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RS100 Rooster National Tour - Harken RS Sprint Regatta at Rutland Sailing Club

by David Smart 25 Apr 06:02 BST 20-21 April 2024
Winner - RS100 Harken Sprints 2024 © Mark Coupar

The Sprints are well known for being challenging on mind and body. With 12 races in two days and no discards, consistency is key. Any slip can be costly, and so it proved to be...

The conditions were at the more wintry end of an English Spring: a force 3 to 4 North Easterly coming from the Arctic. Everyone was wrapped up as if it were mid-Winter, with dry suits and woolly hats the order of the day.

Mostyn Evans tested his drysuit with a quick dip between races, but found it wanting. A leaky seal retains the freezing Rutland waters around one's nether regions, and that's not good for concentration.

While Clive Eplett and David Smart were enjoying an epic battle on day one, the fifth race included one comic element. Eplett was leading at the second windward mark. Smart tacked onto the starboard lay line, but missed the toestraps and did a 'graceful' roll out of the boat. He held onto the mainsheet to try to clamber back on board, but only managed to pull the boat back on top of himself. Smart, as if a rugby commentator, apologised if anyone caught some on air coarse language. I doubt anyone noticed as they were laughing their woolly hats off.

Martin Wilson enjoyed an event long battle with Tom Fletcher. Nevertheless, a frustrating swim in race seven proved costly as the non-discardable DNF meant that Fletcher took the final podium spot, despite Wilson's continually improving results in the last three races.

However, the award for extreme bullishness with impeccable comic timing has to go to Mark Harrison. He upped his game on Sunday, when the wind was slightly up and the temperature slightly down on that of Saturday. Eplett had decided that he wasn't enjoying the brass-monkey Spring weather and went home to warm his toes. Harrison's Sunday results of four bullets were impressive and threatened Smart's position on the top step. In the final race, Harrison led at the last leeward mark with Smart a mere two boat lengths behind. It was a mere 50 meters to the finish and involved a slight heading up to cross the line. However, this was on the edge of kiteable with a large gust approaching and Smart breathing down his neck. The sensible option might have been to drop the kite, but that risked Smart beating him if he could hold his kite. So Harrison held on, dumped the main and cranked on the Cunnigham. All good moves which meant he was making the line safely...until that gust hit. Just one flap of the kite took Harrison's bow downwind to be aiming at the fast approaching committee boat. The inevitable happened and he capsized to windward no more than 5 metres from the finish line. Smart was not laughing as he sailed past with his kite flying...they were clearly tears of sorrow at Mark's tragic demise.

So the podium ended up with David Smart (Chew Valley Lake) winning, Mark Harrison (Gurnard) second with the ever consistent Tom Fletcher (Hunts) third.

A massive thank you to Rutland for the efficient running of 12 races with never more than a 10 minute break between those races. An enormous thanks to Harken for their sponsorship of this great event. And many thanks to Rooster for their continued sponsorship of the RS100 National Tour.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9R10R11R12Pts
1st523David SmartChew Valley Lake SC12215121222122
2nd379Mark HarrisonGurnard SC33332312111427
3rd124Tom FletcherHunts SC55454533344348
4th221Martin WilsonEmsworth SC445434DNFRET433252
5th509Clive EplettFrensham Pond211212RETDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC57
6th472Andrew LeatherMiddle Nene SC7676DNCDNC44DNFDNCDNCDNC82

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