A big fat high pressure system had decided to park itself over the best part of the British Isles, so competitors were greeted with wall-to-wall sunshine, but sadly no wind. At the competitors briefing the PRO Howard Steavenson was still hopeful for a Sea Breeze and so the Team set off towards the Southern Bay to set a course with a view to releasing boats from the shore once the wind appeared. Four and a half hours of blazing sunshine and the ultimate in Race Officer patience later, with only a maximum of 2kts being recorded, the heroic race team decided to abandon racing for the day and returned to the Sailing Club without a single sailor having to leave the shore – On behalf of all the competitors, thank you race team, for sitting out there so that we didn’t have to.
Pizza followed by a buddy quiz sounds like a great evening to look forward to – let’s hope that the lack of sailing doesn’t have any unexpected consequences for hangovers tomorrow morning.
Report by Dave Exley
Photos: Tim Olin olinphoto.co.uk
The launching area was a narrow slippery concrete ramp that at low tide ended short and became very soft sand.
My trolley had those run flat plastic tyres that simply sank up to the axles and required the assistance of at least 8 other competitors to lift boat and trolley up and a further 10 metres into the Tyne.
Appologies for the crews behind who were then delayed.
About 40 mins later we arrived at the race course where the RO was just finishing the course setup.
Race 1. Three false starts.... too many had drifted over the line prematurely, however at the fourth attempt the fleet had cracked it and in a 4 knotter off we went....
Now we are firm Bronze fleet members and of course the key is not to be sandwiched between two Gold fleet boats on the start.
We had been planning this tactic all month. So why may you ask did 1342 end up on the start line fractionally behind Mr Sims and Mr S Knight?
So after proverbially waving goodbye to them after 50 meters we looked around to locate the usual suspects that surround us towards the rear end of the fleet.
Trying to keep the boat driving forward in a v light breeze, was for us the key and likewise downwind the kite full 100%
4 laps later the winners Nick and Toby had not quite lapped us......
Race two started in a similar vein. Masterfully crossing the start line between two outstanding fleet hotshots...
You can kinda guess that outcome..
The trip back after racing involved been told upon entering the harbour.... a large vessel was coming out so stay close to the South harbour wall...... only to get yelled at by the fisherman whose lines appeared to be at least a quarter of a mile out from where they cast.
Nick and Toby were first back to their trolley.
2-0 to them.
Great day on the water in bright sunshine shorts and rash vests!
Report by Max Tosetti
The RS400 fleet were very pleased to see double the wind of the previous day with 5 knots showing on the start boat – not enough to set pulses racing but thankfully enough to fully fill spinnakers!
In the light opening race, the Cockerills sailed an inch perfect race tactically balancing the tricky mix of tide, shifts and pressure differences to lead from start to finish, ahead of Nick Craig/Tobytastic and Mike Simms/Mark Lunn. Top Scots Neil McLellan/Ewan judged the heavily tide affected layline into the last windward mark perfectly to snatch 3rd from Simms/Lunn. Between races the wind built and we were treated to a dolphin diving display, the day was getting better!
Race 4 was the best yet with a building breeze and nice waves allowing surfing downwind. Tobytastic nailed every wave to lift Craig/Lewis through the top 10 downwind for a race win from fast upwind Simms/Lunn with Ollie Groves/Sam Waller liking the more exciting conditions to finish 3rd.
The breeze faded a little during race 5 as did competitors brains. The race will be remembered for a lot of confusion and a long evening of protests. At the end of lap 2, Simms/Lunn were leading from Groves/Waller but one of the leeward marks had drifted creating confusion on whether there was still a leeward gate or a port rounding single leeward mark, some thought the shortened course flag was up so tried to finish and then the last windward mark was in the back of RIB heading North at 10 knots as we approached it.
Initial results showed locals Nick Woodhouse/Miles Lilley, the only boat to sail the correct course, as race winners with everyone else DNF. That triggered a flurry of redress protests so current results now show Woodhouse/Lilley as popular race winners with everyone else re-instated behind these local heroes. So that put the Cockerills in 2nd, Craig/Lewis 3rd and Simms/Lunn 4th, ruing their attempt to finish a lap early.
The evening social was again excellent with the fleet enjoying a very tasty hog roast and a long game of killer pool with 9 year old supercrew Matthew Boatman beating most of the adults whilst they awaited the outcome of the protests.
At the half way mark, there are 14 points between the top 4 so a lot to race for and with high winds forecast for today’s triple race day, it should be fun!
Report by Nick Craig
Thursday- it is very rare in the 400 fleet that a bar has stopped sailing, but with a very strong north easterly wind and the tide flooding out of the harbour, a large confused sea had built up at the entrance and with strong winds and large two meter plus waves outside, the race team wisely deemed it unsafe and racing for the day was called off. Everyone headed to find quieter bars and culture. A prize giving, AGM, and a delicious tagine meal from the South Shields catering team was rounded off with a lively band, Moondance.
Day 4 and overall
Friday dawned with a steady north north easterly wind and one to two metre rolling waves left over from Thursday. After a short delay while a couple of volunteer boats went out to test the bouncy conditions for getting out of the entrance, watched by the fleet, we followed them to the sailing area.
Once out of the harbour entrance, a steady bear away and a few minutes to get the feel of the waves, kites went up and the boats took off! The waves were long, deep and rarely breaking and once the first nervous gybe was done, it was sit back and enjoy some of the longest downhill sled rides I'd ever done.
The race officer was ready, and the 3 races were turned around efficiently. The first start saw silver fleet supremo Neil McClellan port tack the fleet and hang on for 6th.
The second race saw the tide starting to change. The fleet divided but arriving at the top mark close together and giving space to each other as tacking could knock you off your feet. After the bear away and surf off down the waves it was noticeable that the crews were working even harder than usual with hands a blur to avoid being the ones who trawled the kite.
Mike Simms and Mark Lunn took the first race, preventing Nick Craig and Tobytastic Lewis a clean sweep.
On returning to shore, tired sailors were buzzing with their surfing tales.
The biggest cheer at the prize giving went to Matthew Boatman, aged 9 who with his dad Danny, showed having completed all the races and finished a credible 20th in the 50-strong fleet, that he will be one to watch in the future.
The silver fleet trophy went to Neil McLellan and Ewen Rycroft, who will certainly be promoted to gold next year. Dave and Sophie Stockton won in the bronze fleet. All prize winners took home vouchers generously donated by title sponsor TridentUK.
Race Officer, Howard Steavenson’s persistence in achieving 8 races did a great service for the competitors and club.
Many of the newer sailors and South Shields club members commented on what a friendly. Inclusive fleet the RS400s are, but the real praise and thanks must got to the volunteers of South Shields Sailing Club, as one sailor put it “a big hand to South Shields Sailing Club for managing some very, very tough, random cards – COVID, no wind, lots of wind, COVID, horrible/awesome waves and Spring tides; so many people putting in such a massive effort so that we could go sailing”. There are too many individuals to list, but special thanks must go to Commodore Jason Riby, Tony Shiels, Niall Graham, Yvonne and James Henry.
Last, but not least, this event would not have happened without the efforts of fleet chair Jacob Ainsworth and Kayleigh, planning and re-planning every last detail for the last 2 years. Jacob’s comment? “Can’t wait for East Lothian next year!”.
Save the date: RS400 Nationals 2022, East Lothian YC 8th-12th August
Report by Nicky Griffin
Photos thanks to Tim Olin, full gallery and high res photos available to buy here