A glorious weekend was enjoyed by the 35 RS200s who descended on Highcliffe Sailing Club on 18/19 April 2009. With little breeze forecast the week before, the fleet was met with a good F2-4 and sun cream requiring strength sunshine all weekend.
With the breeze from the northwest (offshore) and around 10 – 12 knots, race one started and, three quarters of the way up the beat those on the right were looking good. However, a huge 50 degree shift to the left, which set the tone for the weekend, saw those on the left let out of jail. James Stewart/Eluned Jones took full advantage to win, followed closely by Ben Saxton/Kate McGregor in 2nd and, in a rare appearance, Hamish Calder/Severine Rees-Jones 3rd.
Race two started in slightly less breeze, but with some interesting shifts and puffs coming off the shore. Calder/Rees-Jones showed they had lost none of their skills by winning comfortably. Saxton/McGregor were a consistent 2nd again while Trudie Fell/Rachel Jones showed the boys how to read the shifts best to finish 3rd.
With a little sea mist rolling across the course, the PRO sneaked in a final race for the day. The first beat saw a good breeze and Saxton/McGregor take the early lead. However, as the leaders approached the 2nd leeward mark, the breeze decided to play some cruel games. The final leg started normally, but soon saw a 180 degree shift and spinnakers popping up on the ‘beat’, with the fleet concertinaing together nicely. Saxton/McGregor held their nerve to take the win, but behind chaos reigned. Fell/Jones masterly decided to sail round the outside of the stationary fleet to go from the mid twenties and steal 2nd place, while James Peters/Alan Roberts just held on for 3rd. An exhausted fleet then had a long sail in, hoping the wind would reappear on Sunday.
The prayers were answered Sunday morning with a lovely F4 blowing, although still coming off the northwest shore. Big shifts were again the order of the day, with those boats who could sniff them out generally ending up smelling of roses.
Saxton/McGregor stamped their authority all over the fleet recording a 2nd and 1st in the first two races of the day to win the event overall with a race to spare. Behind them the form book of the fleet returned a little, with Peters/Roberts recording a 1st and 2nd and Dave Hivey/Emma Clarke taking two thirds in the first two races of the day.
The final race of the day saw the fleet being a little over eager to start (was it the hangovers kicking in or too much sun affecting them?), resulting in 14 boats being OCS or having a 20% penalty. Hivey/Clarke kept cool to finish the weekend on a high with a first place, Saxton/McGregor had another 2nd and James Boyce/Sam Tozer finally found the throttle pedal to take 3rd.
At the final count, Saxton/McGregor were comfortable winners, showing great consistency in the tricky conditions. Peters/Roberts pulled through to finish 2nd, just two points in front of Hivey/Clarke in 3rd.
The silver fleet was won by Karen Baker/Ed Whitehead, a heady 8th o/a, from John Teague/Lynn Billowes, while Matt Sheahan/Ellie Sheahan won a tightly contested bronze fleet from Neil Chadborn/Lucy Hall.
Overall, a cracking weekend, with many thanks to all at Highcliffe SC, especially PRO Peter Bell and the mark laying team, for running great racing in some tricky breeze and providing such warm hospitality (and having such a cheap bar!). Next racing circuit event is up north at Yorkshire Dales SC on 9/10th May.