The RS500 Magic Marine Inland Championships this past weekend at Grafham Water brought old friends and a few new faces to the RS500 family for some close but friendly competition under a warm autumn sun. Of particular note were the two teams travelling from Gurnard SC representing the growing fleet of 500s on the Isle of Wight – great to see more and more people enjoying sailing RS500s!
The forecast told competitors to expect light breezes on Saturday, and possibly less on Sunday. In the event, that is exactly what happened. Race 1 got away eventually, after waiting for some of the RS400 fleet to get themselves black-flagged, which set a precedent for the weekend’s racing. Fast out of the blocks mid-line were national champions Mike Saul and Meg Fletcher, while newlyweds Phil and Tamsin Butcher from Great Yarmouth and Gorleston SC led the pack away from the port end. Things stayed this way until the dice were rolled a bit by some unpredictable windshifts on the second beat, which saw world champion Tim Wilkins with new crew Jamie Freeman (GYGSC) come up to round the windward mark first, just ahead of Mike/Meg and Allan and Linda Fraser from Datchet Water SC. It was close stuff for the rest of the race with numerous lead changes between the leading two but in the end Tim/Jamie held off Mike/Meg by a whisker at the last mark rounding to take the race win. Allan/Linda finished third, with Phil/Tamsin finishing fourth.
However Mike/Meg grew into the event and sailed with more and more confidence, working their way into the lead to win both races two and three, an impressive achievement given the fickle shifty winds – which took no prisoners in sending Phil/Tamsin from the front to the back in the second race and doing the same to Allan/Linda in race three. Race three also saw the appearance of fleet newcomers and this event’s only all-girl team and all-youth team Ella Symons and Ellie Ness from Gurnard SC at the front of the fleet, who pushed up to an impressive second place by the end of the second upwind leg, and despite losing out to a few of the more experienced sailors downwind came away with a very creditable fifth place.
At the end of day one Mike/Meg had a slender lead ahead of Tim/Jamie, with Allan/Linda third with all the rest very close to one another on points. The next day’s racing, and the introduction of a discard could make all the difference.
After a typically jovial affair at GWSC’s sailing club bar on Saturday evening, and a chilly night under canvas for some, Sunday arrived bring mist, cold and no wind! After a short postponement, the Sun burned through the mist, the land warmed, another fickle breeze spluttered in and it was game on. Briefly. Race four got away in some wind, which rapidly changed to not much wind, and eventually to still-life on the water. Mike/Meg had kept hold of their winning ways from Saturday, and were holding on to a slim lead ahead of Tim/Jamie when the fans turned off, which they held until the end of the (mercifully) shortened course, thus sealing the Inland Championship for the second year running. For the rest of the competitors the finish line came agonisingly slowly, but all were buoyed by the fact that as we crossed the finish line and began to pump, paddle and ooch our way back to shore, the 400s still had to complete another leg in no wind. Retribution at last for all those general recalls!!
Once again another great fun event amongst friends, and discussions turn now to the final event of the season at Datchet Water in November, and further to our plans for more RS500 fun next year!
|1st||RS 500||536||Mike Saul||Meg Fletcher||Yorkshire Dales||(2.0)||1.0||1.0||1.0||5.0||3.0|
|2nd||RS 500||625||Tim Wilkins||Jamie Freeman||GYGSC||1.0||(2.0)||2.0||2.0||7.0||5.0|
|3rd||RS 500||624||Allan Fraser||Linda Fraser||Datchet Water SC||3.0||3.0||(7.0)||5.0||18.0||11.0|
|4th||RS 500||665||Phillip Highfield||Tamsin Highfield||GYGSC||4.0||(8.0)||4.0||3.0||19.0||11.0|
|5th||RS 500||659||Peter Curtis||James Curtis||Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club||5.0||4.0||(6.0)||4.0||19.0||13.0|
|6th||RS 500||652||Derek Ness||Ben Symons||Gurnard SC/ Royal Victoria||6.0||(7.0)||3.0||7.0||23.0||16.0|
|7th||RS 500||922||Ella Symons||Eleanor Ness||Gurnard SC/ Royal Victoria||7.0||5.0||5.0||(8.0)||25.0||17.0|
|8th||RS 500||748||Anna Zmura||Keith Sykes||GYGSC||(8.0)||6.0||8.0||6.0||28.0||20.|