Well done to Tom Halhead and Steve Dunn for showing the fleet how it's done and giving Chris and Rachel more than a run for their money, despite a long absence from the class!
Rooster West Country Boat Repairs RS400 Southern Tour Burghfield
Glorious conditions greeted those who made the trip to Burghfield on Saturday morning: wall to wall sunshine, a balmy 15 degrees, and 10-15 knots. The wind, from the west, was the perfect direction to use the full length of the lake to set windward/leeward courses. All was set for a great day’s racing.
The first race got away perfectly on time at 10.55. The 400s were the third class to start in an effort to keep the classes together and avoid long gaps between races. Watching the 200s and 500s it became apparent that there were some slightly “unusual” features at play on the Burghfield racecourse. For example, the boat that won the pin opened up the option of being able to sail to the far side of the island just 20 or so boat lengths from the pin. The remainder of the fleet were forced to short tack between the islands.
At the first windward mark it was the neck and neck between Eames/Tilley and Halhead/Dunn, a pair returning to the class for the much-heralded return to Mounts Bay in July 2023. A close battle ensued with Eames/Tilley just snatching victory on the final run. Ross Ryan and Oliver Ryan-Moore, converts from the Northern Tour, completed the podium.
With no waiting around the race officer was quicky into the second race of the morning. This time there were no mistakes from Halhead/Dunn who romped away with the victory. Behind them a number of boats were learning the next “unusual” Burghfield feature: the 50 degree shifts. The Le Couilliard duo worked these perfectly to clinch third.
After race two there was a civilised break ashore for lunch. This allowed competitors not just a rest but also the chance to pick the brains of the other fleets. Apparently some of the 200s had made huge gains by avoiding the “narrow channel” and smacking the corner the far side of the island on the downwind. Would any of the 400s give this a go?
Back on the water Halhead/Dunn picked up where they left off before lunch with a victory. The battle for second was largely determined on the first downwind. In one sudden gust the wind shifted 45 degrees and picked up to least 20 knots. A number of boats who were looking pretty in the gust suddenly realised that the gybe was rather tricky. More than one swim ensued.
Eames/Tilley got a good start in the final race of the day and held off Halhead/Dunn for most of the race. However, some strong downwind pace and linking gusts from Halhead/Dunn sealed the final win and the event victory. Ross Ryan and Oliver Ryan-Moore were biting at the heels of Eames/Tilley needing a second to secure third overall. In the end it was the northern pair who picked the gusts better on the downwind.
A huge thank you to Burghfield for putting on a great event and our sponsors Rooster and West Country Boat Repairs. Plans are already afoot for next year’s Southern Tour. Overall results for this season’s tour and plans for next year to follow very shortly!
Christopher Eames, RS400 Southern Tour Rep