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RS Aero UK Women's Championship at Lymington Town Sailing Club

by Camilla Sellars 9 Jul 16:27 BST 6-7 July 2024
RS Aero UK Women's Championship at Lymington Town Sailing Club © Lymington Town SC

Last weekend saw Lymington Town SC host 24 women for the RS Aero UK Women's Championship and coaching weekend. With the choice of four rig sizes, and the Women's Championship was competed for in the two smaller Classes, the RS Aero 5 and 6.

Women of all ages had travelled from as far afield as Germany, Switzerland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. With a growing fleet of RS Aeros in Lymington, we also had four or five local ladies taking part in the weekend.

The Saturday was a training day, and top RS Aero sailors Andrew Frost, Sammy Isaacs-Johnson and Peter Barton were on hand to offer tips and advice. The wind was piping at 20-30kts so the decision was made to start with some land-based coaching. It was great to hear all about boat set-up, rigging and hiking techniques and to have the opportunity to ask questions. The coaches and more experienced sailors shared a wealth of useful information with us all and many notes were taken! After a few hours of talking about RS Aeros, most of us were keen to get out on the water once the wind lulled.

A few decided wisely that the conditions were too much for them and some went in the ribs to learn from there., The rest of the fleet launched into 16-18kts of gusty westerly wind against tide. Conditions soon piped up again and I wasn't the only one to capsize before leaving the river, and by the time we hit the Solent it was clear we were in for quite an exciting challenge! Too much so for most, and as the coaches and safety crew realised a large portion of the fleet were unable to keep their boats flat (or even the right way up), they told us to head home.

We all enjoyed a screaming broad reach on the plane back towards the wave barrier with a few staying out to revel in the conditions. We were all buzzing, albeit relieved to be ashore, and after a constructive debrief we enjoyed dinner at the club together, entertained by the football as Switzerland and England battled it out on penalties.

The conditions for Sunday's racing were expected to be calmer, but still breezy. The entries had been fairly evenly split between RS Aero 5 and RS Aero 6, but several sailors decided wisely to switch down to the smaller RS Aero 5 rig, to better cope with the high winds.

As reached the race area, a squall hit, followed by a period of relative calm as we started our first race in about 12kn, which was to be two laps of a trapezoid course. Anka Staite spotted the port bias start to cross the fleet with a good lead off the line in the RS Aero 5s. As the wind increased quickly up the short beat to about 18kn Iona Willows powered through to the lead by the top mark.

The wind continued to build, along with the sea state, and as we embarked on our second race it became apparent that many of the sailors were overpowered and struggling with the 20+kt conditions. For the smaller sailors who usually sail an RS Aero 5 there was no option but to crank on all the controls for maximum depowering and hope for the best, whilst practicing the top-tips from the day before. With rolling seas, several capsizes and a sketchy downwind leg proving overly challenging for some (I can only imagine what it must have felt like for the lake sailors from the continent!) the race committee took the decision to finish the Championship after two short races and send us all back in.

Congratulations to the new Women's RS Aero 6 Champion Caroline Whitehouse (Bartley SC) who was new to the class but who sailed brilliantly and now looks forward to buying an RS Aero! The new Women's RS Aero 5 Champion is Iona Willows (Lymington Town/Dorchester SC) who with her experience seemed completely unfazed by the extreme conditions, not her first rodeo!

Thanks must go to all the coaches, support crews, organisers and of course Lymington Town SC, who made this a really great weekend for all of us. Many thanks to our Class sponsors, Rooster, who supported with a generous spread of awards for the prize-giving.

Let's hope for even more women next year to celebrate this special RS Aero event, and a bit less wind!

*It is nice to see 28 women currently signed up for the RS Aero World Championships at Hayling Island SC next month. The RS Aero 5 Class is over 50% female, with 20 females within the current entry so far of 37!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubCountryCategoryR1R2Pts
RS Aero 5
1st3330Iona WillowsLymington Town/Dorchester SCGBR 112
2nd1006Sophie StocktonMaidenhead SCGBR 325
3rd2811Anka StaiteHayling Island SCGBRMaster235
4th3262Cath HoughLee‑on‑Solent SCGBR 549
5th4285Isabelle MartinDalgety Bay SCGBRMaster4610
6th4597Reenie HyettManx SCC Isle of ManIoMYouth6511
7th1634Camilla SellarsRoyal Lymington YCGBRMaster8816
8th1111Izzy LangmanExe SCGBRMaster12719
9th3870Abby Keightley‑HansonLymington Town SCGBR 7DNF27
10th2075Susan BannisterHayling Island SCGBRMaster9DNF29
11th1205Penny LukeFelpham SCGBRMaster10DNF30
12th1507Lettie HyettManx SCC Isle of ManIoMYouth11DNF31
13th1209Nana RauschSC Freia GERMaster13DNF33
14th1398Elizabeth Hill‑SmithPapercourt SCGBRMaster14DNF34
15th1793Alexandra StuderSC Hallwil SwitzerlandSUI 15DNF35
16th1746Barbara OlbrichSV Biblis GERMaster16DNF36
17th1396Anuschka PauluhnSC Hallwil SwitzerlandSUIMaster17DNF37
18th3700Georgina HaversLymington Town SCGBRMasterDNFDNC40
18th4320Josie KellyFelpham SCGBRYouthDNCDNC40
RS Aero 6
1st4400Caroline WhitehouseBartley SCGBRMaster112
2nd4500Cathy LunnLeigh and Lowton SCGBRMaster224
3rd4183Catherine HemsleyFelpham SCGBRMaster336
4th1750Claire TuttleBrixham and PaigntonGBRMaster45DNF9

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