10 boats gathered for the RS500 inland championships at Queen Mary Sailing Club this weekend. After the wind and rain of the previous few days, Saturday was pleasantly sunny and warm, but alas with little wind. It started to build a little while rigging, but at the briefing the PRO promised us it would be dropping off during the afternoon, and was likely to be a bit shifty – both of which were understatements of the highest order! The first race got away cleanly, but soon after the start the fleet were lifted high enough to be laying the first mark and the race was abandoned, the mark reset and we tried again. There followed a game of sailing snakes and ladders, with some very big snakes waiting both up and downwind. Chris Tuckett with pick-up helm Luke Burywood seemed to have negotiated all the hazards successfully and led Hannah Bristow, sailing with Dad Graeme, down the last run. However, the pair had not taken note of the number of laps and let Hannah through right at the end.
The second race had slightly less wind and was slightly more shifty, but there was perhaps a bit more of a pattern to it. Four boats were contesting first for most of the race, although Pete and Karen Matthews were finally dropped on the last lap. Luke/Chris led at the final windward mark, followed closely by Peter Curtis and Sophie Jones with Hannah/Graeme not far behind. However, a big shift to port with the wind filling in from that side reversed the positions with Hannah just taking her second win. For the final race of the day the gusts were strong enough to get crews sat in the middle of the boat, while the lulls were becoming nearly windless. Peter/Sophie and Hannah/Graeme pulled away from the fleet and Hannah performed her now customary trick of overtaking the leader on the last run to take the win.
Sunday was back to wet and miserable, but crucially with more wind, and the promise of more to come. The wind had also swung round, allowing a much longer course, which meant we weren't avoiding pesky 800's quite so much. Luke and Chris unfortunately broke their mast before the first race, so couldn't enjoy the conditions. Most of the fleet spotted the start line was port biased and headed up that end, but not close enough to the pin to prevent John and Ben Corwey making the perfect port flyer start. The front of the fleet saw Peter/Sophie, Hannah/Graeme and Pete/Karen consistently having the best speed, but Robin McKenning and Hannah Burywood had good pace and were never far back. Although the beats always seemed full-on, the downwind legs were a strange mix of mode switching and trying to search out the next gust. Peter and Sophie sniffed out one or two good gusts to take the lead on the first run and stayed there for the rest of the race. Pete and Karen came in next after Hannah and Graeme had “an issue” at the downwind gate.
For race five the gusts went up a notch, which led to a fair number of gybing capsizes, although we were still having to hunt the wind on the runs. Peter and Sophie were dominant in this race taking an easy win. Race six was a much closer affair, with the order at the top mark being Hannah/Graeme, Pete/Karen and Peter/Sophie. Peter gybed left early on the run in search of breeze and was rewarded with a big gust that carried him into the lead. It was a bit hairy at the gate, and Hannah had a capsize that let the others get away. Pete and Karen stayed close to Peter and Sophie for the rest of the race but sailed into a big hole on the final run, and were unable to take advantage when Peter dropped the tiller while gybing and capsized. Anna Zmura and Keith Syke's came through to take fourth.
Peter and Sophie's three wins on Sunday were enough to haul their way past Hannah and Graeme's three on Saturday. Pete and Karen's solid performance on Sunday gave them a well deserved third
Thank you to Peter Curtis for sending in the report and to Gul for thier sponsorship