by the RS Aero International Class Association,
Tuesday was the RS Aero Worlds 2022’s long anticipated long distance race, an idea hatched and planned from three years out. The race included a standard lap with a beat and run followed by a downwind slalom of five screaming broad reaches back and forth across the whole width of the Gorge. The fleet then continued on a mega run towards Home Valley before a goliath upwind home assisted by the region’s great peak’s snowmelt producing the fast flowing Columbia Gorge River current to make the long beat home manageable and fast. The finish was finally off the CGRA clubhouse HQ, in front of the grandstand and applauding crowds before FREE BEER ashore. Again the westerly breeze had kicked in stronger than ever, perfect for a scenic tour eastwards – Bring it on!
Ppre-start it appeared at one point that both ends of the line were favoured, with a starboard lift on the Washington side and a port lift on the southerly Oregon side. The dilemma again was whether to take the left shift of the Oregon shore or the strong current in the deep channel on the right on the Washington side. Ultimately the Oregon end prevailed with the port lift dominant, countering the current gain on the far right.
The RS Aero 7s were first off again and one of the lightest sailors, Andy Mack (USA), led to the top mark by picking the best line up the left side. There were several lead runners amongst the early casualties as gusts smashed the fleet downwind. Peter Barton (GBR) rolled in whilst gybing on the first run and had a prolonged recovery. As the fleet progressed downwind the conditions became wilder with ferocious gusts and larger steeper more treacherous waves. Noah Rees (GBR) scored a prefect 10/10 transom over bow dismount on the bottom run as waves built up at the leeward end of the long Gorge fetch against the current.
Andy Mack kept his lead to the leeward mark at Home Valley with Dalton Bergan (USA), Jay Renehan (USA) and Noel Butler (IRL) close behind. Dalton edged through to take the win with Jay in 2nd. Upwind grafters Jack Miller (GBR) and Peter Barton (GBR) came through to 3rd and 4th, mostly backing the current and high starboard angle on the right. Stasi Burzycki came through to 5th with Andy Mack hanging onto 6th.
Jay Renehan (USA) loved the long distance race concept at the Gorge and remarked; “Epically fun and tactical the whole way, including each reach. A key gain available was to take the puffs low on the reaches to plane deep against the current when possible. It was fun calling starboard on Dalton with 3 miles of upwind still to go!”
Gary Ratcliffe (AUS) commented; “Crazy hard racing, fantastic fun and just what we came for. Broad reaching fast against the tide gave exciting mark roundings, especially with the much larger waves at the leeward end.”
The RS Aero 5s sailed a slightly shorter course without the bottom loop. Dieter Creitz (USA) continued his run of bullets, Ryan Zehnder (USA) took 2nd and Yannick Gloster (USA) finished 3rd.
Roy Van Maanen (IRL) had a great race in the RS Aero 5s; “That was an incredibly exciting racing and it was great to make it back to the finish line in good shape! Fantastic to have the opportunity to experience the extended course and this venue is perfect for it. We have enjoyed nice variety in our racing in each of the first free days now, which is really nice.”
This was a big day out for the RS Aero 9s with full power reaches and exhilarating runs. Seattle’s Dan Falk (USA) took another 1st with Keith Hammer (USA) 2nd and Michael Johnson (USA) 3rd.
Overall this leaves Dalton with a good lead in the RS Aero 7s going into the lay-day. A three way ties follows with it all to play for between Peter, Noah and Jay. No change in the standings in the RS Aero 5s with Dieter, Ryan then Yannick. In the RS Aero 9s the top three is Dan, Keith then Michael.
The day concluded with the mid week social – a sociable pub crawl by the fleet to check out the hospitality and brews of Cascade Lock’s two local micro breweries.
Tomorrow is the mid week lay day giving sailors a chance to rest up ready for two more big days RS Aero racing in the Gorge. For those with energy numerous options in the region exist from summer skiing, water board sports, trekking, sightseeing, and wine tasting! Of course, some visitors to the Gorge are likely to choose to go RS Aero sailing for fun and training.
Thanks to all the RS Aero Worlds supporters – West Coast Sailing, RS Sailing, Seattle YC Foundation, Prism Kites, Rooster and Kingfisher Ropes.