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RS300 Spring Open and Rooster National Tour event at South Cerney Sailing Club

by Paul Watson 19 Mar 06:18 PDT 16-17 March 2019
Upwind - RS300 Spring Open © Dave Whittle

Weather forecasts are rarely accurate and should be taken as more of a guide... These were the thoughts I was having whilst loading my windsurfing kit into the car on Saturday morning, before heading to South Cerney Sailing Club for the Rooster RS300 Spring Open.

Fortunately, I wasn't the only person who had chosen to risk the forecast as a group of 11 RS300 sailors gathered to look longingly out over the lake's Mediterranean blue waters, which were covered in white horses suggesting the MET office had got it right and the day would mostly be spent onshore.

Undeterred by the day's racing being postponed, a couple of brave sailors decided to take to the water anyway and get in some practice. There's a video on the 300 Facebook page, so you can judge for yourselves on how it went. The more sensible amongst us went for a windsurf, while the rest took to the club house to start an early attempt to dry the bar out and watch the rugby.

By Sunday the wind had eased enough to run some racing and the Race Officer and his team sent us out for four quick fire, back to back races around the cans. In the process of easing the wind had also swung round a little meaning that we now had the additional challenge of some shifts and mega gusts depending on which of the million-pound holiday homes had their windows open.

In race one it was Steve Sallis who led around the windward mark, sailing normally at Hykeham it is fair to say Steve knows his way around a wind shift. It is also a fair assumption that sailing on a shifty gusty lake means that there will be holes in the wind and leading was likely to be the quickest way of finding them. Unlucky for Steve he found his on the first short run and Paul Watson slipped through and the rest of the fleet bunched up around him.

By the middle of the second lap it was Paul and Steve Bolland, who had caught up from a disappointing first beat (not banging the corner), racing for the win. That was until the final mark where Paul binned it, and in the process of trying to avoid him, so did Steve. Richard Le Mare could hardly believe his luck as he sailed past to take the first race from a recovered Paul 2nd and Steve Sallis in third.

Ben Green showed the fleet the way up the first beat in the second race and made the most of it for the first couple of reaches before finding a similar hole to Steve in the first race on the short run allowing Paul to slip through and take the lead which he would hold on to until the finish. Steve Bolland battled through to take 2nd and Matt Pedlow showed good speed coming in third after some close racing with Ben and Richard.

A shift shortly before the start of race three saw a change in tactic and it was Steve Bolland who made the most of it and managed (just) to Port tack the entire fleet. However, this was soon undone by a mixture of Paul Watson's bang the corner tactic working again and the fact the windward mark had been moved between races but not noticed by all of the fleet. Paul led at the first mark, followed shortly after by Steve B. After couple of laps of close racing it was Paul's turn to sail into the hole on the run allowing Steve to sail past which he comfortably held until the finish. Just behind a battle for third was taking place between Steve Sallis and Richard Le Mare who was fighting hard to keep his overall chances alive. On the final sprint for the line Richard managed to squeeze out a little more speed meaning the event would go down to the final race.

Race four Who would have the energy left to take the title? Had Steve and Richard worn themselves out the day before? I was certainly hoping so. Steve led round mark one, Paul second, Richard should have been third had he not buried the nose and capsized at the mark. Steve should have had it in the bag, after gaining a good 10 boat length lead, but a rogue gust and uncommitted gybed led to his third swim of the day (the second being between races and on top of Richard Hargreaves boat...).

Paul snuck through, Steve recovered to keep the race alive and Richard, who had regained composure, lost it again as his bow disappeared for a second time. Paul and Steve then had two laps of close racing swapping places a couple of times until going in to the second to last run Paul got around safely, turned around to check where Steve was to see him checking his centreboard was still there. Paul then survived to the finish taking the final win from Steve second, Matt third and Ben fourth and final finisher in the last race.

Back on shore for some tea, lunch and cake by the excellent South Cerney Galley team, who had also provided an excellent meal the night before, prize giving with the best handmade wooden RS300 trophies going (I now have one to match the one my wife won in 2017!) and some Rooster national tour spot prizes for Richard Le Mare (Endeavour, following his final race) and Cheryl Wood (Heroics Having sailed to the point of destroying her boom).

Many thanks as always to South Cerney Sailing Club and Gary Morris for organising the event and to Rooster Sailing for the continued support. Next event is the Rooster RS Sprint Championships at Rutland SC on 27th-28th April: enter online here.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1stPaul Watson528Bowmoor SC 1214
2ndSteve Bolland411Bristol Corinthian YC 2125
3rdRichard Le Mare555Castle Cove SC163 10
4thMatthew Pedlow451S.W.S.C53 311
5thSteve Sallis476Hykeham SC354 12
6thBen Green313Lymington Town SC 46414
7thRichard Hargreaves373Stewartby WSC47516
8thRob Ford351A.W.S.C.78722
9thCheryl Wood339Pennine SCDNF9DNF33
10thBen Heppenstall395Whitefriers SCDNFDNF41
11thGary Morris318South Cerney SC842

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