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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

RS Fest Miami brings the hit RS Sailing festival to the United States

by Bex Foot, RS Sailing 15 Apr 16:29 BST March 30 - April 1, 2024

RS Fest Miami celebrated the RS Sailing community in the United States over the Easter weekend, hosting the first ever multi-fleet RS regatta to take place in North America.

Surrounded by the palm tree-clad everglades of Regatta Park and Coconut Grove Sailing Club, RS Fest embraced Miami's party vibes with an exciting racing programme alongside a jam-packed social calendar.

Eight nations were represented with 50+ competitors racing in the warm winds and sunshine, with the glistening skyscrapers of Miami watching over from the glamourous shoreline. Alongside boats from the host nation there were also entries from Canada, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Italy and India - making this a truly international line-up.

Sailing World Editor, Dave Reed, was at the event: "It's awesome to be here. My last RS event - over in Lake Garda - opened me up to what the RS philosophy is; to have all the different classes together. I think that's the coolest thing in the sport - getting different boats and different people together so they can just see what everybody else is sailing. It's got the variety!"

The RS Aero is a vibrant World Sailing recognised racing class that is growing year-on-year in the US. Weighing only 33kg, the popular boat is super-lightweight, balancing fantastic performance with easy handling. It's thanks to these traits that the RS Aero secured the highest overall score in the Olympic One-Person Events (2024 and beyond) Evaluation Report.

33 RS Aeros flooded the registrations at RS Fest Miami, making for exciting start lines with fierce competition. Olympic campaigner Upamanyu Dutta of Royal Bombay Yacht Club took the top position for the Aero 7s, with Noah Rees of Torpoint Mosquito Sailing Club only three points behind in second, and the RS Aero International Class Association Manager, Peter Barton in a respectable third.

Noel Butler, from Dun Laoghaire National Yacht Club, and Roy Van Maanen of Greystones Sailing Club brought some Irish flair to the RS Aero 6 fleet, taking first and third respectively. In a close cat- -and-mouse finish with the Americans, they were joined on the podium by Hank Saurage of Pontchartrain Yacht Club in second.

It was a Columbian victory in the RS Aero 5s, with Nathalie Jacob of Cedar Point Yacht Club taking the win, and power-couple Ellis and Trin Ollinger of Fairhope Yacht Club in second and third.

The RS Tera, a modern that brings dinghy sailing into the 21st century, was the boat of choice for the youth single-hander class. Also recognised by World Sailing, the RS Tera Class is a modern alternative to the Optimist. It is a real sailing boat that's simply and easy to use; designed to get kids hooked on the sport. The RS Tera Class top spot went to Park City Sailing Association sailor Evan Merriman. He showed the locals that inland lake sailors can win on coastal waters too; snatching the top spot from Coconut Grove Sailing Club resident sailors Michelle Perera in second, and Anouk Theurillat in third.

However, for the dynamic double-hander RS Feva fleet, it was a local victory for Julia Gil and Maryna Downey of Coconut Grove Sailing Club. The RS Feva is the fastest growing double-handed youth class internationally recognised by World Sailing. The main goal for the class is to keep fun in sailing for youngsters from the age of 11 years old, and that was certainly the case at RS Fest Miami. Representing the United Kingdom, from the Royal Thames Yacht Club, sister duo Trinny and Alexa Fry placed second, closely followed by multigenerational team Peter Cozzolino and Evan Davies in third from Milford Yacht Club.

RS Fest Miami also featured RS Sailing's ultimate one-design keelboat, the RS21. Designed with true Corinthian sailing in mind, the RS21 levels the playing field, meaning results are based on tactics and teamwork alone. The winning boat was skippered by Chris Stater of Miami Yacht Club, consistently winning five of the 11 races in the series with his adept crew; Alec Bollorino, Martin Langhoff and Tom Bremen. Giorgio Martelli and his crew from Lakewood Yacht Club took second. RS Sailing's Michiel Geerling and his crew, featuring Sailing World Magazine's Dave Reed and a rotation of parties, took third; proving that you can find a position for everyone and still place on the podium.

"Everything about the event was fun; from the party speakers in the boat park each morning and the fantastic racing, the additional games on-shore in the evening and the bar crawl to Sandbar, " says Michiel.

Post-racing social events were hosted at Coconut Grove Sailing Club, which enjoyed a true RS Sailing 'makeover' with a plethora of flags and the iconic RS magenta astroturf. Table tennis, cornhole and a hiking bench challenge added to the party atmosphere and the evening drinks were sponsored by Goslings Rum. The competing nations' flags were hoisted at the opening ceremony and there was a live band each night. The Easter Bunny even made a special appearance with a cake (and all the dance moves) after the Easter Egg hunt on Saturday evening. Generous prizes were provided by Rooster, Zim Sailing, West Coast Sailing, Dynamic Dollies and The Dinghy Shop for the Easter Egg hunt and the 'Golden Egg' was won by Evan Merriman. The prize? A voucher for a free charter for an RS Sailing World Championship event of their choice!

Other sponsors that supported the event included Harken, US One-Design, The Boat Locker, Central Coast Sailing, Fogh Marine, Dwyer Mast & Rigging and marine insurer Gowrie Group part of Risk Strategies. Skincare brand Dermatone generously provided a range of sun protection products including their SPF30 Mineral Sunscreen and SPF30 Lip Balm to help sailors stay shielded from the Miami glare on the water.

Outside of the racing, there was also the chance to demo boats from the RS Sailing range including the RS CAT 16, RS Aero and training camp favourite, the RS Zest.

The inaugural event mirrored the success of the European RS Fests and promises to be the first of many festivals in the USA going forward. "Over the last five days I've done what I love most", says Michiel, "We've created a sailing event, made friends for life, with the best team and a load of people who inspired me to bring it to the next level. It is not the event, the racing but it is the people that make it special!"

You can see the full results here. Want to join in next year? Stay tuned to RS Sailing's social media on Facebook and Instagram for upcoming announcements for the next RS Fest!

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