This weekend, 45 RS Aero women made their way to Hayling Island Sailing Club, excited for the third RS Aero UK Women’s Championships. Visitors travelled from as far away as Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands with the home women’s fleet at Hayling also well represented. The weekend started with some pre-event training ashore from Sammy I-J, giving excellent tips surrounding rigging, controls and depowering.
Day 1: Saturday
The first day was looking light, however by launch time the wind had built to a good 10-12 knots, and all were delighted by the beautiful conditions. 37 sailors chose to race in the RS Aero 5 fleet, making for a highly competitive fleet throughout. A small but perfectly formed fleet of RS Aero 6s was accompanied by Amanda in her RS Aero 7.
Race 1 provided some division in the RS Aero 5s, with the majority of the fleet heading right to avoid the tide and a few choosing the left hand side. The lead was taken by Kate Morrison (Emsworth) heading up the left side on the second beat.
Lots of place changes took place in the RS Aero 6 fleet due to the shifty conditions. Sarah Mitchell (Hayling) lead the first lap, until later realising the need for a compass as she over confidently sailed down a header and lost a number of places on Lap 2. Sarah Smith (Hayling) pulled through to 1st place on the second beat, as did Amanda (Hayling), who unfortunately had not studied the course and commenced a third lap, letting Sarah M back into 2nd place.
The wind increased for Race 2, and similarly to Race 1 the RS Aero 5 fleet split up the beat, with Kate, Iona Willows (Lymington) and Tracey Covell (Hayling) battling it out for 1st place. Kate took her second win of the weekend.
In the RS Aero 6s, Sarah S finished by a strong margin followed by the other Hayling women – all of which possibly used a little local knowledge of waves as both down-winds offered beautiful surfing opportunities.
Race 3 started with a large lead for the RS Aero 5 sailors who chose the left side, however a combination of wind shifts and decreasing pressure meant that by the top of the second place things were looking tight. Iona pulled through from the left, just taking the win from Tracey and Kate.
There was more place changing at the front of the RS Aero 6 fleet with Christina Cunningham (Ballyholme) moving into the lead but doing penalty turns at the last windward mark, losing the lead to Sarah S. It was an *almost* photo finish with Carol Fiddaman (Hayling) just sneaking in 3rd ahead of Anne-Marie Wood (Hayling).
The sail home was a long one but a lovely welcome of gin and tonics, provided by RS Sailing’s Lucy Jameson, was much appreciated, as well as a lovely meal and evening awaiting us!
Day 2: Sunday
Sunday looked challenging. It presented the sailors with a strong breeze combined with low tide – which made for some exciting racing inside the harbour. Many sailors had already committed to not leaving the shore, however peer pressure and guts (mainly peer pressure) did get some of us out! Racing took place up the channel on a turning tide. This resulting in the day’s tactics being much simpler than those from Saturday – keep the boat flat and go fast!
Race 4 for the RS Aero 5s started with a general recall, with the second start getting away with only one casualty! Kate and Iona fought it out, despite Iona doing penalty turns off the start line! They were keenly chased by Georgia Booth (Hayling) and Fiona Pyke (Hayling).
Only the four Hayling RS Aero 6’s ventured out, and we said goodbye to all our visitors. Sarah S led for the first lap, and Carol was lost temporarily to a capsize on the first run. The incident happened coming down the run on port tack approaching the leeward gate, faced with a wall of RS Aero 5s on starboard who had just started after a general recall. The 6s just managed to hook round the gate and head upwind a few boat lengths ahead of the leading 5s. Anne-Marie led at end of second beat but capsized gybing around the mark and lost her lead to Sarah S who was hot on her heels with Sarah M close behind.
Everyone was getting rather tired by Race 5, our final race of the event due to the 1-hour postponement that morning. Again, the 5s forced a general recall, being dragged over by Kate at the committee boat! The second start was all clear, and Iona took a massive lead from the get-go, resulting in claps from the safety fleet upon finish! This was enough to tie the RS Aero 5 result overall between Kate and Iona, with the title going to Kate by virtue of her three 1st places.
Sarah S left us to it for the last race in the RS Aero 6s, and again Anne-Marie almost saw victory and was 1st to the windward mark, only to see it ripped away again with a specular capsize allowing a terrified Sarah M to slip though and have her moment of victory, closely followed by Carol.
RS Aero 5
- 1st – Kate Morrison of Emsworth SC
- 2nd – Iona Willows of Lymington Town SC
- 3rd – Tracey Covell of Hayling Island SC
RS Aero 6
- 1st – Sarah Smith of Hayling Island SC
- 2nd – Sarah Mitchell of Hayling Island SC
- 3rd – Anne Marie Wood of Hayling Island SC
RS Aero 7
- 1st – Amanda Simpson of Hayling Island SC
It was an absolute pleasure to see so many women out at Hayling this weekend. Both visitors and locals enjoyed some amazing racing and a fabulously friendly socials bringing RS Aero women together from across the UK. A big thank you to their partners, who provided services by trolley dolly-ing or support on the water – they were very encouraging! Thank you to Hayling Island Sailing Club for hosting this event and the fantastic Saturday meal, and Rooster for their amazing prizes!
Next up for the UK RS Aeros are the Opens at Notts County on the 30th September and the RS Aero Sustainability Challenge at Spinnaker on 7th October. You can find the full UK & Ireland event lists for the RS Aero Class here.
Event write-up by RS Aero UK Class Association
Photos by Emma Toman