18 RS400’s arrived at Datchet to join in with an entire suite of RS fleets from Feva’s to 800’s.
Saturday began with the most detailed of briefings from Barry Peters who was soon to become the voice of the club. And what a club, Barry introduced us to the views of Windsor Castle, the 1.8 mile lake with 87ft of water depth and ancestral history as a dodgy night club called Queens where the bouncer was the inspiration for Vinnie Jones’ character in Lock Stock and 2 smoking Barrels. Not your usual briefing by a long chalk.
The 400’s were on the southern course with the single handed classes as start 1 and the 800’s as start 2. With no more than 7 knots of breeze the first upwind leg saw a very frustrating beginning for all the fleets. It was as if you were sailing with a hull full of water and the shifts seemed to move with every 747 that flew overhead. Nick Craig and ‘Elastic Tastic’ Toby took an early lead which was handy as no one was really sure that a 3 on the back of the committee would translate in to 3 leeward mark rounding’s and then a full extra lap of the entire course so we all just followed them. This was to become a pattern for every race.
Positions 2-10 was a very different story with 1379, 1275 1231, 1236, 1344 1051, and 955 all mixing it up for the top spots in very close racing both upwind and down. ‘Karaoke’ Caroline and her new super crew Elaine Jones in 1379 were putting down and incredible pace nipping at Craig and Elastic Tastic’s heels all the way round to finish second ahead of Jasper and ‘Slim’ Sexton in 1275 ahead of Dan Martin and his new Fireball helm Mark “Great Balls of Fire” Heather in 3rd.
The second race saw a slightly more defined breeze settle from the south west with only 50-60 degree shifts occurring upwind. First out of the gates with a quick tack on to port to sail across the fleet was 1344 James “Cowboy” George and Izzi “Hike Harder” Mitchell it was not to last as a good solid shift put Craig and Elastic in to first place within minutes. The ensuing 3 laps would see 1231 1236 1263 955 and 1344 all vying for the top positions with 1275 Jasper and Slim and 1379 Karaoke and Jones match racing each other in the lower single figures positions. Eventually 1344 the Cowboy and Hike Harder stepped in to 2nd place overtaking the Martin brothers in 1231 on the final run. followed by the Bailey Brothers in 1263 in 3rd spot.
The final race of the day was to be started in almost idyllic conditions of beautiful crimson sunset behind the oldest castle in the world mixed in with a gentle breeze of 4-5 knots and the dulcet tones of the safety Rib and British Airways finest Ladies of the sky every 45 seconds. With only 2 laps this time or was that 1 lap. Karaoke Whitehouse and Jones stepped in to a convincing 2nd place behind Craig and Elastic followed by Jasper and Slim 1275 and Great balls of Fire and Martin in 1236. With a difference of opinion in the number of laps – 1021 Bennett/Sarjanston and 1344 Cowboy/Mitchell headed for home a lap early only realising at the last minute it was a 2 lap race giving places to 1236 Balls of Fire/Martin to then see the race become processional and the final finishing positions were to be unchanged giving Craig /Tastic their 3rd win of the day to be first overall 1379 Whitehouse/Jones in 2nd and 1275 Jasper/Slim in 3rd and the Wilsonians – Mark Heather and Dan Martin take 4th giving them joint 4th place with 1344 overall.
The boats packed away in near darkness as the final preparations for the RS party and evening’s entertainment were underway.
Sunday began with an early hangover as the Larger than Life Barry Peters had kindly reminded us we had a 10am start. With Memories of “I will walk 500 miles” for the operatic vocals of Karaoke Caroline Whitehouse or is it Winehouse still echoing across the dinghy park we set out for a very light wind start.
With no more than 4 knots a 3 lap race was started with incredible frustrations being felt by all crews. Difficult shifts and once again turbulence from the Rolls Royce Trent Engines meant the boats did not feel to be performing correctly. Craig and Elastic took an early lead again this time followed by the Martin Brothers and Jasper and Slim. The 3 laps took exactly an hour to complete and saw changes across the entire fleet with Matt and Ellie Sheehan in 1051 making enormous gains up the second beat only to slip back down in the downwind. The Bennett Brothers competing against each other were having a good tussle for the first 2 laps seeing 955 Pete and Alicia leading 1021 Roger and Lesley. Sadly it was not to be as 1021 broke away in a good 3rd upwind leg to place 6th behind the Karaoke Queen in 1396 in 5th with Pete and Alicia finishing 8th
Race 2 saw Nick Craig and Elastic Tastic show everyone how to do a stalled start accelerating from nothing straight off the start line. Sadly they were slightly over and had to go back opening up an opportunity for the rest of the fleet to take a first place. 1275 took the lead with 1344 following close behind but it was not long before that sound of mainsheet ratchet from 1383 was close behind, infact, it was the first leeward mark (How does he do that??). By half way up the second beat Craig and Elastic were back in first place with Jasper and Slim pushing them hard often taking the lead back. The final downwind leg saw 1344 pull in front of 1275 to take second position and 1275 take 3rd.
With it all to play for the final race was an important one with 1236, 1344 and 1379 all in close contention for place 3 overall as it was already a sealed deal that Craig elastic were first and 1275 Japser and slim 2nd.
With very close upwind racing between the Karaoke Queen and Jones, Balls of Fire and Martin and the cowboy and hike harder it was to be an infringement at the second upwind mark which would decide the fate of the places. 1236 were called as windward boat which led to a protest call from 1344 to be seconded by a protest call from 1379 forcing them to do their turns which they did with some style and flair it must be said. This gave breathing space to 1344 who would eventually catch 1379 in the final upwind to lead a very closely fought final downwind ahead of 1379 and 1236. The final upwind say the Martin Brothers in 1231 also loose out to Jasper and Slim in 1275 making the final race results Craig tastic 1st 1275 2nd, 1231 3rd 1344 4th and 1379 5th.
Congratulations to all of the crews who put up with highly frustrated helms and a special thank you to Caroline Whitehouse for the glorious singing which has left smiles across the fleet- we all wish you good luck in getting that second baby for 2013 and yes I’m sure it will make you faster.