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Southern Spars - North Technology

RS700 UK National Championships at Hayling Island SC overall

by Hamish Griffiths on 12 Sep 2012
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Noble Marine RS700 UK National Championships were held at Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) over the weekend. It could be the Med (but prettier) here at HISC although there's a lot of whistling going on with the absence of the drafty stuff. We have a good turnout of RS700s and a great bunch of chaps as usual. Thursday's wind was better than forecast and, as predicted, local hero Steve Powell showed us the way round Bracklesham bay with a second and a first. Jerry Wales, the reigning champ, wasn't far behind of course, first and sixth.

Friday, another beautiful day, saw racing in a dying breeze in Hayling Bay West and as usual this sorted the men from the boys. Powell and Wales remain neck and neck and Jon Heissig (a bit rusty but always strong in light conditions) is beginning to show. Dave Smithwhite from HISC had a storming race in the last of the day for first place in the very tricky conditions and Simon Letten, Tony Dencher and Andy Brown are all up there in the mix. The next half a dozen places will be closely contested. If, as looks likely, we don't get racing today it will be anyone's Championship tomorrow in (we hope) breezier conditions.

Day 3: Well the weather this weekend certainly would have done justice to the Côte D’Azur but as predicted, there was no racing yesterday. The race team really did their very best to get us out but after first a two and then a three hour postponement, they bowed to the inevitable and abandoned for the day; just as well as the tempting hint of a breeze immediately disappeared and we would have all had an interesting time struggling back against the ebb had we been sent out.

There was compensation to come in the party last night though. Mark Pollington’s band, the ironically named 'Heavy Weather' put on a great show. After the dancing (and light drinking) there were a few sorry faces for the early Sunday start and a long session planned.

Today was more like it! F3 building to 5 and the excellent race team had us all on the line for the sixth of the regatta at 1100hr. An uncharacteristic general recall and subsequent timing mishap meant we got away just a little late for the first of four two lappers and Steve Powell quickly put his stamp on the day, first to the WM and leading all the way home. Jerry Wales led a small group round the starboard gate mark and up the left side of the course but ultimately this didn’t pay – not least because the veering wind had persuaded the team to move the windward and spreader marks 10deg right and nearly 400m further upwind. There were to be more changes all day and the PRO amazingly managed these without causing any significant delays.

The next race was nearly a repeat, Steve now with the bit between his teeth and Jerry right on his tail but just not able to make an impression. This time they shifted the windward mark round 30deg between laps and, of course, the leaders spotted this shift and made huge gains over us rookies. Colin Dacey is always up there and this time had a good third behind Jerry, Simon in fourth.

Steve got caught up in slower traffic (that’s the nicest way I can put it) in the next and posted a (discard-able) 20th. Andy Brown will have been pleased with his first. It’s a pity Nick Miller, third, wasn’t able to make the first day because he would have scored well overall with his consistent run.

It was all over by the last race. By now the wind had really picked up and had swung by more than 100deg since the opening of play. A few found the sea conditions more challenging by now and there were quite a few hull bottoms showing on the way round but it didn’t prevent Steve Powell enjoying a couple of laps of honour at his real home club with his Dad in the pin end rib to cheer him home. Heavy weather specialist and European Champion Alex Newton-Southon got a nice first; consolation for the earlier races which were challenging for the stouter yachter!

See interactive GPS tracks of all the races online. If you haven’t seen these before, there are some simple instructions below each replay map; it’s worth persevering with some of the other features which are (nearly) self-explanatory. There is also a link to a speed analysis spreadsheet of the last day (I didn’t think anyone went fast enough on the first two days to make interesting reading)! Those who would like to see the full potential of the GPS technology can download a copy of the application here – the full program is very powerful and you can download the original track files to play with from the Java replay maps on my site.

These Championships were considered a great success by all of us. Many thanks to Hayling Island Sailing Club for wonderful hospitality and in particular to Mark Wood and his team of very senior race officials – they did us proud. Noble Marine were our generous sponsors and we thank them also.

Stokes Bay beckons in two weeks for the closing match of the Gul Grand Prix. Be RS Class Association website

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