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RS700 Rooster National Tour at Stokes Bay Sailing Club

by Matt Conner 24 Apr 11:24 BST 20-21 April 2024
Richard Wadsworth - RS700 Rooster National Tour at Stokes Bay © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

The annual trip to Stokes Bay has cemented itself on the calendar as an occasion that delivers excellent racing and wonderful hospitality. The multi skiff fleet event brings a strong turnout and a great atmosphere throughout.

The RS700s arrived to compete for the first leg of their Rooster National Tour, sharing the start and course with their Musto Skiff comrades.

The forecast had improved through the week to offer a promising 10-15 knot base for both days, accompanied by some sunshine. The Northerly direction would liven things up, creating shifty and gusty conditions off the shoreline, with an added chill to the air.

Day one started promptly with a quick launch, hoist and blast out to the committee boat. The fleet started for a 3-lapper on a course which maximised the available distance between the deep water channel and the shore. Up the beat the wind had constant switches of around 20 degrees in the gusts and lulls, with more significant challenges as you approached the windward mark. There was tight racing across the fleet with place changes all round, as the shifts provided snakes and ladders opportunities for all. In the end it was Richie Thurlby who came through to take the lead, holding it for laps two and three. The day's racing took its first victim, losing the fast-charging John Booth to a gudgeon failure. Game-over for the National Champ.

Race two saw more of the same: challenging conditions and the occasional windward dunking for most. It was one dunking too many for Pistol Pete Purkiss, who declared his knees were beaten and headed ashore for warmth. No such issues for young-gun Richie Thurlby however, as once again he flexed and stretched into another win. Richie was followed across the line by Rich Wadsworth and Matt Conner to take the top three slots.

Race three brought no changes in the conditions: still cold, still shifty. But, there were changes in the running order, with Conner stepping up to take first place. Wadsworth played bridesmaid once more. Stephen Carr played a blinder to expertly read the shifts upwind and dial in to the gusts downwind to secure a third.

The fleet were welcomed ashore with plenty of help to pull the boats up the beach and some warm pasta to refuel. Competitors across the fleets then settled into the club for an evening of good food, flowing beers and lively discussion, including a panel event with insights from those at the top of the scoresheet.

Day two - The Northerly wind remained, but had stepped up a notch to be gusting into 20 knots plus at times. The cold and shifty theme remained.

Race one saw two false starts with general recalls, the Musto Skiffers not quite managing to hold their stations on the line in the ebbing tide. By this time the leading RS800 was approaching their final lap, so the race officer punished us for our poor discipline and delayed our start until they could finish the other fleets. Lesson learned. Third time lucky with the help of a black flag, it was Conner first to the windward mark, followed by Thurlby, then Wadsworth. Thurlby pulled through downwind by fluking a huge lift on the starboard gybe. Wadworth then lucked-out going right up the beat, resulting in another Thurlby, Wadsworth, Conner finishing order in the top three.

Race two saw no messing with a black flag in use from the get-go. Those choosing the pin-end looked good, although navigating around a freighter carrying a 200ft turbine blade did cause some moments of apprehension. By the final lap, it was once again Thurbly, Wadsworth, then Conner. Malcolm Streeton was a constant threat to the status quo, holding on to second place into lap two.

Race three, once again under black flag and all away cleanly. Two minutes up the beat saw a particularly big header, causing many boats across the fleet a dip to windward. The race to recovery commenced and Thurlby and Conner had some catching up to do. Thurlby stretched his legs, determined to end the day with a clean sweep. Success was his, reeling in Wadsworth and taking the last win of the event. Malcolm fought hard catch Richard, but had to settle for a third.

It had been a fine weekend's racing in challenging conditions, on a busy race course. At the end of the event Richie Thurlby had done more than enough to win and show his intentions for the rest of the season. In second place was local hero Richard Wadsworth, with Matt Conner in third.

Thank you to Stokes Bay Sailing Club for organising a fantastic weekend and to Rooster for their support for the National Tour. Next stop Hayling Island SC (HISC) for the RS 30th Anniversary Regatta on 17th to 19th May.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st762Richie ThurlbyStokes Bay SC11(RET)1115
2nd720Richard WadsworthStokes Bay SC22222(DNC)10
3rd1060Matt ConnerQueen Mary SC‑33133313
4th931Malcolm StreetonHISC44(DNC)44218
5th801Stephen CarrBrightlingsea SC(DNF)RET3DNFDNCDNC35
6th1058John BoothStokes Bay SC(RET)5DNCDNCDNCDNC37
7th1042Pete PurkissBrightlingsea(RET)DNCDNCDNCDNCDNC40

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