On a beautiful Saturday morning, reminiscent of a perfect mid-Summer sail, we all headed towards the starting area in displacement mode to begin the RS800 Inland Championship 2023 at Grafham Water Sailing Club.
In Race 1, the fleet split into two groups, with half heading left and the other half going right, making it anyone’s guess who would prevail. The shifting winds created a challenging course, but Bryan Ormond and Anna Prescott (1198) skilfully navigated every shift, taking a commanding lead at the first windward mark and sailed into the distance securing first place. Downwind, it was all about finding the gusts and riding them as long as possible. Although most boats favoured the right side of the course at the leeward gate, Martin Orton and Ian Brookes (1204) made a clearing tack heading left which gifted huge advantages securing second place. Luke McEwen and Hugh Shone (1) tried to catch up but settled for third.
In Race 2, a bit more breeze filled the course and all the boats got off to a clean start. Liz Watton and Christopher Williams (1225) displayed exceptional wind-reading skills, leading from the windward mark to the finish. Peter and James Curtis (825) secured second place, while Luke and Hugh (1) maintained their consistency with another third-place finish.
Race 3 saw some early challenges, with the starboard end of the line being favoured. James Penty and Eddie Grayson (1245) had to tack away to the right, initially losing ground. However, this unpopular move turned out to be a tactical advantage, granting them a substantial lead that they held until the finish. Luke and Hugh (1) secured second place, putting them in the overall lead, with Bryan and Anna (1198) in third.
Sunday morning brought unexpectedly warm weather for October’s start, coupled with a steady breeze of 12-15 knots, setting the stage for Race 4. The fleet remained closely matched, likely due to the steadier winds. As the race unfolded, the right side of the course seemed to offer more breeze. Luke and Hugh (1) claimed victory, followed by Bryan and Anna (1198), and James and Eddie (1245) rounding out the top three.
Race 5 began with a noticeable port bias, and Martin and Ian (1204) took advantage by winning the pin and heading right into the stronger wind. James and Eddie (1245) led around the windward mark but encountered a mishap (James fell off the back), capsizing and allowing the entire fleet to pass. Luke and Hugh (1) capitalised on this opportunity to secure their second win of the day.
In Race 6, a well-balanced start line provided an even playing field. Luke and Hugh (1) established an early lead and maintained it throughout the race, securing a perfect score for Day 2. Blake and Brett Tudor (1043), and James and Eddie (1245) battled for second and third places, respectively. See the final results here.
Thank you to Grafham Water Sailing Club for running a smashing event. Thank you to Rooster for our RS800 National Tour.
We look forward to seeing you all at Rutland for the RS End of Seasons Regatta on 4th-5th November – the grand finale of the 2023 RS800 Rooster National Tour!
Report by James Penty
Photos by Paul Sanwell/OPP