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RS700s during the Rooster RS Summer Championship at Parkstone Yacht Club

by Richard Wadsworth 27 Jun 2018 23:45 PDT 23-24 June 2018
RS700 Rooster RS Summer Championship © David Harding /

Due to the entry cap at this year's Summer Championship, to ensure that the team at Parkstone Yacht Club were not overwhelmed, the decision was taken that only the five great South coasts clubs would send their finest RS700 sailors to compete.

Saturday got underway with the competitors heading out across sunny Poole Harbour in a light SE breeze. However, as they passed chain ferry at the harbour entrance the wind swung SW and increased in strength, and to the surprise and delight of the sailors, they completed the (lengthy) journey to the racecourse flat wiring downwind at speed.

Race 1 - The wind stabilised at 10-12kts and with the highly efficient race team ready, the first race got underway as scheduled. There was a moderate pin end start line bias, and breaking with tradition Richard Wadsworth timed his start to perfectionto lead from the off and hold it up to the windward mark. By the last downwind leg Richard had managed to stretch a 50yd lead over the chasing Spike Daniels; however, he was easily distracted at the sight of the photo boat, and whilst trying to pose for a "Navy News" cover-shot, he massively over-stood the gybe. Spike was in a prime position to overhaul Richard who was struggling to hold the kite to the leeward gate, but using "pie power" Richard made the gate marginally ahead of Spike. There remained a tighter reach across the bow of the committee boat to finish; Richard went for it with the kite up, whilst Spike dropped... on this occasion it worked out for Richard, albeit with mainsail flogging and a facial expression of which a champion gurner would be proud. Spike came across the line to take second with Matt Carter taking third.

Race 2 - The wind had eased slightly in the second race, but Richard Wgot away clean off the line again and managed to maintained a narrow lead ahead of the chasing Rich Lilley and Matt Carter. During the last gybe, Richard's tiller extension somehow came off in his hand, which he then fumbled and lost over the back off the boat. After a lucky and desperate lunge over the back of the boat he recovered it and managed to hold on for the win. Rich L took a very close second with Matt Carter taking another 3rd. The team later speculated that if Rich L had been wearing a slightly smaller hat with less drag, he could have probably taken the win.

Race 3 - The tide was beginning to build, but being so far from land the competitors hadn't noticed any advantageous effect up to this point. The pin end start line bias was more evident and Matt Connor and Richard Lilley did a port tack flier across the face of the rest of the fleet. Spike made it to the windward mark first; closely followed by Richard W and Matt Carter. Spike retained the lead until half way up the last beat, when it became clear that going hard right was the best option... On the horizon came the distant silhouette of Matt Carter emerging significantly ahead of Spike and the everyone else. Matt Carter had pulled a blinder and just had to sail it home....[Matt - stop reading and move to the next paragraph!]. Spike had been flying downwind all day, but was very unlikely to catch Matt.... that was until Matt lost sight of the leeward gate and massively over-stood it. Having not taken the opportunity in the first race, Spike gybed on the lay line to take the lead and the win. Matt finished a very close second with Richard in third.

Race 4 - Due to the light forecast for Sunday, the race committee decided to do a fourth raceand make the most of the "champagne conditions". With the tide now ripping and everyone heading right, the race was dominated by Matt Connor who spectacularly led from the outset thanks to some impossibly high and fast pointing upwind. Post- match analysis revealed that he'd wound on some lowers before the race – which clearly worked! Matt maintained his lead and easily took an impressive win, with Richard W in 2nd and Matt Carter in third.

A great philosopher once described life as a box of chocolates... because you never know what you're going to get...

On day two, the plucky RS700 sailors were completely undeterred by the light forecast and headed out into the bay as 'there was racing to be had'. In a repeat of the previous days events, the wind began to build when they passed the chain ferry as the intense sun did its thermal magic on the local wind. It was quickly becoming evident that not only was this wind was significantly stronger than predicted, but it could become quite challenging.

With the wind now blowing over 20kts and the race committee keen to get underway.The RS700 fleet made a clean start with Rich Lilley executing another great port end flier to lead the pack up the beat. Matt Connor and Matt Carter were footing heavily and using this speed to great effect to punch through the building chop, whilst Spike, Rich L and Richard W were going for height, but struggling against the growing wind and sea state. Approaching the windward mark on opposite tacks Rich L was forced to dip the two Matts, and in a ball of spray looked to have lost it to windward; however seconds later he made a spectacular water-start recovery to land back on his rack maintained his third place around the windward mark.

Following round the windward mark in close succession the fleet careered down the race-course at 'max chat' with many hoping that the wind would abate by the gybe mark. The wind was having none of it though and a relentless gust greeted the competitors at the gybe. Like a well-oiled synchronised machine, the boats flipped through the gybes; rising to the challenge Spike smashed in a perfect wire to wire gybe to put himself back in contention by the leeward gate.

As the five intrepid sailors fought up the final beat the wind began to gust over 30kts, and not only was the racecourse turning white and being littered with capsized RS400s and RS800s, the thought of the bear away around the windward mark was becoming less appealing.

Matt Carter was the first to round the final windward mark and having spectacularly saved has completely submerged his boat from a nose dive paused on the spinnaker hoist. Looking behind however, he saw the kites of Rich L and Spike crack into life. This was "win or swim", Matt Carter hoisted, as did Richard W and Matt Conner after a cheeky windward mark gybe-hoist. At this point an enormous gust hit the five intrepid sailors, but none of them yielded; with the boats singing Richard W recorded a GPS speed of 23kts before being forced to gybe for debris on the racecourse. The lesser RS classes watched in amazement from their daggerboards, as these incredible sailors and their astonishing machines tore down the racecourse.

It all came down to the gate and final gybe. With Matt Carter was howling in on port whilst Matt Conner was flying in on starboard on a collision course at the gate;neither was able to yield in these ferocious conditions and there was an enormous crash through the haze of spray. Rich Lilley somehow managed to bisect the two upturned hulls to get through the gate and cross the line first, followed by Spike and Richard W. When the spray had settled, Matt Carter had a broken rack and Matt Connor had a severe head wound, but they were only 20yds from the finish line. The two sailors righted their boats and charged for the line for a photo finish, but the photographer had got scared and gone home.

The five gladiatorial heroes returned to the yacht club where a bus load of Swedish nurses (who were on a sailing course) helped them with their trolleys and bought them copious amounts of beer.

In a cruel twist of fate, it turned out that the committee had abandoned the race due to the decimation on the racecourse – so none of the second day's scores were registered. So based on the previous days racing Richard Wadsworth took the overall win, with Spike Daniels in second place and Matt Carter in third.

As the events of Parkstone are passed down through the ages and into RS700 legend, some may question whether Richard W really did hit 23kts, did Matt Carter break his rack,or did they even go sailing at all... and was this made up in the pub whilst they watched the England vs Panama game? Well, maybe you should have turned up and found out for yourselves!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st720Richard WadsworthRNSA/Stokes Bay SC11-324
2nd808Spike DanielsHayling Island SC2-5158
3rd966Matt CarterLancing SC-33238
4th1041Matthew ConnerQMSC-54419
5th945Richard LilleyLymington Town SC42-5410
6th991Theo GalyerHISC(DNC)DNCDNCDNC21

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