Although they could have done with a few more knots of breeze on Saturday, eleven RS Elites had two excellent days of racing off Bembridge over the weekend for their South Coast Championships.
With the start of the windward/leeward course set close to Janson on Saturday afternoon in the F2 ESEasterly breeze and a falling tide, the main problem for the race management team led by Jonathan Peel and based onboard Ali Gornall’s Targa (Duma) was getting the leeward gate to behave. The first race got off to an interesting start with three boats OCS (100 – Soak Therapy; 109 – Right Time Too; and 65 – Vagrant); however they all came back (with Right Time Too taking a penalty as well) and were soon battling it out with the rest of the fleet who had quickly split tacks as they made for the windward mark & spreader. After some close racing and a shortening of the course as the breeze looked as if it might drop even further. The question was whether it was going to be 20 – Riff Raff or 65 – Vagrant to cross the line first; in the event it was Vagrant who took it by a few seconds with 67 (More T Vicar) coming in third.
After an excellent start to the second race for most, the fleet soon split as the beat up to the windward mark set about.6nm upwind. Although virtually all kept on the starboard gybe until they reached the lay line for the leeward gate, there was a considerable spread left & right of the course. Riff Raff led Vagrant through the gate with 100 – Soak Therapy close behind but unfortunately for them they got caught up on the line of the gate mark they were rounding which put paid to their chances of victory and left Vagrant with a relatively easy win ahead of Soak Therapy with 110 – Legs Eleven in third.
Except for 109 – Right Time Too who got stuck in a windless hole just after the hooter, the start to the third and final race of the day was another good one. By the time they reached the windward mark, Riff Raff had established a substantial lead ahead of Soak Therapy; and although the latter managed to reduce it by the finish, there was little doubt who was going to win. More T Vicar was third.
Although not quite so sunny, the breeze had gone round to the South West and increased for Sunday morning’s racing. The first race of the day was AP’d when the Race Officer’s view of the line was completely obscured by a boat close to the Committee Boat. There was then a General Recall for the re-start when a large proportion of the fleet over cooked it. Notwithstanding that the second re-start saw Flag U displayed as the preparatory flag, it was still very close with the front runners risking all to get the best position on the line. At the leeward gate first round the leaders were More T Vicar, Riff Raff and Vagrant, however on the beat back to the windward mark, Soak Therapy got it right and took over the lead which they held for the rest of the race. Legs Eleven was second having also made up a lot of ground on the second beat; Riff Raff was third a mere 4 seconds behind.
Flag U was used again for the second race of the day and with the breeze getting up, the start was certainly quite exciting and as in the previous race no hostages were taken! 46 – The Doctor, was the early leader ahead of Vagrant & 44 – Eclipse however as the race developed Legs Eleven took over the lead and Riff Raff managed to move up into second place to finish ahead of The Doctor. Racing was certainly enthusiastic throughout the fleet and even though they were at the back, 89 – Tamborine and 109 – Right Time Too had a slight altercation as they rounded the same gate mark on their second round. Fortunately no damage!
Apart from Soak Therapy who was nearly forced over the line at the start, the start of the sixth & final race of the Championships (again under Flag U) was a little more circumspect. More T Vicar was first to reach the windward mark ahead of Riff Raff and Soak Therapy and despite best efforts by the rest of the fleet to unseat them, they were able to maintain their positions to the finish.
This meant that Russell Peters in Riff Raff was the Championship winner with 10 points; Charlie Egerton-Warburton in Soak Therapy was runner-up with thirteen points and Ossie Stewart in More T Vicar was third with fourteen points on a count back with Paul Fisk in Legs Eleven.