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Daily Reports

Day 5

RS400 Nationals – Day 5

Report - Matt Sheahan; Photos - Sportography

It’s not often you hear applause at the start of a race, not even at the Olympics. But on the 400 course in the last race of the series a loud cheer went up among the Silver fleet seconds after the start gun.

Far from celebrating a fine demonstration of a text book racing departure, the ovation was triggered by unanimous relief that after four attempts, Gold fleet had finally got away. Indeed, those in Gold fleet would themselves have been happy to join in with the celebration had their hands not been tied at the time.

The problem in getting the fleet away for the final race had been down to the breeze and tide. The former had shifted and the latter had pushed the fleet over the line en masse.

The day had started in much the same way, albeit without so many postponements and recalls.

The forecast had suggested very light winds from the west that would back and build later in the afternoon to a peak of around 10-11 knots. And as it turned out, that is exactly what happened. Yet even with a bright clearance in the sky approaching from the west and indicating some form of change, at least half of us decided that the breeze was actually filling in from the right, despite the lack of evidence to support it.

So when the big leftie did arrive the pecking order that had been established throughout the week was thrown into disarray.

Additional confusion reigned for those of us towards the back seeing several of the big dogs just in front, giving us the erroneous impression that we were suddenly doing quite well. Looking astern soon cured that.

The results provided further evidence of the shake up with over night leaders Stewart and Sarah Robertson (1463) scoring a 16th while Francisco and Teresa Lobato (1480) crossed the line in 24th.

Another to get caught out and who should best remain anonymous as he has won two Olympic medals, the Volvo Ocean Race, skippered a British America’s Cup team and was doing his first RS400 Nationals told me between races, “We had said that the breeze would go left as soon as the cloud cleared…….so we went right!”

By way of a contrast, the Silver and Bronze fleets fared much better with Kevin Podger and Heather Chipperfield (1439) adding another bullet to their score, while in Bronze it was Stuart Costigan and Brett Grinnel (1132) that won the first race.

Race 2 took some time to get away but when it did conditions had settled down as the breeze stopped marching to the South and the strength built.

This appeared to be a cue for normal service to be resumed on the scoreboard with many of the top dogs getting back into position.

So when the final race had been run and the numbers totted up, the Robertsons had become 2018 Champions with a six point lead over the Lobatos who were second time runners up, winning the tie break with third placed Alex Barry and Richard Leonard (1144).

In Silver, Kevin Podger and Heather Chipperfield (1439) took the silverware, while in Bronze it was Stuart Costigan and Brett Grinnel (1132) that went home with slightly more shiny stuff in their car than they had arrived with.

Overall the 2018 Nationals and Europeans had been a true championships and challenged everyone at some point during the week with conditions at both ends of the scale. And as the prize giving party went on into the night the challenges continued for many. By the time it came to the dance floor and in the words of the late boxer Henry Cooper, “My mind keeps telling me to do things that my body can’t deliver.”

Didn’t stop us though, afloat or ashore.


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