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Stewart Brewing RS400 Scottish Tour at Aberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht Club

by Neil McLaren & Jamie Rogers 26 Aug 23:20 PDT 19-20 August 2023

The weekend of the 19th & 20th August was to see the highest turnout of this year's RS400 Scottish tour making their way to Stonehaven. A forecast of strong winds and large swell was on the cards!

Friday was full of messages asking if the event was going ahead. In the early evening the club decided that they needed to bring the rescue/committee boats into the inner harbour due to the swell, so racing was postponed until at least 3pm on Saturday.

Saturday lunchtime saw some of the fleet starting to appear in the club's galley, drawn in by the smell of bacon rolls. Whilst rolls were being devoured, many eyes gazed out of the window towards the harbour. In the distance, waves were breaking against the harbour walls and a large swell could be seen out in the bay. Just after 1.30pm the briefing was held and the race officer confirmed that the plan was to try and run at least 1 race. It was time for sailors to put their big person pants on and do battle with king Neptune!

Six boats from the fleet walked their boats around to safely launch in the harbour. This avoiding the breaking swell coming into the bay. As we gingerly sailed out of the shelter of the harbour the swell seemingly got bigger and bigger. The film a Perfect Storm springs to mind! 2 boats rapidly decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed back to shore. The discussion on The Great Gonzo was "this is getting a bit silly!" and "should we head in?". However, Team Gonzo somehow ended up at the start line with building confidence in the conditions. Team Gonzo decided that getting around the course was going to be an accomplishment at the very least, leaving the others to fight it out.

The first race got under way with Stewart & Sarah approaching the windward mark in the lead, they decided to leave the spinnaker in the shoot on the first run, which Team Gonzo thought was very wise. However, both Angus/ Imogen and Mark/Pam thought that the race needed some extra colour in the grey overcast sky, and in quick succession both popped their kites to try and chase down the leaders. After a few swims by multiple boats, the fleet settled into some sort of order. Stewart & Sarah showing us youngsters how sailing in swell should be done by leaving a good bit of space between them and the chasing pack. All boats were very grateful when the race officer finished the fleet for the day and told us to return to shore. All bar Angus and Imogen who later said they were determined to throw in at least one decent gybe in the conditions before they were to head ashore, fair play team Gnasher!

Saturday evening saw a BBQ at the club and many stories about the swell regaled at the bar. Post-sail comments from the fleet included: "they were the size of a 3-story building", "Dave got thrown 30 metres out of the boat, we about turned for an early bath", and even the fleets resident salty seadog, Stewart, stated they were "the biggest waves he had ever seen".

Sunday morning broke bright with considerably less swell. An increased fleet of 9 boats took to the water. Some boats arriving after deciding going for a bike ride on Saturday was a much better idea, as well as other crews now becoming available. This saw Bob happy to be getting out in the 400 after having some mast track troubles in his Musto the day previous.

Neil & Dillion aiming to make up for missing the racing on Saturday were to give Stewart & Sarah and run for their money. That was until the first leeward mark of the weekends 2nd race. Their spinnaker drop didn't go to plan, apparently tying on the downhaul line properly helps when dropping, who would have thought? A worthy contender for a Duckham's nomination here it would seem! This left Stewart & Sarah to take their second 1st of the weekend with Angus & Imogen claiming 2nd followed by the locals Bob & Matthew.

Races 3 & 4 saw Neil ensuring Dillion, in his second ever RS400 event, "hike more in one day than in the last 3 years combined" and it paid off with them taking the wins followed by Stewart & Sarah. The next few places in both races were hotly contested with good mid-fleet battles being fought and places changing on every leg.

The 4th and last race of the day saw Stewart & Sarah surprise the fleet by breaking their unofficial 3 races a day rule and staying out to play. They appeared at the windward mark on port and got around ahead of the fleet. The Great Gonzo followed them to round in second! Unfortunately, Team Gonzo's luck was to run out as a hole the size of a football was slowly being created in our spinnaker. Stewart/Sarah and Neil/Dillion showed that they were in a class of their own leaving the usual battles behind them. Mid-fleet places once again being traded all the way until the last marks, with the windward mark being a common place for some fun. Bob & Matthew came out on top of the mid-fleet mayhem followed by Jamie & Neil then Mark & Pam.

The overall final results highlighted how close the racing was in the fleet with 2 points separating 2nd to 5th places. Well done to Stewart and Sarah Robertson on the win and thanks to Aberdeen and Stonehaven Yacht Club for putting on a great event in what can only be described as "challenging conditions".

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
11463Stewart RobertsonSarah RobertsonRoyal Forth Yacht Club112215
21523Neil McLellanDillion McLellanDalgety Bay Sailing ClubDNCDNF11214
31073Jamie RogersNeil McLarenHoly Loch Sailing Club3435414
41124Bob YeamansMatthew ParkAberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht ClubDNC363315
51370Mark PowellPamHelensburgh Sailing Club2547516
6766Angus MarshallImogen MarshallDalgety Bay Sailing Club4284DNF18
71265Colin DaviesRobyn PhillipsAberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht ClubDNS756725
81129David WebleyFraser MulfordWormit Sailing ClubDNS756727
9786D MacFarlaneGarth SmithAberdeen & Stonehaven Yacht ClubDNSDNFOCSDNFDNC40

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