Report by Luke South
Outstanding race management, cracking wind, sunshine, waves and heaps of Stokes Bay Sailing Club assistance for launching and retrieval! The RS300 Rooster National Tour made waves with two days of racing over the 19th and 20th August in Gosport, Hampshire.
Nine sailors made the first day with the Class boat jockey being appointed last minute Saturday morning to local sailor Charlie South. With 20 to 25 knots and a solid ‘Stokes Chop’ the RS300s were a little slow off the beach for more than just the apprehension of what was to come…
As we slowly made our way off the beach, South Jnr (Charlie South) popped the track on the class mast leading to Pete Mackin helping to get Charlie back on the water with another mast. This meant the two strong wind specialists were going to be late to the line! The rest of the fleet were also either swimming or not paying attention as the gun went leaving Dave Acres and Tim Le Couillard the whole line to themselves. Needless to say, Dave disappeared, leaving Luke South and Richard Le Mare to chase the two starters down. The first of Luke’s many unforced errors of the weekend left him in irons allowing Dave to take the gun very, very comfortably. As Richard closed the gap on Luke the pair had a close battle; Richard closing in upwind and Luke extending down. Most impressively Pete and Charlie, both on the beach at the start gun, sailed fast to pull in with a third and fourth after Dave, having forgotten to tally, was demoted from first to DSQ for Race 1!
Race 2 and Andy Reynolds boat had had enough for the weekend, and Luke and Tom Moore (in an A rig) occupied themselves with a ‘capsize-off’ swapping places as they swam. As such I’ve no idea what happened at the sharp end other than Pete won over Charlie, with Dave in third having “checked for weed” on the awesome, extreme and terrifyingly fast top reach. To quote Tom “it was probably the most exciting RS300 sailing I’ve ever done!”
Race 3 and if anything the wind and waves had increased. The front three – Pete, Charlie and Dave – were in a class of their own leaving Tom and Luke to fight for fourth and fifth. Returning bruised, battered but exhilarated from three challenging races at the very top-end of RS300 raceable conditions the whole fleet, including those who opted for an early beer, agreed it was a top day on the water. However Charlie was experiencing a sense of Déjà vu from the 2022 Nationals as the class boat limped back to shore full to the brim.
Sunday dawned with a much more sensible 8 to 15 knots and the RS300s were not caught out by the prompt start of racing this time – we were ready! With the tide pushing us back from the line, heading along the beach was going to be key. Tom had swapped up to the B rig and showed impressive starting skills and boat speed to lead the pack off, chased hard by Pete and Dave who eventually overhauled him. Luke couldn’t get close to Tom and a nervous look over the shoulder saw Matt Sargent with his afterburners on tearing up the last beat and run forcing him in to defence and cover to hold on for the fourth.
Race 5 and the wind had popped up a little and with tide and line bias meaning the committee boat end was favoured. Pete pulled off an audacious and perfectly timed start; coming in late on port tacking under Luke as the gun went and squeezing him out whilst sling-shoting across the line! Luckily for Luke this left a lane to flop into along the shore out of the tide with the Dave, Pete and Luke meeting up again at the top mark within a couple of boat lengths of each other. As the three kept close downwind the second beat was decisive, with Dave forcing Pete to tack off in to the last of the tide leaving Luke to follow Dave home.
Race 6 and the wind had dipped and shifted. Tom was the only one to pick up on the shift leading off the line with miles of room on port tack. Luke had noticed far too late and, reaching down the line, slipped across prematurely and had to return on advice of the RO! As the fleet disappeared off to the shore Luke headed out into the (decreasing) tide in desperate hope and got lucky re-joining Tom, Pete and Dave at the windward mark. Dave and Luke exchanged places a few times in the gusts and waves before Luke extended away on the reach and Pete squeezed past Tom on the second beat. With a gaggle of Europa’s and OKs between Pete and Tom, and then Tom and Luke, the results weren’t going to change.
- 1st = Pete Mackin – 7 points
- 2nd = Dave Acres – 13 points
- 3rd = Luke South – 14 points
- 4th = Tom Moore – 20 points (Mid Fleet Hero!)
- 5th = Charlie South – 21 points
- 6th = Tim Le Couillard – 30 points (1st place endeavour)
- 7th = Matt Sargent- 32 points
- 8th = Richard Le Mare – 42 points
- 9th = Andy Reynolds Jones – 48 points
All in All
Many thanks to Stokes Bay Sailing Club for the weekend providing an excellent mix of exhilarating RS300 sailing “at the edge of raceable” coupled with great fleet racing in near perfect conditions. Local legend Pete gave us all a masterclass in sailing the RS300 in both the challenging extreme Saturday and more acceptable Sunday! Thank you to Rooster for sponsoring the RS300 National Tour. See you at the Noble Marine Allen National Championship at Dovey Yacht Club 7th to 10th September. Online entry is open here.
Sailing photos by Sue Nelson. Prizegiving photos by Dan Vincent.