We've had a great two days of RS Sprints racing at Rutland Sailing Club. Thank you to the super Rutland SC team. The sailors braved bitter cold, snow, hail, and shifting winds on Saturday, followed by strong sunshine and steady breeze on Sunday.
A good mix of fleets raced: single hander RS300s and RS Vareos, double hander RS Fevas, RS200s, RS400s, RS500s, and 2000s.
Thank you to Rooster for sponsoring our Rooster National Tour and to Noble Marine for their support.
Sailing photos thanks to finish boat and Don Munro. Prize winner photos thanks to Harry McVicar's mum.
Congratulations to our RS Sprint 2022 winners:
RS Feva: Dylan Beatty and Oli McKee
RS300: Harry McVicar
RS Vareo: Luke Fisher
2000: Iain and Sarah Yardley
RS500: Peter and James Curtis
RS200: Chris and Nicky Webber
RS400: Rob Gullan and Jack Holden
Event reports: click on fleet name to go direct to that report
Webbers Win RS200 Sprints
Nine RS200s arrived at Rutland Sailing Club for the RS Sprints on the chilly first weekend of April. Overall, it was a weekend of very mixed conditions and consistency and mental resilience to the various ups and downs is what clinched the win for Chris and Nicky Webber from Pevensey Bay SC, following competitive racing and a last-minute protest hearing.
Saturday morning rigging was accompanied by wintery blasts as the RS fleets assembled for the Sprints. The efficient race team from Rutland Sailing Club were on the water early, insistent they would be starting on time and would show no mercy on straggling sailors who had lingered too long over their coffee and bacon rolls! However, the wind did not play ball with this aspiration. As the first gun was due, it reduced from medium conditions down to light, simultaneously backing from North to West. This led to a 45-minute delay while courses were laid and re-laid, and plenty of cold hands.
The wind eventually settled down and the first of the weekend’s twelve races got underway. The East Lothian YC contingent of Ellen Clark and Brendan Lynch, and Laura Glover and John Wilson got off to a strong start, enjoying the gusty conditions to give them a first and second respectively. They joked, after the long drive down from North Berwick, that they could have saved themselves the petrol money.
The benefit of the Sprints central location was soon borne out though, as the Pevensey Bay SC pairs Nicky and Chris Webber, and Lynne Ratcliffe and Matt Fowler, got in the mix in races two and three. Race three saw the Webbers battling qualities as they swept past the Weir Wood SC pairing of Fiona Harrington and Ben Webb, to take a third place at the final mark. This led to a protest pending against the Webbers, and, with no discards allowed, it looked for much of the event that the outcome of this protest would be decisive.
The sixth and final race on Saturday finished with a fresh breeze, and a quick blast downwind home. The race was won by the Clark/Lynch paring, following a close race with the Webbers. The overnight positions showed that it was all to play for the following day, with the top three boats all separated by just one point.
Sunday brought medium conditions with mainly light winds, with only occasional large gusts coming through. However, these gusts provided the opportunity for significant overtakes, with large position changes frequently occurring on the final downwind leg. This was most apparent in race ten, where having been pushed back in the pack early on the Webbers showed their mental resilience and took the opportunity that presented itself. They headed right with the chasing pack, taking a shift and a gust, and swept past the two East Lothian boats and Bennett/Harris pair that were battling their way down the left, all three unsuccessfully searching for a gust to get planing on. This gave the Webbers a crucial first place and allowed them to overtake the current leaders Laura Glover and John Wilson, irrespective of the outcome of the still pending protest hearing.
Strong performances in races 11 and 12 clinched the win for the Webbers even when a disqualification in race three was determined, despite a valiant effort from Clark/Lynch, who only finished one point further back after the 12 races were sailed. Glover/Wilson were third, ahead of Ratcliffe/Fowler in fourth. This meant that the top-fleet prizes were shared out amongst the two boats each from Pevensey Bay SC and East Lothian YC. (Shameless plug: East Lothian YC is a beautiful sailing venue near Edinburgh and the RS400 Nationals venue for 2022 and RS200 Nationals venue for 2023! Put it in your diary now ;) ).
Mid-Fleet Hero prizes went to the Royal Thames YC team of Marta Uncio Ribera and Paris Thomas. The Endeavour prizes went to under 18 team Jacob Lutton and Tom Chapman at their first RS200 event. First under 18 helm prize went to Adam Catlow
All received generous prizes from event sponsors Rooster Sailing and Noble Marine, including engraved metal straws, Rooster National Tour branded Rooster Neck Gaiters, and bottles of real ale.
Our thanks to the event sponsors, the race committee and everyone at Rutland SC; and Clare Sargent and the RS Class Association team.
The Scotland RS200 fleet would also like to use this opportunity to thank Trees for Life, a rewilding charity in Scotland with whom we offset the carbon emissions of our sailing activities and associated travel emissions. Should you wish to join this initiative, you can plant a native tree in the RS200 grove here.
Report by Laura Glover and John Wilson
1st Under 18 Team, 1st RS200 Event and Endeavour: Tom Chapman and Jacob Lutton
1st Under 18 Helm: Adam Catlow
Mid-fleet heroes: Paris Thomas and Marta Uncio Ribera
4th: Matt Fowler and Lynne Ratcliffe
3rd: John Wilson and Laura Glover
2nd: Brendan Lynch and Ellen Clark
1st: Chris and Nicky Webber
RS400 Sprints at Rutland SC 2-3 April, Rooster National Tour Event Number Two
After a two year Covid-enforced break, the RS Sprints finally returned to Rutland on the first weekend in April. For those early entrants, the preceding week had been a nervous one – a forecast barely breaking double figures in either knots or degrees centigrade did not make for an appealing outlook. On arrival, the fleets were both surprised and heartened to see the sun and some breeze over the race course, maybe Rutland was operating its own micro-climate? On opening the car door, it was quickly apparent this was not the case. The pleasant looking Northerly breeze was keeping the temperature well in the Winter gear zone.
Once rigged and changed, the various classes made their way up to the start line. Crews who may only have speculatively packed their hiking pads were pleased to be given the chance to stretch their legs in the building pressure, maybe this wasn’t going to be the drifter we expected? There was just one blot on the horizon… a big snowy, sleetly blot. Threatening clouds soon rolled over the reservoir, miraculously missing the racecourse (sometimes only by a matter of a few hundred feet). These proved to be a race officer’s nightmare, as the wind chased each black cloud back and forth meaning several adjustments and re-adjustments of the course.
Finally the wind settled for long enough for racing to commence, and there was just one question left for the competitors to answer. Was the sequence of buoys black-yellow-black or yellow-black-yellow? Mainly this separated those who read sailing instructions and those who didn’t. Regardless the racing that followed was vintage sprint racing: short and sharp with plenty of gusst and shifts to keep everyone interested. The teams of Sam Knight/Chris Bownes and Rob Gullen/Jack Holden took a couple of bullets each, with the other two going to Steve/Sarah Cockerill and Steve Restall/Chris Stubbs. Everyone had their moments, with the home boat of Jamie Morgan/Jim Lowbridge showing devastating upwind speed in the first two races to round clear ahead at the first mark, and Jon Heissig and Nicky Griffin sniffing out a huge right-hand shift in the third to lead by some distance before being pegged back on the last downwind. In all, a head scratching day for many with no-one being able to dominate the day’s racing.
Back onshore, there was a fairly even split between the ‘stayers’ (at the club) and those who took the opportunity to wander down to the local Wheatsheaf. Those in the pub were entertained late into the evening (at least it felt late?) by stories from the fleet’s very own resident sailing journalist, Matt Sheahan (of PlanetSail) who regaled us with tales of incredible foiling yachts and SailGP helming (virtually). We left having had a thoroughly pleasant evening and not feeling in the least bit jealous!
Back on the water for day two, the wind had once again found an extra bit of oomph over the forecast, meaning another tiring day for the crews with just enough for some decent hiking. In opposition to the day before, this was a much more routine affair with Rob and Jack hitting top form in the third race of the day. Seemingly able to navigate the short and tricky first beat with ease and going on to take four bullets on the trot, they took the event emphatically away from the chasing duo of Steve/Sarah and Sam/Chris, who finished in that order. With ten points separating the top three, the next two (Steve/Chris and Jon/Nicky) were only separated on countback showing how close some of the racing had been.
Thanks must go to the incredible race team at Rutland for hosting another fabulous event, turning all 12 races around efficiently and keeping the race courses perfectly sized for some great sprint racing. We are looking forward to returning next year 22-23 April 2023. Thank you to RS400 National Tour sponsors Rooster and RS Class Association sponsors Noble Marine.
Report by Sam Knight
Six back to back races around a snug course that not only had two windward leeward legs per helping, but a couple of tight reaches to add an element of brinksmanship when it came to the kite hoists.
Then, on the second day do it all over again. What’s not to like? According to some of the crews quite a lot when it came to the top reaching leg. Turns out it was quite hard for crews to pull off the perfect slick hoist when their helms refused to drop below the lay line despite having called for the hoist in the first place.
Had the weather played to the forecast on the first day things would have been simpler. Hoisting in 6-8 knots is pretty easy whichever direction you’re heading. But, what hadn’t been clear on the popular weather apps was a trough line that was making its way in from the North Sea bringing sharp showers and even snow across and around Rutland Water. In fact, it was the showers that passed to the sides that caused the most fun as the icy breeze that cascaded out of them, hit the land and fanned out across the water causing the wind speed to get into the high teens, the direction to change significantly and the temperature to drop like a stone. In between, it was glorious Spring sunshine and a gentle gradient breeze.
The result was a fantastic weekend of racing where nothing could be taken for granted other than the position of the windward mark which was deftly moved by the race officer to create the best windward leg given the conditions at the time. The rest of the marks stayed largely in place which meant that while we had some quiet downwind legs to practice soaking down, we had full bore three sail hiking fests for others with the challenge of a tight reach to deep run gybe at the bottom.
On Saturday in the 11 boat fleet, Sam Knight and Chris Bownes (1376) took the first result and set the early pace before Rob Gullen and Jack Holden (1505) delivered a win in the second. After that it was Steve and Sarah Cockerill (1515) who made their aspirations clear by taking the third race. By the fifth it was Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs (1189) who took the top slot before Rob and Jack wrestled it back for the last race of the day. On the face of it Sunday promised another scrum among the big dogs.
But the second day was very different. No weather troughs, no towering cumulus clouds and no showers, the breeze was also a more modest 7-10 knots throughout the day save for the odd burst into the low teens. And as the six races played out the scoreboard settled down too. According to Jack Holden it took the first two races to figure out that going right on the beat as soon as you could was the only way up the course. Once they had done that (at a cost of a 4th and a 2nd), it was bullets all the way home beating the Cockerills into second by five points, with Sam Knight and Chris Bownes taking third.
Report by Matt Sheahan (1435)
Up on Y&Y here
Endeavour: Matt and Ellie Sheahan
Mid-fleet heroes: Chris Eames and Rachel Tilley
4th: Steve Restall and Chris Stubbs
3rd: Sam Knight and Chris Bownes
2nd: Steve and Sarah Cockerill
1st: Rob Gullan and Jack Holden
RS500 Sprints at Rutland SC 2-3 April, Rooster National Tour Event Number One
A dodgy early week forecast, COVID and fuel costs all combined to restrict the turnout at the first event of the RS500 Rooster 2022 National Tour, which was a real shame as the weather gave us a bit of everything over the weekend (actually over the course of one race!), and the race management gave us 12 races with virtually no waiting between races.
Saturday was bright and sunny, if cold, with a nice steady eight knots all the while we were rigging, changing and on our way to the start area; at which point it clouded over, the wind died and started veering all over the place. There were some big rain/sleet clouds around, and although most of them missed us the wind was pretty unstable, leading to an hour of the RO and his team adjusting and re-adjusting the course. In the end we got going and the wind immediately picked up to 15ish knots, leading to race one lasting about 12 minutes on a course that had been set for five knots. John Cooper and Andy Maw got a late shift into the first mark and rounded just ahead of Peter and James Curtis. Team Curtis managed a slightly faster kite hoist and managed to get mark room at the spreader, leading out onto the run. They proceeded to head towards the wrong leeward mark, which turned into a tactical masterstroke as they came back at a very hot angle in a gust and significantly extended their lead. The second beat and final run were a case of keeping a loose cover and not making a mistake.
Race two saw the course slightly extended but the wind was, if anything, slightly stronger. Team Curtis had a small lead throughout, but on the final run John Cooper managed to thread the tiller extension between the boom and mainsheet while gybing, which led to an inevitable swim. The length of time in the water led to them needing to retire ashore for a while to warm-up. Meantime the RO significantly extended the course, leading to an inevitable drop in the wind. Race three was light and race four almost a drifter, taking more than 30 minutes to finish. It started to come back for race five, and Cooper/Maw returned to the fray for race six, having been tempted back by the moderate winds.
At which point, obviously, the wind cranked up a notch or two and shifted about 30 degrees right. Team Curtis managed to reach the top mark first, gybed round the spreader and tried to point at the lee mark; no dice - the wind was blowing 20ish knots and we were on the edge trying to three sail it and not miss the mark by too much. Only trouble was there was a fleet of RS400s beating towards us on starboard, which was quite exciting/alarming given how on the edge we were. The tracker had us at 17.8 knots, which is not too shabby. Both boats successfully avoided the RS400s and two sailed it into the mark. Team Curtis maintained their lead up the beat and had another thrilling three sail reach to finish the day.
Day two started out cold and with a much steadier eight knots or so. It maintained this average speed throughout the day, with occasional gusts that tempted the crews to heat up the runs, not always successfully. The two teams were well matched upwind but team Curtis generally had a slight edge downwind. This meant they had a small lead at the end of the first run in each race of the day. Cooper/Maw were then in the position of trying to spot small advantages on the much longer second beat, and hope that team Curtis didn’t simply cover them. A couple of the races saw a big lead open up when this backfired, but it was generally quite close. Finally, on the last race of the event, they chose the right way to go on the last run and team Curtis didn’t spot the danger until too late. Cooper/Maw got their win.
Many thanks to Rutland Sailing Club for the welcome and the organisation. Once the first fleet got away in the first race the pace was unrelenting. We completed six races on Sunday in three hours. Many thanks too to Rooster and Noble for their sponsorship. The next event is at Filey - remember not to believe the Monday/Tuesday forecast and just be there.
Report by Peter Curtis
Up on Y&Y here
2nd: John Cooper and Andy Maw
1st: Peter and James Curtis
RS Vareo Sprints at Rutland SC 2-3 April, Rooster National Tour Event Number One
I was one of just three RS Vareos to travel to Rutland Water for the RS Sprints the first event of this year’s Rooster National Tour. It was great to sail again with Luke Fisher and Chris Abbott, both are excellent sailors and it was a good chance to get some pointers in improving my own skills.
Unfortunately due to another commitment I could only compete in the first day of this two day event. With that knowledge in mind, at the registration on Saturday morning Clare handed me my third place prizes (a bottle of beer and a natty stainless steel collapsible re-usable drinking straw) before I had even changed!
Although only able to do half of the event I was keen to compete as I’ve never sailed in a sprints before, and with its central location and good access from the A1, Rutland is an easy trip for the day - and any chance to sail with other RS Vareos is always worth taking.
So how do sprint races work? The course for all fleets was the same. The course was “point to point”. A 3,2,1 start then a beat to a windward black mark, turn left for a short reach to a yellow mark, another left turn downwind, hoist the kite, and sail downwind to another pair of black/yellow marks, turn right twice and back upwind again. Beat to another pair of black/yellow marks, two left turns and another downwind leg to a final black mark. Turn left and cross the finish line. Now sail back along the bottom of the course to the start line just in time to see the fleet in front (the RS 400s for us) get away and it’s 3,2,1 and you’re off again. Six races literally back to back.
Arriving at Rutland on a very chilly morning it was clear that the forecast of a light wind of around 6 kt gusting to 10 was going to be blown away! There was a healthy 10-12 kt blowing with some long gusts up to 18kt giving great conditions for most of the short races.
With the race team having laid all of the marks the wind took a dramatic shift just at the time the racing was due to start and a long delay ensued while the course was completely re-laid. Once that was sorted the starts came thick and fast.
With low numbers in other fleets as well, our start was combined with the two RS500s and we were the second fleet.
In race one Chris got caught in irons right on the start line as Luke and I headed off with the RS500s. Luke sailed away quickly and although I was finding the conditions and chop hard going I managed to stay ahead of Chris who didn’t hoist his kite. The wind strength had obviously surprised the race team as the target time of 30 minutes for the race was cut almost in half.
In race two Chris got a much better start and I trailed after him and Luke round the significantly lengthened course. Luke won comfortably and I learned a lot about finding better speed upwind by trying different angles and hiking options!
Race three was pretty much the same as race two with the same result but the wind began to die down in the closing stages.
Before the start to race four Luke encouraged me to be more aggressive and try to win the committee boat end of the start line as there were so few boats and “the RS500s will get out of the way”. With the wind dropping off significantly to much nearer the forecast 6/7 kt I managed a near perfect start while Luke hung back to keep an eye on what I was doing (and give me feedback later in the bar). I led round the first two marks but made a complete mess of the downwind leg allowing them both to pass but kept close behind going back upwind. As we set off down the final downwind leg, I caught a fantastic long gust at just the right angle and with the kite up and fully hiking out over the very rear quarter of the RS Vareo really lit her up and skimmed down the outside to pass them both and take the win. I DO love sailing this brilliant boat! Chris took second with Luke third, his only non-bullet of the day.
With another bit of help from Luke on sail settings (lots more outhaul and cunningham) I was able to manage the re-strengthening winds much better in race five. I was close enough on the final downwind leg to hope for another helpful gust but this time it wasn’t to be and in a rash attempt to try to sail above Chris in the reach to the line and gybe round the top ended up taking a swim.
Race six was pretty much a repeat of five but without the swim then it was up with kite and a good blast back to the beach.
After changing and packing the boat it was up to the bar for a beer and a debrief of the fun of the day followed by the evening meal laid on by the catering staff.
I really enjoyed the format; it was the first time I had sailed a “point to point” course rather than one with laps and the quick nature of the back to back racing kept us warm, even during the couple of light snow flurries!
I’m now looking forward to the rest of this year’s tour events. If you own an RS Vareo pop it on a trailer and come and join us. The fleet are remarkable friendly and welcoming. It’s a great chance to sail this brilliant boat with others and learn to go even faster in it. Hope to see you soon.
Report by Paul North
The Sunday brought more constant medium winds and flatter water with the wind direction change. After the surprise of finding ice in the boat when I took the cover off, by the time we got on the water the day had warmed up and I changed to a set of full fingered gloves to protect the missing skin from the previous day’s occasional gusts - I don’t use a spinnaker on the river and so I only normally have half fingered gloves with the mainsheet cleat.
For Sunday, there were six similar races where I spent most of the time following Luke and trying to identify the points where I dropped back, (often those times when you say “I think I should tack now but I’ll just hang on a little longer”), whilst he was just ahead keeping up with the RS500s who were on the same start line. On one race, Luke dropped in behind at the start to sail behind me and give me some pointers and on the last downwind leg. I found some good angles and some gusts to stay ahead to the finish line - well he did promise me one win because it was my birthday!
Although six races back to back may seem daunting, Rutland managed to get us quickly into a start sequence within a couple of minutes of getting back to the start line. With each race around 23 minutes, we were finished within three hours of racing – less than a normal event where it’s three or four back to back races.
This sprint type event is certainly a good wake-up call for the season ahead and much needed spinnaker practise for me. It’s a great way to practise starts and try different angles upwind and down, then re-start and try again, rather than spending the next few laps trying to get back into a race where you’ve had a bad first leg. Yes, I managed to use the spinnaker in all races on the Sunday. I only left it in the chute for the first two races on the Saturday, where the wind was much more than advertised with strong gusts from the snow/hail/light rain fronts coming through, where I figured planing without the spinnaker was better than swimming in that cold water. Having said that, there was a point in the fifth race when I realised I was tiring because I automatically threw in a few role gybes downwind – not a good idea with a spinnaker where you’re trying to keep in the gusts.
Thank you to Rutland SC and to our National Tour sponsor Rooster and RS Class Association sponsor Noble Marine. Thanks to Luke and Paul for some great fun – hope we’ll have more RS Vareos joining next year’s RS Sprint event 22-23 April 2023 and see you all at Chichester YC at the end of the month on 30 April.
Report by Chris Abbott
Up on Y&Y here
RS Vareo Prizewinners:
3rd: Paul North
2nd: Chris Abbott
1st: Luke Fisher