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Stewart Brewing RS400 Scottish Tour Event 3 at the East Lothian Yacht Club Annual Regatta

by Alan Birse 11 Jun 15:18 BST 1-2 June 2024

East Lothian Yacht Club's annual regatta on the first weekend of June must be one of, if not the, largest open dinghy regattas in Scotland. With 15 classes from Oppies to Skiffs, and over 120 boats taking part, the weekend promised competitive sailing in a well loved location.

As we approached the weekend, the forecast was not looking promising - single digit winds on the Saturday and barely touching the teens on Sunday. What we actually got was a strong Easterly on Saturday with rolling waves and winds building to mid 20s. On Sunday, the wind shifted to a strong and building westerly, peaking at about 30 knots in mid afternoon.

As is normal at North Berwick, we split into 2 fleets, with the junior sailors and several other fleets sailing on the West Course, while the faster boats headed out to the East course, between Craigleith and the Bass Rock. Due to the limited number of 400s that made it to the event, we were included in the Skiffs, which meant we were racing in a fleet of 18 boats, all of which had PY handicaps at least 100 less than ours! So while the leading skiffs were completing races in about 40 minutes, the leading 400 was typically 15 minutes behind them - which did make for 6 long races -although to be fair Gonzo was the only one of the fleet which managed to complete all 6 races.

On day one, Alan and Mike had a hatch failure before race one and foolishly decided that it would be OK - it wasn't! Having capsized due to a large amount of water sloshing about inside the hull and failing to recover without the help of the rescue boat, we headed back to the beach to empty the boat - this took a good 15 minutes due to the amount of water we'd got in the boat - amazing how quickly water can get into an open hatch! In the meantime, Jamie/Neil and Lorne/Ben had a close race finishing less than a minute apart in an hour long race. Jamia and Neil in Gonzo took the honours for this one.

Race 2 and the wind was growing - along with the rolling waves that were such fun. Alan and Mike just made it back to the start but, as before, it was Jamie/Neil and Lorne/Ben who showed their mastery of the course. This time Lorne and Ben took the win, Alan and Mike deciding to retire due to several capsizes, strong winds and old age.

Race 3 was another close run event between The Loch Tummel boat of Lorne and Ben and Jamie and Neil from the Holy Loch - Jamie and Neil again taking honours.

Saturday evening saw much use of the Rocketeer - the local chippie down by the clubhouse, and festivities in the clubhouse bar. And, of course, the welcome sponsorship from Stewart Brewing always helps to make for a convivial evening.

Sunday started with decent winds again, and both fleets headed out to their respective courses. Personally, I have the greatest admiration for the Oppie and Topper sailors - to see those young sailors heading out, fearlessly, into the North Sea is highly impressive. I'm sure that there must be a few future RS400 sailors there.

Sadly, Lorne and Ben didn't make it out on Sunday, so we were down to 2 RS400s. Clearly given Mike/Alan's record we were pretty sure who would be out front - and it was so - Jamie and Neil took all 3 races, hitting 16kts at one point. In fact Mike and Alan bailed after race 5, again having decided to inspect the slot gasket (capsized for those not in the know) - not a great plan in the freezing waters of the North Sea.

Many thanks to the organisers of the regatta - a most enjoyable weekend at a fantastic venue with impressive sea conditions and wind. The whole event ran incredibly smoothly, no mean feat with 120+boats. As always the beach team are particularly appreciated when we return to shore, suitable exhausted, and needing to pull the boats back up the beach and onto the Elcho Green dinghy park.

Thanks also, as ever, to Stewart Brewing, who help to sustain the thirsty sailors during the weekend. Your support, and fine ales, help to keep us going.

Finally, the RS400 demo boat is now available at Largs Sailing Club. If you fancy trying one of the finest, and most fun, double handed hiking dinghies around, then contact to arrange a sail.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1073Jamie ROGERSNeil MCLARENHoly Loch SC11(2)1115
2nd844Lorne BrockbankBen BarronLoch Tummel SC221(DNC)DNCDNC13
3rd1294Mike GRANTAlan BIRSELargs SC(DNF)DNCDNC2DNFDNC18

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