The fewer sailors, the greater share of honours!
Pete said “Come to the End of Seasons, it will be great!” Not sure on Pete’s interpretation of “Great” (the weather on Saturday was interesting) but it was a fantastic weekend for the RS300 Rooster National Tour End of Seasons & Inland Nationals.
Saturday 4th November 2023
Six intrepid RS300’s had signed on, but by the time I arrived at a very wet, very cold and very windy Rutland Sailing Club, one had already declared no stomach to this fight and departed. A five-strong band of brothers were left ready for the action of the weekend’s racing. Those of you who didn’t attend shall think themselves accursed they were not here. There was some classic close racing in challenging conditions and multiple place changes that the results didn’t quite capture!
The forecast was interesting. Saturday was a mix of consistent downpours alongside cold and heavy gusts that raced down the lake. Enthusiasm for launching across all fleets was low!
Race 1: “Heavy rain, cold, gusty & shifty – 15-20knts”
With our own start, we obediently lined up for the Go. One of our team was predicably late and still some 300m away at the gun – no prizes for guessing that it was Pete… again!
Lawrence made the best of the start, timing his run expertly to show Luke a clean transom down to leeward, with Sam and Harry coming in fast above. Pete eventually crossed the line and tacked off immediately whilst Luke found all the snakes on the shifts. By mark 1 a pecking order for the weekend began to become clear with Harry leading Pete, followed by Sam, Luke and then Lawrence. Pete pulled past Harry on the second beat to take an impressive win given his start!
Race 2: “Heavier ran, VERY cold, gusty & shifty – 13-16knts”
The breeze moderated for the second race and Luke was caught shivering on the final countdown. This allowed Sam to lead off the line, followed by Lawrence, Harry and Pete. To be honest, I can’t quite remember what happened in the race, as the cold was beginning to bite. Pete took his second bullet with Luke cold on his heels. Harry uncharacteristically pulled in a 3rd ahead of Sam. Lawrence, obviously not suffering from the cold, took a swim to cool down!
Race 3: “Rain eased to drizzle, still very cold, steadier wind direction – 8knts dropping to 0knts”
Pre-start manoeuvres saw Sam and Harry lining up at the port end with Lawrence, Pete and Luke pilling down the line on starboard as the gun went. A well timed start; the two port-end flyers were off squeezing past Luke – they were going fast…. but in the wrong direction! Luke and Pete exchanged places but at the close of Lap 1, with the wind dropping, Luke was ahead and praying for an early finish. However, the race officer had other ideas as we marched on for Lap 2. Pete and Luke continued to swap places. With the wind shifting left and dropping by the minute, the front four started the last downhill drift. Luke was a boat length or so clear of Pete, with Sam and then Harry slightly further back. Needless to say, Luke choked as Harry went hard left, followed by Pete and Luke who went hard in to reverse letting all-comers through. Pete expertly navigated the tricky conditions to drift off to a significant lead, followed by Harry, Sam and – some way, way back – Luke. Lawrence had a tough day to bring up the rear.
With most sailors on parental duties for fireworks night (and Lawrence not allowed back to play Sunday) the fleet split for the evening with Luke opting for a warm hotel whilst Pete persevered in his Tin Tent.
Sunday 5th November 2023
Sunday dawned and what a difference a day can make! We had sunshine and the breeze was back… with a vengeance! The direction was a little steadier but the gusts were big, very big. Over coffee and bacon butties, the four RS300 sailors surveyed the lake which was mostly white caps. All looked much more appropriately dressed after Saturday’s big chill!!
Race 4: “Sunshine, chilly but not cold, gusting 18-25knts”
Sam again went for a port ender – it was going to be close! However, as a reward for his audaciousness, Luke dipped the bow by an inch and protected the left lane. The number of place changes between Harry and Luke through the race was too much to keep up with. Luke made a couple of school-boy errors; heading to the wrong windward mark briefly to allow Harry a breather and Pete earlier managed to park himself on a mark! On the final run, Luke had again closed-up on Harry, with Pete never far away. Harry, very politely, went for a swim on the gybe, gifting Luke his lead back. On the final sprint beat to the finish all Luke had to do was tack for the line, Harry was close behind after a quick recovery and Pete had split off not far back. Not used to being at the sharp end, Luke tacked for the pin, only to find it was actually the start pin not finish! Gifting the lead back to Harry, Luke then just squeezed through ahead of Pete for a 2nd!
Race 5: “Sunshine, chilly but not cold, gusty & shifty – 20-25+knts”
Sorry not much to say on this one! The breeze had built again and it was definitely a “hang on to your hats” in the gusts. The four of us rounded the windward mark in very close company; I think Pete, Luke, Harry and Sam. Luke managed to pop round on to the run; neck-and-neck with Pete. The four of us careered downhill picking the waves. Luke had extended away from Pete and Harry. The last thing I remembered was that rolling feeling as a belter came through with a shift as the mast slammed in to the wet stuff. No idea what happened after that. According to the results; Harry won!
Race 6: “Sunshine, chilly but not cold, gusty & shifty – 20-25+knts”
It was all to play for in Race 6. The winner out of Pete and Harry would take the title. If Sam beat Luke he’d take 3rd. If anything, the wind was closer to the 25+knts. Some hefty shifts accompanying the gusts and upwind was getting lumpy. It was full-on sailing and we were all very close. Harry rounded 1st and on his transom Pete, then Sam, with Luke just seconds behind. Places changed hands again and again down the run and the beats – with Harry never really significantly giving up his lead. Pete and Luke seemed locked together and missed Harry tacking off on a shift. This allowed Harry to extend out to the Inland Championship winning lead. This added to his Nationals in the summer and took the end of seasons. Sam decided it was his turn to take a swim, having kept a clean sheet all weekend to come in 4th.
Massive congratulations to Harry securing the triple: National Champion, Inland Champion and End of Season Champion, Pete also cemented his victory of the 2023 Rooster National Tour.
A big thank you to Rooster who have supported another excellent year’s racing across the country for the RS300 class. The 2023 Rooster National Tour has been a huge success, showing solid growth and a big thank you goes to our sponsors, host venues and the RS300 Class Association.
Event Report by Luke South
Photographs from Pete Mackin