The second racing circuit event for the RS300's was held jointly with the Phantoms and Solutions at Draycote Water sailing club. The early arrivals were welcomed on Friday night with a BBQ and a well stocked bar in anticipation for the now almost legendary drinking antics of the 300 fleet (which needed restocking after the first night due to an alarming thirst for Sambuca ca ca!)
Saturday dawned with a very gusty SSW. Base wind was a solid F4 with crazy, powerful gusts well described as a frisky, binary wind that caught a few out on the way to the start line.
The first race started on time in the blustery conditions with Steve Bolland showing a clean pair of heels to the fleet but being chased hard by Phil Underwood (clearly gaining speed from his sons success), Russ Hopkins and Chris Gandy. Steve was never challenged for the lead and Phil was in a solid second only to sail around the committee boat until he randomly crossed the line in 6th handing second to Chris and 3rd to a late starting Richard Le Mare.
Race 2 and the conditions hadn’t calmed but now Richard was on the start line he could make his pies pay and had a convincing lead after the first lap with Steve and Phil battling for 2nd and 3rd. Richard held his lead well with Steve using his (unbelievable) fitness to claw into Richards lead with Phil and Tim following behind. This shorter 3 lap race really caught Richard napping and as he sailed off for another lap Steve snuck down to the finish to take the win leaving Richard to spit feathers for second with Chris taking 3rd.
After the 2nd race the race officers took the decision to postpone due to a lot of boats being on the shore and a very menacing looking storm approaching quickly which left everyone scampering for cover. Once the cloud had passed, discussions ensued and the Phantoms and Solutions decided the free beer was more appealing "than going back out in that".
The more stubborn 300's elected to go for another race. The race started in probably the best conditions of the weekend, a glorious steady f3 giving the lighter weight crews a real chance. By half way up the first beat it was looking very close with much crossing and calls of 'starboard'. The fleet was once again narrowly lead by Steve. Unfortunately for the lightweights the breeze came back up again with real vigor. This led to a very hairy run as the gusts seemed to be increasing in intensity and was just too much for Steve to prevent a windward roll and a swim handing the lead to Richard. Jez White (who had only bought his boat on Thursday) impressed with a very strong third place. On the final run a huge gust was just too much for Richard to save and let Steve through to take the win, Richard second and Jez holding on to his hard earned third.
The Saturday night catering was thoroughly enjoyed by all and the newly replenished bar was duly depleted again.
Sunday dawned with a few more sore heads and what looked like a steadier wind but unfortunately out on the water it was swinging like crazy. Eventually it settled just enough to get into sequence. But as the first beat started the hail storm from Valhalla descended upon the fleet and with it a huge direction change round to the west. The wind increased to, well lots, meaning those on the right were reaching into the windward mark and those who went left were well and truly buried. The best reader of this was Mike Bees who must have been disappointed when the race officer abandoned and reset again. After the squall the weather finally settled and produced a sunny f3 to f4.
The wait was really worthwhile with the 4th race take 2. Paul Bowers made a great start and first beat to round the windward mark first with the fleet tightly bunched up behind. Ian Smith managed to pass Paul on the run and started to build a lead. Tim, Steve and Mike were chasing hard. Tim took the lead on Lap 3 showing great boat speed upwind for a fly weight, closely followed by Ian and Steve. The final reach was really close with a nice gust coming at just the right time for Steve to pass both Ian and then Tim to take another bullet. Paul managed to hold on to 7th.
Race 5 was another Bolland benefit with Steve sailing off to another bullet giving him overall victory. Tim followed in second and Mike in third.
With Steve Bolland having 5 bullets he decided to go in to hide from the next imminent squall.
This left the last race wide open to decide 2nd 3rd and 4th overall. Chris Gandy spotted the potential of a port flyer and managed to decimate the entire fleet and take a 15 boat length head start which he would not relinquish. Sir Barry steel would have been proud of you young padowan.
This left the final fight for 2nd and 3rd down to Richard being able to beat Tim over the line. With a long run giving Tim an advantage and closing fast on Richard it was a very close finish with Richard staying high on the final reach to 'make the pies pay' and Tim soaking low with a peep peep Richard must have got the line by inches to secure second in the race and second overall by one point from Chris, who took third by 1 point from Tim.
Here’s looking forward to the Sprint champs at Rutland.