June 11, 2019
Sat 25-30+ knots racing abandoned
Sun 5-8 knots – 4 races
Tide – lots
When twenty five RS400 teams arrived in Lymington for the Southern Championships, most if not all were nervous about two things. The first was the weather.
With a steady 24 knots at the river entrance with gusts hitting 30 and a forecast for conditions to strengthen, the opening day looked set to be a boisterous, boat breaking affair. There was also the issue of the tide. In the morning it was running East with the breeze, but when it turned in the afternoon to press against a building gale, things would ramp up even further.
The second issue of concern was connected to the first. If racing was cancelled for the day, how was the fleet going to stay out of the bar?
As various other events on the calendar have proved, self control isn’t widespread in this fleet. To make matters worse, Lymington is littered with temptation from the excellent and hospitable bar at the host sailing club, to the pub opposite and the wide array of hostelries in town.
Meanwhile, in the dinghy park those that had jumped to the conclusion that the race officer was going to abandon had also accurately predicted that the state of the tide meant that he was likely to do this sooner rather than after a string of postponements. This early call to the day clearly put the fleet at serious risk of it’s own lack of self-control.
Yet, when the inevitable did happen and the chequered flag was hoisted, a remarkable thing happened –the fleet found other things to do.
Some went for a long walk around the salt marshes, others did some boat bimbling. But the most imaginative activity was Andy Chapman’s free for all weigh in with his kind offer to measure anyone’s boat to within a gram of its life using his professionally calibrated scales.
The results were remarkable.
First, no one had a pint in their hands.
The second was that there was barely any difference in weight between old and new.
Apart from Andy’s pride and joy #527. Convinced that he knew his boat’s weight down to a decimal place or two there was a look of crest fallen disbelief when his boat tipped the scales at 10kg over the odds. Re- setting the scales did nothing to ease the pain.
Fortunately for a man on the brink of a breakdown, opening a hatch and bailing out the water brought his dream machine back in line with the rest of the fleet.
Sober and sanctimonious, once the clock struck 1800hrs it was time to party as we all wished Heather Chipperfield the best for the future after an 18 year stint at the RS Association – a task that took most of the night.
The following day delivered a light but steady breeze from the South West and stacks more tide flowing to the East. The result was a one-sided race track for the four races – Upwind inshore, downwind offshore.
“It was pretty quiet at the front,” said Paul Oakey. “There weren’t really that many place changes during the races.” Mike Simms agreed.
“It was all about the start really, you just had to be at the committee boat end and get out of the tide for the first beat.”
And that’s the problem with asking front runners how the racing went. With little incentive to look behind, they usually miss the carnage astern as the rest of the fleet struggle to find the useable bits of some second-hand air.
But it wasn’t all stress-free sailing for the front runners. John Heissig and Nicki Griffin won the first two races after two imaginative and punchy port tack starts only to slip down the rankings with an 8th and a 6th in the next two.
After three races it was a battle between Simms/Holden #1488 and the Cockerills #1489 who had been slogging it out to go into the final race just one point apart.
“We needed to win the final race and Jon and Nicky to come no better than fourth to win the event,” said Mike Simms.
Which was precisely what happened as Simms and Holden delivered executed their plan to turn the tables on the Cockerills and deliver a one point victory. Sometimes it all sounds too easy, yet the reality was it was anything but.
Report by Matt Sheahan – 1435