Day 1: Thu 28th Sep – Report by Jeremy Troughton
Luckily storm Agnes had passed through by the time the RS100 fleet set sail on Day 1 at the Noble Marine Allen RS100 National Championships 2023, at Royal Torbay Yacht Club, but the wind was still blowing hard enough to make it exciting on the water. This was the penultimate event of the Rooster National Tour.
The first race saw the fleet get away cleanly and Huw Powell led at the windward mark, followed by David Smart, Andy Jones and Jeremy Troughton. Jeremy gybed early to clear his air, was headed in good pressure, lifted and gybed back. As the heaviest sailor in the fleet – and not used to overtaking anyone downwind – he was surprised to be in the lead at the bottom mark.
Huw showed his dominance again upwind on the second beat overtaking Jeremy to lead into the second downwind leg. Once again, Jeremy played his lucky card downwind. He was leading at the bottom gate, with a nice tight rounding into the third beat, only to notice a shortened course flag flying on the committee boat. He bared away and sailed down to the finish line to give Huw the win. The second group were also confused as to the course change with Andy Jones passing Nigel Wakefield and James Ross in the closing stages to snatch third place.
For the second race, the length of the upwind leg was reduced, and Nigel showed the fleet a clean set of heels hitting every shift upwind and down, leading from start to finish. Huw and Jeremy had a close tussle throughout with Huw again coming out on top. Netley’s Bart Brigden showed good pace claiming fourth ahead of Stephen Jones.
The third and final race of the day was seeing some tired legs. Huw showed his class once again winning. If it wasn’t for spinnaker pole issues counting him out of the first two races, Matt Johnson was one to. Outside of that it was the team from Netley completing the top 5 with James Ross in third, Nigel in fourth and Bart in fifth.
Day 2: Fri 29th Sep – Report by James Ross
With the wind blowing more Westerly off the land at Torquay, we had flat water and big variances in wind strength – a very different day for Day 2!
Race 4 was the breeziest of the three races and Huw put in yet another win, followed by James Ross and the ever-consistent Nigel Wakefield in third. By Race 5 the breeze was shifting over 30 degrees and it took umpteen attempts to get the race away. Once finally racing it was all about shift damage limitation on the edges of the course and sailing to the pockets of wind. James Ross found the best breeze down wind and took the win followed by Nigel. Nils Jolliffe, finding his form again, took third.
By Race 6 the breeze was easing and there were multiple place changes in each beat. James led but was overtaken by Matt Johnson, who took a left flier. Then Nigel dug his way from near mid-fleet with a huge left-hand gain on the last beat. A tight pack of Nigel, Matt and Nils fought out the run to finish in that order.
A very long day on the water but good racing was had!
Day 3: Sat 30th Sep – Report by David Smart
Back in the bay, the wind returned to the South, averaging 15 knots. That meant that exiting the harbour provided the first challenge, but the wind settled down out on the course. Eplett launched, peeped out of the harbour and decided “not today, thank you!”
The comment from the Irish contingent was that the water’s nice and warm!
Race 7 saw the fleet a bit too eager to get going with everyone vying for the committee boat end. The second start under U flag saw better behaviour with most of the fleet going left. There were lots of places to be gained downwind by spotting a good gust, and there were many out there. By the end, the normal suspects were at the front. Wakefield came through for the win, with Powell second, and Jolliffe third – showing that his earlier season form hadn’t completely deserted him.
Race 8 saw the biggest gusts at 25 knots – AKA Force Huw! Steve Jones was so excited by his fourth he was OCS and had to do the turn of shame to restart. Powell was in his element, taking the bullet from Ross and Wakefield, with Smart finishing in fourth. Race 9 saw the fleet generally tacking when their bodies said they needed a short rest! Ross came through for the bullet, with Wakefield second, Powell third with Jolliffe completing a Netley sweep.
Day 4: Sun 1st Oct – Report by David Smart Could
Huw Powell retain his title, or would a new champ be crowned? That was the question on everybody’s lips and after three days of solid hiking breezes and a few wet gybes. However, Nigel Wakefield was hot on his heels and only two points back, but with better discards.
Powell had been praying to the wind Gods, but they hadn’t heard. The wind was a more sedate 6-8 knots blowing over the land from the holiday hotspot of Paignton. The fleet started cleanly with a number tacking off towards the Paignton shore, where they thought they spotted more pressure, but it proved an illusion, with those playing the shifts gaining the most.
There were some new faces at the front of the field. Leading up the beat by some margin, was the light-wind wizard Ian Gregory, revelling in the conditions. He was followed by Barr and then Smart, with Wakefield then Powell a couple of places back. The downwind saw Eplett, and Bridgen slide through with Wakefield finding some pressure to join the leaders.
On the second lap, Wakefield played the sifts perfectly to take the gun followed by Barr, Eplett then Gregory followed by Bridgen before Powell squeezed over in sixth.
That meant that for the final race Powell would have to win, with Wakefield fourth or worse for him to retain his title. While the fleet got away safely under a P flag, Powell found himself uncharacteristically trying to extricate himself from the third row.
Eplett was now flying, sniffing out the pressure and shifts and leading from start to finish. He was closely followed by Wakefield, who had spotted Powell buried in the pack and sailed his own race to second and overall glory. Gregory was third with Smart fourth and Jolliffe fifth, with Powell almost pleased to come in ninth after that start!
Wakefield had sailed a superbly consistent series to be crowned the Noble Marine Allen 2023 RS100 National Champion. In second place and first Master was Huw Powell, with James Ross having done enough in the windy races to secure third place. Nils Jolliffe had recovered from an unusually poor Day 1 to finish fourth, with Bart Bridgen taking fifth.
Completing 11 races in 4 days is no mean feat and so the fleet thanked the Royal Torbay Yacht Club for hosting a memorable championship with great sailing led superbly by the PRO Bob Penfold and his on-water team. Not to mention excellent support from the shore team and those in the warmth of the club. A special thanks was given to the sponsors Noble Marine and Allen for their generous support of prizes.
The fleet move on to the Inlands at Chew Valley Lake SC on 11/12 November for the Rooster National Tour finale.
You can see the full results here.
Photos by Tania Hutchings of 50 North Photography