An early start for the 400s at Findhorn (by Roger Carter)
The 4th round of the JP Watersports Scottish RS400 Circuit saw a trip (for the second time this year) to Royal Findhorn- way up north on the Moray coast where the RS400 is going from strength to strength and is now Scotland's largest fleet. The exceedingly early first race start of 9am on Saturday (due to tide times) didn't put many off and actually encouraged competitors to arrive the night before and fully patronise the luxurious yacht club bar.
The 11-strong fleet emerged bright eyed and bushy tailed to a decent westerly force 3 in the Moray Firth. The first race got underway in the somewhat shifty conditions, the left side paid up the beat and first to the windward mark were locals Stuart and Richard Urquhart, followed closely by a tightly packed fleet. The Urquharts continued to lead the fleet throughout the rest of the race, whilst Roger Carter and Ian Robertson moved into 2nd place only to find themselves fishing with the kite at the last mark. Keith Bedborough and Martin Booth capitalised to take a solid 2nd, closely followed by Neil McLellan and Oli Millingsmith - who must get a special mention for completing their first race of the season without a catastophic failuire of one kind or another.
The wind shifted further left for the next start and Roger / Ian managed to pull off a risky port flyer. This allowed them to get clear and lead the rest of the race as a large right shift after the first beat turned the remainder of the race into somewhat of a procession. The Urquharts managed to close the gap and finish in second, whilst RS200 newcomers and 2013-nationals would-be light-wind hopefuls Chris Perry / Kirsty Lytton scored a solid 3rd. Neil / Oli followed in 4th and Phil Hermiston defended a determined last minute charge from Keith / Martin to take 5th by a boat length.
The early start allowed for an early finish and the fleet were off the water by midday, and were then able to relax and enjoy the nice weather and location, and in some cases, attend a wedding!
There was no let up on Sunday, with a 9am first start again, and the bleary eyed fleet were this time greeted with clouds, rain and some rather sore heads....
This time with more north in the wind it was somewhat more consistent, and slightly stronger. The longer line allowed most of the fleet to make a good start on the port bias line. After a long beat into a nasty chop, the Urquharts arrived at the windward mark first, with a dubious cowboy spurs port tack move from Roger / Ian allowing them to nip in front of Neil and Oli . After the hoist, some kite rigging issues (depsite not actually having bothered to take the kite off on Sat evening) saw a sad return to form and ended Neil and Oli's race , allowing Chris /Kirsty to slip through to 3rd. After some chopping and changing thoroughout the race, it finished in the same order. But unluckily for the Urquharts, they were called OCS, bumping everyone up a position and allowing Keith and Martin to score a 3rd.
Going into the final race, it was still all to play for. The course was unchanged, the breeze was now a solid 4 and the sun still hadn't appeared. After a mistake on the line, Roger and Ian were forced to go round the ends and started behind the fleet. Keith and Martin led the fleet, closely followed by Neil / Oli and the Urquharts. Depsite hooking the windward mark onto his outhaul block Keith continued to lead , but was under a lot of pressure from behind. The Urquharts finally managed to squeeze past Neil and Oli into second, but couldn't catch Keith and Martin who ended the regatta with a bullet - proof that 5-bellies is still the way forward when it's above a F3 in the 400.
The small number of races, and the excellent competition within the fleet, meant that the final results were extremely close. The Urquharts took the event on their home turf. Although being even on points, Roger and Ian took 2nd from Keith and Martin due to their counting two firsts. Several of the fleet are staying on for some Garda practice at the slightly more relaxed Findhorn Week which runs until Friday. The next Scottish 400 event is at Aberdeen and Stonehaven on 11/12 August and with the circuit leaderboard extremely close more tight competition is expected at this excellent wave venue out on the big blue North sea.
1. S Urquhart / R Urquhart - "Spot the Difference" - 5 pts
2. R Carter/ I Robertson - "Chunder Ship" - 6 pts
3. K Bedborough / M S McCrew - "5 bellies" - 6 pts
4. C Perry / K Lytton - "Watch this space" - 9 pts
5. N McLellan / O Millingsmith - "The Kite Rigger" - 10 pts
6. M Slack / S Macbeth - "Robbies old boat" - 18 pts
7. P Hermiston / S Hermiston - "Peroni , fags and Guiness" - 22 pts
8. A McGibbon / P Bellezia - "Garda" - 23 pts
9. R Cowie / G Rendall - "But I thought I won" - 23 pts
10. C Hornsby / M Hornsby - "Learning Curve" - 23 pts
11. J Perry / M Kingsley - "Chris is in trouble"- 27 pts