Chilly champagne for Scottish RS 400 Championships, by Stewart Robertson
East Lothian Yacht Club, North Berwick, 2/3 June 2012
A healthy entry of 17 entries arrived for the 400 champs held this year as part of the annual ELYC regatta. The 400s formed the largest class in the event which was held in sunny easterlies and rather lower temperatures than most would have preferred. This fact could not detract from the champagne conditions served up otherwise , where waves and wind combined to offer some fantastic downwind sailing and challenging upwind legs. On Saturday conditions were coped with by most but on Sunday an increase in wind resulted in spinnakers being played at times to avoid somersaulting on the wave in front and upwind tacks had to be made to avoid lumps of water that could result in crews sprawled across the boat.
On Saturday a feature of the day was starting with the tide under the fleet and several boats were caught out by being a little too far forward. The first race was won by Mr & Mrs Robertson closely followed by the Urquhart twins, Stuart and Richard, from Findhorn, new into the fleet and establishing themselves as serious contenders from the outset. Third was Pete Snowdon who was always close to the front on Saturday apart from when testing the waters. The second race was won by Mr & Mrs again with Wayne Fletcher second holding off Keith Bedborough (yes – Keith!) and crew Martin Booth in third. The third race was closely fought with various place changes, Jim Sinclair and Tom Watson proving worthy winners following a self- confessed OCS by the Urquharts. The elder Robertsons followed up with Kevan Gibb crewed by long- suffering, son Callum in third.
On Saturday night the local curry house was monopolised by the joint 200/400 fleet and after a huge feed and several Cobra beers the more energetic (/foolhardy) retired to the customary “Auld Hoose” pub for some additional refreshment. The Urquhart twins were seen to ditch their last round of beers and this was duly noted as unsportsmanlike conduct by the class rep.
Sunday dawned windier and colder and after a delayed start got off with Neil McLennan leading at the first mark. Conditions were such that ‘issues’ became problems and Neil unfortunately had a bit of a crash which left him out of action for the rest of the day. Keith and Martin were first to the last top mark following an increase in the wind and held on to finish first thereby removing any further performance excuses from now on. Ben Robertson with 13 year old Lewis Smith, sailing in the super lightweight category, were second to the last top mark but unfortunately were blown west of the finish line letting M&D and the Urquharts through. The next race wasn’t quite as exciting as the first but wave riding was still much to the fore. Phil Britton reminded himself that he wasn’t past it by being second to the first mark. The elder Robertsons finished first followed by Keith and Martin in second and Stuart and Richard Urquhart in third. The final race was completed with a much depleted fleet and after a closely fought race was won by Jim Sinclair and Tom followed by the Robertsons and the Urquharts.
Special mention is due to Andrew Gibb who cajoled his Father Derek to finish in all the races thereby finishing 7th overall, and Mark Haine’s eight year son (and future 400 star) Ben, who despite his 5 stone mass was completely un-intimidated by the conditions and was even sensible enough to employ a middleman crew assistant on the Sunday to boost the all up weight. Many thanks to ELYC and sponsors JP Watersports , Stewart Brewing and DH systems for an excellent event. The next (1 day) event is in 2 weeks at Loch Tummel SC , followed by a return to Royal Findhorn on 31 June/ 1 July , and then for the keener sailors an overseas expedition to GARDA!
1st Stewart and Sarah Robertson 7 points
2nd Stuart and Richard Urquhart 17
3rd Jim Sinclair and Tom Watson 18
4th Keith Bedborough and Martin Booth 19
5th Pete Snowdon and Pippa Fletcher 21
6th Wayne and Meg Fletcher 23