If Carlsberg did sailing regattas, the RS200 Gul sponsored Sprint Championships is probably what they would organise. 34 boats arrived at Rutland SC and were treated to temperatures in the mid 20s, clear blue skies all weekend and a pretty consistent 12-17 knots straight over the dam. Perfect.
The idea of the Sprint Champs is to have lots of short (20mins max) races in small fleets of 8-9 boats over tight courses. Initially, the whole fleet was split into 4 flights of mixed abilities for a first round of 4 races. With no discards allowed, the original flights were then split for semi finals of 4 more races, before Gold, Silver, Bronze and Leather flights were formed for finals. This helped to keep the racing tight in every flight, as with everyone being of a similar ability in each flight, every mistake was punished.
Saturday saw the first round and semi finals sailed, with 32 races completed in glorious conditions. Rutland SC’s PRO did an excellent job in running the races, with most flights having no more than 7-10mins wait between races. He also organised for the sail in back to the club to resemble blasting downwind at Garda, which was very nice.
Sunday morning dawned bright and breezy and the fleet set out now split into the final flights. These had surprisingly gone fairly to form, with the only real big surprise being Ian Martin/Chris Catt in the silver fleet, having been victims of some large spinnaker malfunctions and the no discard rule.
Every flight again saw very close racing, with no one being able to dominate any flight, demonstrating the incredible strength in depth of the 200 fleet. With each flight having 6 races and there still being no discards, the final outcome was in the balance until the very end. Eventually though, the cream rose to the top, with Dave & Jane Hivey coming top in the Gold fleet. They were very closely pursued by Nick Charles (enjoying his last weekend of freedom) & Helen Wightman, with James Boyce & Sam Tozer just squeezing in front of a gaggle of boats in 3rd.
Winners of the silver flight were Martin & Catt, who were fairly comfortably in front of 2nd place John Teague & Louise Fisher. Sue Antonelli & Jo Lloyd just held of club mates Matt & Anthony Greenfield to take the Bronze flight prize, while Rosie & Tom Brearly beat Simon & Kate Gillow on countback to win the Leather flight.
Overall, a brilliant weekends sailing and anyone who hasn’t tried the Sprints format should definitely give it a go next year. A big thank you goes to everyone at Rutland SC for hosting such a great event, as always, and to Gul International for generously sponsoring the event.
Next up for the 200s is the national circuit event at Stokes Bay on 13/14 June 2009, which will also see the RS ball taking place at the Gosport Submarine museum. If its half as good as this weekend, it’ll be another classic.