a plan B.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3Pts
1st1062Matt Carter1135
2nd1042Peter Purkiss2316
3rd1060Matthew Conner3227

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