he weekend of 19 & 20 April witnessed the arrival of 43 RS 400’s to the stunningly picturesque waters of Lake Windermere. RWYC is a proper posh (and very welcoming) yacht club with GREAT catering as well as complimentary toiletries in the showers - very important to the fashion-conscious RS sailor.
The swell in numbers at this early stage of the calendar shows promise of encouraging turnouts for the season. It was also very pleasing to see a large contingent of local boats turn out to join the racing.
Race 1 kicked off with a 30 degree shift followed by the breeze shutting off for 5 minutes: just long enough to allow the fleet to compress. A number of boats elected to go right and were rapidly doomed and emotions ran high as an equal number of boats overstanding the port layline by tens of boatlengths were suddenly smelling of roses. Nobody was ready for "winter” to make a guest appearance for a couple of laps. Downdraughts, boat-tacking shifts, rain, hail, FORKED Lightening caused some mishaps including the odd capsise (ahem) as well as much exciting reaching Mike Hart & Sally Kilpatrick did well to capitalise on the swinging breeze to come through first followed by Paul & Mike Allen and then Chris Gowers & June Riley. A long pause followed as the race officer made brave efforts to re-align the race course with the wind which clocked progressively through 270 degrees pausing at regular intervals just long enough for the race marks to be dropped in - only to continue moving round the companss.
An ominous sign for race 2 which started with promise in a steady hiking breeze but rapidly became an endurance drift-athon. Special mention to Chris & Jane Bailey, whose break from 400 sailing has clearly done them good. Leading all the way up the beat only to tack and miss the toestraps causing a capsise and an interesting road block on the starboard layline. Chris Gowers made the best of the drifting. Then the Allens, and then Dave Jones / Mark Hogan.
Saturday night was memorable for the splendid catering at RWYC (apparently the local butcher is an enthusiastic member - jolly good). A very well-organised pub crawl provided the opportunity for all sailing folk to interact with the local population and sample lakeland ales - as well as RUM.
Sunday was greeted with less enthusiasm, but as the fleet launched, Garda - like conditions started to fill in. The first race of the day was all about winning the pin and working over to a nice wind bend providing a great lift up to the windward mark. Mike & Sally first, Dave Exley & NIgel Hall second, Allens third. And finally, for 6 boats a rare opportunity to discuss the racing rules of sailing whilst moored up to one another and the committee boat on the finish line.
Second race was starting practice. Lots and lots of starting. Fifth go, and the fleet were allowed to carry on up the beat. Allens first, Sam Parker, Stu Jagger second, just a whisker ahead of Chris & June 3rd
Final race provided another round of Champagne sailing: bright sunny planing conditions amid mountain scenery: if it wasn’t for the wooly hats it could have been Garda. The conditions did get the better of some sailors however: Simon Pritchard Jones and Sally Porter took an unlucky tumble having hooked a baseball cap on their rudder, which affected the boat’s stability “very much indeed”. Allens first, Hamish Gledhill & Simon Dowse second, Chris & June 3rd.
So in the final reckoning it was Mike & Sally 3rd, Chris & June 2nd and the Paul and Mike Allen in first place. Mike said success was partly down to the special 3mm spin sheets he uses for “light conditions”... perfect, but a bit of a struggle in the 18 knot gusts experienced on Sunday... In the silver fleet, local Bassenthwaite boats of Robin Dawson/Ian Smith and Mark Somerville/ Joe Roberts took 1 and 2, with 3rd place going to James George and Simon Kinsey.
All prizes were generously donated by a local chandlery. A fantastic weekend on and off the water. Many thanks to all at RWYC and as this author types the report en route back to Southampton, well worth the effort of making the journey. We hope to see Windermere on the circuit next year!