RS400 Northern Championships sponsored by Rooster ; part of the Rope4Boats Northern Tour and Stewart Brewing Scottish Tour on 11&12th May at South Shields SC.
Another great turnout of 26 competitive teams arrived at South Shields Sailing Club ready to do battle. A light forecast and limp club house flags, but bright sunshine and a warm welcome greeted the competitors and there was some debate in the dinghy park about whether the wind would fill in at all.
True to form the South Shields Wind Gods waved their magic wands and boats were launched into a perfectly timed punchy F3 North Easterly.
After 2 general recalls, race one eventually got underway under the black flag. Mike Simms and Jack Holden (Carsington SC / Itchenor YC) led off the Committee boat end and carefully picked their way up the first beat to lead at the windward mark. The majority of the fleet stayed right down the run, with one or two notable exceptions gaining by splitting from the fleet on the left. Mike and Jack extended their lead and took the win from Sam and John Knight (Bartley SC) and Barrie Thornton and Nick Hunt (Scaling Dam SC) in 3rd.
The windward mark was re-laid for the start of the 2nd race and the line adjusted to take account of the wind gradually clocking right during the course of the 1st race. This time the lead group came in from those who hit the left hand side of the course as the wind oscillated in their favour. Dave Exley and Mark Lunn (Leigh and Lowton SC) capitalised on their first beat fortunes and held their lead to the finish, followed home by Mike and Jack and Sean Cleary and Izzy Robertson (Oxford SC / South Shields SC).
The clouds cleared and the wind eased slightly for the last race of the day, the windward mark was once again tweaked further to the right by the ever diligent PRO David Rowlands. These light and wavy conditions were to the liking of Jon Gay and Amanda Henderson (Lochaber SC) who powered off the middle of the line to lead at the windward mark. Sean and Izzy who were also showing great boat speed in the difficult conditions and eventually took the win from Mike and Jack in second with Jon and Amanda well deserved 3rd. Three races and three different winners so far.
A delicious evening curry feast was provided for all the competitors in the comfortable lounge, all washed down by the local cask ale. In true RS400 tradition, the evening was embellished by a party game – this time Jacob Ainsworth and Kayleigh Grace had conjured up a paper aeroplane throwing competition for everyone from the top floor for the club house to see who get their plane to fly furthest across the dinghy park, whilst missing the various masts of course! This game was followed by the generosity of the Scottish contingent kindly donating their “Hoop of Shame” trophy so that it could be put to use as a balloon inflating device, enjoyed by all except the out of breath blowers! Facebook videos here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rs400/permalink/2260516867365846/
Sunday brought forth glassy, blue sky, high pressure conditions which were boosting tea, coffee and bacon butty sales in the galley. However, no sooner had the AP been raised by the race officer, but amazingly a steady Easterly kicked in. Suddenly all the “no sail” predictors, that had delayed getting changed, were seen hurrying to the changing room in preparation for another days racing.
The fourth race got underway first time in a good F3. Mike and Jack came straight out of the traps to stamp their authority on the event with a win, closely followed by the Ninja Warriors of Locharber grinding out another great result, with Dave and Mark in 3rd.
By the start of the 5th Race the wind was gusting F4 and the tide had come to play, giving those who chose left up the beat a hard time. The starboard layline was also becoming a battle ground as crews fought hard to make the mark against the tide, with many last minute tacks having to be made in an effort to not be caught out. Mike and Jack managed to get ahead of the chaos and lead for the entire race with Wayne Fletcher and Martin Cooper (Scaling Dam SC) tucked in just behind them. Dave and Mark managed to overhaul Wayne and Martin on the planing last downwind leg to take second.
Come the final race, Mike and Jack had wrapped up the event with a race to spare, but the champagne conditions tempted them to stay and fight for the last race. With the wind now a solid F4 gusting F5 and big waves, there was some great downwind surfing action to be had. This time Dave and Mark took the initiative and immediately tacked off from the committee boat end to find themselves in control of the race from the right hand side of the beat closely followed by the ever consistent Mike and Jack. These 2 boats managed to extend their lead in the strengthening wind and finished in that position with Ian Martin and Liam Alcock from South Shields showing great speed to take 3rd place.
A sleigh ride, dream blast back to the club topped off a brilliant event. In his thank you speech, Mike thanked the whole team at South Shields for putting on a great event and we are all very much looking forward to being back next year for the RS400 National Championships.
The £20 RopeforBoats voucher was won by Jacob Ainsworth and the £10 Rope4Boats voucher was won by Nicholas Woodhouse.
The Rooster Mid Fleet Warrior prize was won by Peter Taylor and Rory Williamson from Dalgety Bay SC and the Rooster Endeavour prize was won by Nick Woodhouse and Miles Lilley from South Shields SC.
Onto the real results, and the overall Duckhams award must go to Peter for his zero to hero effort between race 1 and 2. Hero being 2nd to the windward mark in race 2, zero for missing the finishing gate in race 1.
Many thanks to South Shields Sailing Club for another well run event, but they have been awarded the small pintles of shame for thinking that 80 pints of beer would be sufficient to keep Dave and Fraser happy.
The next event on the RS400 Rope4Boats Northern Tour is the Great British Sailing Challenge at Bala Sailing Club on 22/23 June. Look forward to seeing another great turnout.
The next stop on the Stewart Brewing Scottish Tour is the Scottish Nationals at North Berwick, which will no doubt attract the same caliber of tight racing evident this weekend.
Photos courtesy of Tim Olin here:
Report by: David Exley