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Photos: Tim Olin

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RS400 Northern Tour South Shields SC

15 Boats headed out to the race line at South Shields sailing club, headed by an impressive local contingent. With a strong and shifty South Westerly breeze blowing from the shore an exciting day racing was in store.

Race one started from a line with an extreme committee boat biased line, ensuring the race officer got a good view as the entire fleet tried to fit through a space 2 meters wide. After the fleet split across the course with the visitors attempting to figure out how the tide and shore were going to affect the racing, Ben Williamson and local Andy Weatherspoon took the lead and held it until the final downwind leg before Ben Robertson and Jenny Douglas sneaked past to take the first win.

With a (slightly) less biased line and a more settled fleet race 2 got underway with an equally crowded start, this time Dave Exeley and Mark Lunn, and Mark Somerville and Joe Roberts found their legs to take first and third with Ben and Andy taking second again.

This final race of the day saw Dave and Mark stretching their lead with a clear first place followed by Mark and Joe making good use of the shifty offshore conditions. Locals Jacob Ainsworth and Kayleigh Roberts followed up in third place.

As always South Shields was extremely welcoming, everyone enjoyed the evening barbeque in the rare summer sunshine. The local sailors did a great job of keeping the fleet fed and watered despite some certain demanding visitors who couldn’t survive the night without their ice (I hope you bought Kayleigh a drink Dave….).

Sunday started hot with a promising northerly breeze, after fuelling up on bacon rolls and coffee the fleet headed to the north bay to take advantage of the new wind direction.

Playing the (sometimes massive) shifts was the name of the game in the North bay, in the first race of the day, Dave and Mark once again showed the fleet their heels despite some dogged chasing from Ben and Jenny, and Mark and Joe.

The form conitinued in race two with some nasty holes in the breeze catching people unawares and up to 30 degrees in shifts making life difficult. Managing to end up on the right side of the shifts were Dave and Mark showing remarkable consistency, this time Ben and Andy managed to avoid the holes to take second with Jacob and Kayleigh chasing.

The final race of the day got started with certain extremely tired crews grumbling about ‘nationals length courses’ and ‘where's my coffee’, despite that the entire fleet failed to notice the shorten course flag being raised after two laps and decided to sail a third for some fun. Mark and Joe managed to make the rest of the fleet look slow with a convincing win, well done to locals Ian Martin and David Robertson for finding some phenomenal shifts to take second, with Dave and Mark sneaking into third past Ben and Jennys upturned boat (the hull was full of water, honest guv).

Well done to Dave Exeley and Mark Lunn for taking a convincing win in the South Shield RS400 traveller. Thank’s very much to everyone at South Shields for putting on an excellent weekend racing in some challenging conditions, and looking after the fleet so well in the evening.

Ben Robertson

Results at http://www.halsraceresults.com/crs/crs.aspx?DSKey=1094

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