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RS700s at Brightlingsea Skiff Fest 2019 at Brightlingsea Sailing Club

by Matt Carter 16 Oct 08:42 PDT 12-13 October 2019
RS700 Brightlingsea Skiff Fest prize winners © Simon Redfearn

Nine RS700 sailors ventured to Essex for the Brightlingsea Skiff Fest and represented the largest fleet there. Other skiff classes present were Musto Skiffs, B14s and RS800s for the two day event.

The fleet launched on Saturday in gloomy overcast conditions with light drizzle sticking tell tales to the sail and making it difficult to see when the 5kt breeze was shifting around. Thankfully from this rather gloomy start the conditions improved throughout the weekend to make the event truly memorable with some amazing, close, high wind racing.

Race one was started in light winds with tide racing out beneath the fleet. Pete Purkiss, Matt Carter and Ian Swann managed to avoid the carnage at the port end of the line to give the two Mustos a race upwind. The fleet split with those going left coming out on top. Pete rounded first and maintained the lead to take the win for the two laps just ahead of the leading Musto Skiff which started with the RS700s. By lap two Matt Conner rounded as second RS700 onto the second beat but Matt Carter found a shift and more pressure downwind almost crossing the leader to take second RS700 with Matt Conner in third.

With all the excitement two RS700 sailors left the fray leaving seven boats to battle it out in the increasing pressure. The wind shifted on the start leaving most the fleet at the starboard end of the line when port was definitely the place to be. Two RS700s, Philip Highfield and Richard Goldklang, crossed the fleet having port flyers only to be drawn back into the fleet by the turn downwind. With the boats starting to plane downwind with the increasing shifty breeze placed began to be exchanged more frequently. Pete Purkiss was first around and again maintained the lead to take the win. Ian Swann was lightening upwind and held off Matt Carter in a tight finish to take second.

The 3rd race began with the wind now blowing 12kts. From the start Theo Gayler broke away from the fleet and was uncatchable. Behind Pete Purkiss, Matt Carter and Philip Highfield fought for second and third changing placed up and down wind. Pete rounded just behind Matt to start the last downwind leg and gybed off onto port. Matt gybed to cover and were neck and neck going into the gybe on to starboard. Matt gybed a fraction too late letting Pete through to the downwind gate first and on to gybe for the finish line to take second. Matt came in just behind to take third. The fleet retired to the bar for beer and enjoyed the most amazing curry cooked by the fleet's own Simon Redfearn '970'. The talk all about the forecast for the following day which promised 30kt gusts and a chance to test our high wind gybe theories.

We woke to find it very sailable with 15kts. By the time the fleet reached the start line the wind had increased and continued to do so throughout the day. Race one began with the majority of the fleet flowing the locals left to the shoreline. Theo Galyer continued where he left off in the 3rd race and took the lead around the first mark followed closely by Rich Wadsworth and Pete Purkiss.

On the charge downwind Rich over-stood the mark letting Pete through. By now the wind was gusting well into the mid 20kts and the waves had increased enough to knock any unwary RS700 sailor from the rack upwind. Theo was still leading by the 3rd lap and when sailing upwind hit a wave which stopped the boat dead sending him around the forestay and capsizing. This let Pete and Rich through to round onto the final leg ahead.

Rich stormed through with amazing upwind speed and remained ahead of Pete to take the win. Pete came in second. Theo turned downwind and tipped it in on the gybe. Looking behind he could see Matt Carter flying downwind eager to take the opportunity to steal 3rd but Theo managed to recover and chicken gybe before hoisting to stay just ahead to take the podium.

By the start of the final race the conditions were frankly pretty extreme. From the start Theo and Rich split the fleet with Rich heading right and Theo left. Pete Purkiss and Ian Swann followed closely. Rich rounded first very closely followed by Theo, Ian and then Pete. Ian and Pete took a swim during the gybe allowing Matt Carter through.

Thankfully the race was only two laps because the gusts by now had reached the promise of the forecast. The trip upwind became an endurance test and it became a trial to stay attached to the boat in the by now massive waves. Rich pulled out a lead from Theo and survived the thrill ride downwind to take his second win of the day. Theo came in second and Matt stayed ahead of Pete and Ian for third. It is credit to the fleet that everyone who started the last race managed to endure to the finish but by that time the race officer had seen enough and sent the fleet home.

With a general theme of increasing wind the event was a huge success for the RS700s with great racing in varied conditions, good company and excellent locally cooked food. To top it all off a lightweight sailor proved the heavier sailors don't have it all their own way by winning the event. Congratulations Pete!

Our next event is the final one on the RS700 Rooster National Tour. It is the Inland Championship at Queen Mary SC 2-3 Nov.

More information on the RS700 Class Association website here.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st1042Pete PurkissBSC1122‑46
2nd1063Theo GalyerHISC‑5413210
3rd966Matt CarterLancing SC233‑4311
4th1022Ian SwannHISC‑6245516
5th836Phillip HighfieldGt Yarmouth and Gorleston SC4557(DNF)21
6th720Richard WadsworthRNSC/ Stokes Bay SC8(DNC)DNC1122
7th1041Matt ConnerQMSC376(DNC)622
8th982Roland SmithHISC‑9886729
9th861Richard GoldklangBSC767(DNF)DNC32
10th801Stephen CarrBSC‑11998834
11th970Simon RedfernBSC10(DNC)DNCDNCDNC46

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