RS400 Rope4Boats Northern Tour Finale at Notts County Sailing Club
Flood warnings, cold weather, and on the morning fog and light winds – nothing seemed to put off the 30 boats that arrived at Notts County Sailing Club on 9/10th November for the RS400 Open, part of the RS400 Rope4Boats Northern Tour. Competitors travelled from Shoreham on the south coast, Bassenthwaite, Lochaber, and many other areas in between.
This was the last event in the record attended Tour. 3 of the boats competing were all in with a chance of taking the title:
The fog soon cleared, though the wind was calm, obligingly at around noon the wind was just strong enough from the forecast direction in order to get a race underway. The PRO Nadina Lincoln and her Race team set up a trapezoid course across the width of the lake to enable a long enough lap, but which still gave windward leeward racing. Three races were then held back to back.
The first race got away at the second attempt after the Race Team carried out their threat of hoisting the black flag and also lengthening the line. Even then there was little free space with which to wriggle into the front row. The leaders rapidly established themselves, mainly from the starboard end of the line, but with the light wind coming over the hill behind the River Trent, the shifts were brutal in their choice of who should win and who should loose. Somehow the usual suspects ended up at the front, Sean Clearly and Annalise Nixon (Oxford SC) taking the win from Mike Sims and Mark Lunn (Carsington SC). Wayne Fletcher and Martin Cooper (RYA) showed the form that they are well known for and crept up from around 8th position on the penultimate lap to take 3rd at the line.
At the second race start the majority were looking to the committee boat end for salvation and with a right hand shift came through in the final countdown, some were unable to stop themselves from advancing across the line resulting in a “BFD” trip back to the shore to sample Pauline’s tea and scones in the galley whilst, the rest of the fleet wiped the sweat from their brows and got stuck into the next start, which this time got away cleanly. The wind remained light (5-7 kts) and with the number of boats on a relatively small course, good mark roundings and clean air were essential to progressing up the fleet. Mike and Mark held off Richard Catchpole and Gary Coop (Leigh and Lowton) these being 2 of the 3 boats who could possibly win the Rope4Boats Northern Tour (Chris Pickles and Matt Sharman (Bassenthwaite SC) being the third contender for Tour glory). Sean and Annalise finished third.
The third race started in a little more wind, and once again Mike and Mark consolidated from a good start with Richard and Gary finishing in 2nd and Sean and Annalise in 3rd. All day racing was very close and competitive. At least the threatened rain held off, though the water level was much higher than normal as the adjacent brook flowed into the lake. Rumours of a Trent Tidal effect were unfounded.
A delicious roast and sweet was served to the competitors courtesy of Pauline, along with the odd pint/ glass of wine and more as the social got under way. Paul Reynolds, the RS400 Fleet Captain hosted a popular quiz which was won by a travelling amalgamation of West Riding and Leigh and Lowton brain boxes. Shots followed a special “Mr and Mrs” Game Show send-off for Sean and Annalise, who are soon to be emigrating to warmer New Zealand shores.
Sunday saw a little more wind and that rare commodity blue sky and sunshine, lifting the spirits.
The fourth race got started still under black flag, but this time with no disqualifications. Nadina and her team now had the full length of the lake to play with in the Northerly 8-11kts and were able to set a long windward leeward course, just what the doctor ordered. This time a tightly packed pin end saw some mis-timing their approach and having to gybe around and then duck more or less the entire fleet. Both left and right paths paid upwind on the first beat, but Richard and Gary were the bravest down wind, hugging the Easterly shore and benefiting from clear air and nice pressure. They extended and took the win staking their claim once again to the Tour Trophy. Sean and Annalise came home in second and Mike and Mark third. The race was completed in good time allowing all to come ashore, or to hove-too observing two minutes silence in remembrance of the fallen. Soon after 11.02, the windward mark was moved left due to a westerly shift and racing was off again with the final two races back to back.
The fifth race saw a split off the start line, with those holding onto the left up the first beat coming out smelling of roses. Unfortunately for them, the top three to this point, all chose the right, and now the race opened up showing some fresh faces at the front. Jon Gay and Amanda Henderson (Lochaber SC) made up for not sailing through the line in race 4 and led around the windward mark, closely followed by Dave Exley (Leigh and Lowton SC) and local favourite Izzy Reynolds. These 2 boats exchanged places during the race, but extended on the rest of the fleet, with Dave and Izzy taking the bullet from Jon and Amanda. Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse (West Riding SC) finally got a familiar sniff of the front and came in third.
So, with the top three all having a large result in Race five, there could be no more mistakes. The last race was going to decide the event and the overall Tour results. Any of the top 3 (after race 5) could win the event on the last race, Mike and Mark needed a first or second to win the event, so it was in their hands. However, if Richard and Gary won the race, with Mike and Mark second, Mike would still win the event, but more importantly, Richard would have the last laugh and still win the Tour overall! In the end Sean and Annalise had an ever consistent 3rd place, Wayne and Martin had a well-deserved second place, but Mike and Mark held their nerve and took the race win, and with it the event and also wrapped up the Rope4Boats Norther Tour Title, on count back from Richard and Gary and Chris and Matt – all three boats finishing the Tour on 8 points!! Drama!
Mike thanked the race team for great courses and organisation and the club for once again providing a warm welcome.
Rope4Boats provided a random prize raffle for all present. Rope4Boats hats were won by Martin and Moira Hart from NCSC and Ian Watkins and Imogen Watkins from Oxford SC. A £10 Rope4Boats Gift Voucher was won by James and Philipa Logan from NCSC and the £20 Rope4Boats Gift Voucher was won by Mike Sims.
We look forward to the 2020 Northern Tour being as well attended as this year. Thanks to Rope4Boats for their ongoing sponsorship, which is due to continue next year. The 2020 calendar will be published very soon.
More photos on the NCSC website:
Thanks to Dave Exley for this report and once again for organising this fabulous tour. The dates for 2020 are almost all inplace already - have a look here and get them in your diary