Thursday Evening ended with an excellent championship dinner and a traditional Scottish knees up to follow. This may have left a few weary heads on Friday morning!
Going into the final day of the national championships Christopher Eames and Rachel Tilley were sat in the hot seat, however with the prospect of the crucial 8th race bringing in the 2nd discard meant a number of teams were still in with a shout of taking the title.
Sailors were greeted on Friday morning to the Haar (sea fret) which led to a postponement. Many whispers around the dinghy park suggested that we may not be going sailing today, or was that more down to the fact that the committee boat was left moored high and dry on the hard with the tide out… The standout duckhams nomination of the week!
After around an hour postponement the haar lifted and we were given the green light to launch into a light North easterly breeze. The first race got underway first time and as sailors progressed up the first beat, those sailors who favored the left hand side were rewarded with a large left hand shift lifting them to the windward mark in a ripping flood tide making it somewhat difficult to lay the mark from the starboard lay line as it felt like you were constantly getting sucked down to leeward. Angus Marshall and Ellen Clark led for the final 2 laps of the race whilst being cheered on their fellow sailors only to have it cruelly snatched from them on the final gybe to the line by the Robertsons! Angus and Ellen took second place followed by an excellent 3rd by Ronald Millar and Fraser Mulford.
Race 9 got underway under a black flag after a general recall and it again seemed to pay to go left up the beat which created a hectic game of chicken sailing down the port hand layline against the boats coming the other way down towards the spreader mark. After 3 laps in a shifty and puffy wind it was Sam Knight and Chris Bownes who took the bullet from Jon Gay and Amanda Henderson with Jamie Calder and Keith Bedborough coming through in 3rd. This then left Sam and Chris 5 points behind Chris and Rachel with the potential of one race remaining in the series, however only 15 minutes from the cut off time for the final race, DRAMA!
As the final race went into sequence, there was a 20 degree right hand shift which led to the start being postponded as the course was frantically re-layed. The race eventually got underway with only 3 minutes left before the cut off. As with the previous 2 races, there were some big shifts and pressure differential across the course making for what I imagine would be quite a stressful race if you were challenging for the top. Sam and Chris did all they could by winning the race, as they looked back to count positions between themselves and Christopher and Rachel, they had done enough to snatch victory! The Robertsons crossed in 2nd followed by Jamie Calder and Keith Bedborough who both had a solid day of results.
After a challenging day on the water, Christopher and Rachel came through to take a well-earned 2nd overall in one of the tightest finishes to a nationals that we have seen in many years. Jamie Calder and Keith Bedborough finished an impressive 3rd overall in what was their first RS400 nationals together.
At the prize giving Sam thanked all the volunteers at East Lothian Yacht club who have put on an outstanding nationals on and off the water whilst also thanking his crew Chris and his family for allowing him to devote so much time to their sailing this year.
It’s safe to say that Sam and Chris are worthy winners this year as they showed consistent form right through the wind range. See you at Mounts Bay next year (31st July-4th August)!
Other prize winners were:
- First Silver Fleet: Roo Purves & Callum Gibb, Largo Bay SC
- First Bronze Fleet: Rory Ferrier & Ben, East Lothian YC
- First Lady Helm: Hester Robertson
- First Lady Crew: Rachel Tilley
- First Youth: Roo Purves
- First Grand Master and First Master: Stewart & Sarah Robertson
- Winner of Loving Cup: Christopher Eames & Rachel Tilley
- Endeavour prize: Mike Grant & Alan Birse
Day 4 report written by Steve Cockerill
With a steady westerly blowing through the morning, we waited for the 13:00 start and the release from the beach. What WAS going to happen with the wind. Would it stay in the West – or swing to the East as it had the previous day. The RO was keen to try and run 3 races – but two would give the fleet the elusive second discard – so calculators were at the ready
Just as we thought the east wind was going to win, the west came good. The short delay also worked in everyone’s favour as now we had the ebb holding us back from the line.
First around the top mark was Jon Gay and Amanda Henderson from Roo Purves. Both had worked the left pretty hard. In fact, any tack to the right was costly on the first beat. LEFT WAS BEST.
The second lap proved tricky. `There were some major gains to be made – but the writer was oblivious to them. The Robertson’s appeared from no-where, whilst Chris and Rachel had worked the percentages moving slowly through the fleet. Jamie Calder and Keith were mixing it with the Cockerill’s. Not so much as a chocolate wrapper between them. However, the final lap was a super place changer. If you took the left gate – you were going to make some major gains as the wind started to clock right. A slow and progressive shift to the right meant for some great circle routes for those looking for the pot of gold on the left. I can promise it WAS painful.
On the last downwind the leaders took the long starboard aiming to gain the most from the header coming back to the left as the wind continued to shift left (looking downwind) but slightly overcooked the lay line which enabled Chris and Rachel to take a shortcut, soaking over them to take second from Roo with Jamie Calder in third which raised them to third overall.
As the West wind died completely we chased East towards Bass Rock, looking for the new Eastly breeze which did not quite materialise. AP over A and we had a long sail home against the current. As it happens the West wind filled back in nicely and we were hiking again by the time we hit the beach, just in time to enjoy some local Stewart Brewing beers and impromptu music.
Day 3 report written by Andy Powell
Wow as days on the water go, day 3 of the RS400 Nationals can only be described as “WACKY RACING” and quite probably the thing of race officers’ nightmares
The day started with a solid 12 kts of breeze from the NW and after a lovely sail from shore the fleet lined up for race 1, much as we had the day’s proceeding, that’s when it all changed.
Eger to get racing the fleet pushed over the line leading to general recall 1. The fleet once again lined up and once again the fleet was recalled
At this point the sea breeze started to kick in and, just as discussed at the tack ticks talk, it continued to veer around a full 180 deg to the east before stabilising.
After a lengthy postponement, the fleet once again lined up in a solid 10 kts of see breeze this time in the shadow of Bass Rock! This turned out to be general recall 3 of the day.
Finally, we got a race away cleanly on a race course that was covered in wind holes but this provided close tactical if not at times frustrating racing with even the very best sailors wondering into patches of almost now wind.
As a result, the racing was close and at the leeward mark rounding’s sometimes too close with shouts echoing over the water, “Windward”, “starboard”, “water”, “overlap”…. Often I think from the same boats as boats arrived at the same time from every conservable angle.
The racing was close at the top of the fleet and the leaders of the regatta changed for the first time this week. So great sailing from Chris and Rachel in 1528.
Following 2 races the RO signalled a third was on the cards before the sea breeze turned off like a switch, leaving most of the fleet stranded.
A huge thank you to the ELYC Rib crews for towing in many after a very long and difficult day on the water and to the amazing beech team for helping to drag the boats through the sand, such a wonderful sight to be greeted by.
What better way to finish a day like that with a lively AGM…… I wonder what Day 4 will hold in store?
Day 2 report written by Alan Mclean and Martin Booth
View from the Cheap Seats RS 400 476. While the rockstars were smashing it at the front of the fleet the real excitement was to found in bitterly fought battles in the Bronze fleet between 30 th and 35 th places. Totally baffled by the excellent tactics talk by Jim Sinclair your correspondent and his helm headed out with dreams of glory to be shattered once again by the RS gods.
Big kudos to the marvellous ELYC team who helped launch us into R3 and R4 of the national series. Kite up, sweet westerly winds, sun and the mighty Bass Rock provided a superb backdrop to our first capsize on the way to the start due to user error. Damp but unbowed we arrived at the line with five minutes to spare and a desire to dominate the bottom third of the bronze fleet, by any means necessary.
Following the start script to the letter we were pushed off the line by the big boys and bobbed across in last place. Things could and did only get better as we headed right into wind (and tide) and pulled back half a dozen places at the first windward mark. Many thanks to Mike and Alan in 1294 for their entertaining capsize at the spreader ensuring another place gained for us. They enjoyed it so much they had another capsize in R4. Hester and Richard (1148) and Andy and Robert (Pink Panther 1521) provided close racing over the three legs. The third race finished on a close reach in champagne sailing and we were elated to make 29 th place.
The committee started the fourth race promptly, sticking the knife into Hester and Richard by interrupting their nice quiet lunch and ensuring they were two minutes late for the start. It didn’t stop them gaining ten places and finishing 25 th overall. Dropping wind compressed the fleet at the first mark and we caught the silver fleet who tried to look cool and pretended to welcome us. It was nice to sit in the middle of the fleet for a change. On the second reach we found small corridor of brisk wind and enjoyed a vastly entertaining screaming port tack reach through the grown-ups on starboard who seemed very upset. Someone threatened a protest so we threw in a 360 which lost us about five places but racing remained tight to the end with a glorious victory over Doug and Bruce in 1195 who had snatched a place from us the previous day.
The ELYC beach team provided muscle to bring us up the sand. A fabulous day’s racing by the oldest boat in the fleet and looking forward to more tomorrow.
Day 1 report written by Hamish Gledhill
Day1 RS400 Noble Marine National Championships – East Lothian Yacht Club. Monday 8 th August It’s a long way, they said, but it’s worth it. To be honest it didn’t even feel that far, but what a place and what a forecast. Sun and wind – for the next few days at least!
RS400s started drifting into the picturesque town of North Berwick from Wednesday onwards, as some crews took the opportunity to enjoy what the town has to offer before the serious business starts on Monday. By Sunday afternoon most of the RS400 fleet was assembled in the dinghy park, with the hum of activity whilst sailors slowly went about their business of faffing and fettling (what could be better), whilst catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones. All this with a clear blue sky and the beautiful backdrop of the Firth of Forth.
Many crews gathered in the yacht club in the evening for an entertaining and informative tactics talk by ex-RS400 sailor and multiple championship OOD, Jim Sinclair, before a quick beer or two and complementary scotch pie before heading off for some dinner.
Monday morning saw more blue sky and a stiff westerly breeze. The fleet was released promptly from the beach at 12:15, ahead of the scheduled 13:00 start, as they sailed to the eastern bay with the imposing backdrop of Bass Rock.
It soon became apparent that there wasn’t quite as much wind as people were expecting on the beach, but there was still a decent F4.
The first race started cleanly in almost perfect conditions as most of the fleet headed left, heeding the advice from the evening’s tactics talk, with wind convergence and less tide towards the shore being too much to miss out on. Downwind was less prescriptive, with competitors taking their own decisions and position changes being more frequent.
Christopher Eames and Rachel Tilley from Queen Mary SC extended their lead on the last lap to take the win ahead of Sam Knight and Chris Bownes from Bartley SC. Behind them the scrap for positions was tight with Steve and Sarah Cockerill from Stokes Bay taking third place. Stewart and Sarah Robertson from Royal Forth Yacht club suffered for the chaos at the last mark, having to drop the kite and complete a penalty turn before crossing the line, losing a couple of places in the process.
The second race got off promptly and like clockwork the fleet headed left, with more confidence than in race one. Sam and Chris played a few shifts on the top half of the beat to round the windward mark in first place and extended their lead to take the win ahead of Christopher and Rachel. Neil McLellan and Hannah Robertson from Dalgety Bay SC recovered from a snapped wing- wang line in the first race to take third place ahead Phil Murray and Neil Schofield from Tynemouth SC.
Overnight Sam and Chris and Christopher and Rachel are tied on points, with the rest of the fleet with work to do to keep them in their sights.