RS400 Nationals – Day 2
Report - Matt Sheahan; Photos - Sportography
There is nothing quite like a delay to raise the anxiety levels on a breezy day. Sometimes it’s easier to simply get stuck in than to wait, but the second day of racing was as simple as that.
The forecast for Day 2 of the RS400 fleet Nationals had pointed towards a fair amount of breeze. Talk of 20-28 knots was commonplace around the dinghy park the night before and by morning it was a reality.
Deep down inside most of us knew that on the one hand this was clearly going to be a breezy day, and yet not breezy enough to warrant leaving the covers on and heading to the local dinosaur museum.
But for many the wait to get going was the real killer. Watching the flagpoles bend to the breeze as dark patches scurried across the water accompanied by a soundtrack of flapping of halyards and flogging sails did little to settle the nerves.
With just one day of racing to go until the end of their event, the 800’s, 700’s, 300s and 100s were ahead of us in the queue to head out into Portland Harbour. But with the breeze refusing to dip below 30 knots in the start area they were held ashore until eventually their racing was canned for the day.
By lunchtime the 400s were now at the front of the queue and waiting for the call.
When it came it was time to put down the skinny lattes, swap the gilet for a wetsuit and get back into racing mode. It wasn’t easy, especially for those like Caroline Whitehorse and Tony Cliff (1414) who had decided that lunch off site was the order of the day only to be told by phone that the fleet had launched without them and that they were late. Thirty seven minutes later they were rigged, afloat and in the start zone – an impressive Le Mans style performance.
For the rest of us the fast downhill blast to the start area had confirmed that Day 2 would be a punchy affair. And it was.
Aside from several capsizes the day was a war of attrition for many with gear issues causing the bulk of the problems.
David Swift and Rob Burgess (934) were forced to retire when a puddle developed on their foredeck. An unconventional reason perhaps, but when they realised that the longitudinal stringers had failed under the deck causing the entire structure to invert, they were relieved that they had called it a day before a more expensive failure occurred.
Meanwhile, Sean Cleary (1377) was asking his crew what had gone wrong in a gybe in the first race as he swam back towards the boat. His crew, Annalise Nixon, simply pointed to the rudder that she was swimming for that was drifting off downwind. From there it was a short conversation.
Even some of the rock stars were ending up in the drink as Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin (1454) traded what would have been another top performance for a swim and a 7th in the first race yet they still remain 3rd in the overall rankings, tied with Alex Barry and Richard Leonard (1144).
But there were others that continued to excel in the strong breeze.
Top of the tree is James Downer and Jono Price (1385) who, after four races, are discarding a 1st – says it all really.
They are currently chased in the overall stakes by Francisco and Teresa Lobato (1480), just two points behind.
Day 3 promises to be a lighter affair and a change of gear, with less pre-start anxiety for all but those of us that are carrying a few extra pounds and a lack of talent.
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