Last weekend was the RS200 Southern Championships held by Parkstone YC with 40 boats turning up to take part in a great training event for the Nationals. The race course was set not far off the beach which meant that there were choppy and shifty conditions making it a tough track.
Saturday gave us everything. Racing started in a warm 8-10 knots that built to 15 with some rain and eventually finished with a light 5-7 knots. Race 1 went according to plan with a conservative start going for a counter and we rounded the top mark in 4th. However down the run we went a little bit more adventurous and hung out to the right hand side a bit more, the aim being to get more tidal advantage out to sea. Unfortunately the shift came through from the left and we found ourselves in 6th which is where we stayed until the finish.
Race 2 and we managed to press the start a bit more and rounded the top mark in 2nd and whilst the positions changed around us by people going more extreme on the runs and beats, we managed to hold on to 2nd. The final race was very similar and whilst it started in 15 knots the wind slowly died off throughout the race. We were locked into a tight battle with Matt Mee & Emma Norris when a big left shift came through. We had a good lead but decided to split from our closest rivals and cover the majority. This turned out to be the correct decision as the wind clocked further and further left and we managed to get back ahead of the fleet that went left and held on until the finish.
Overnight we led by 3 points with a score line of 6-2-1. A lot of big names had heavy discards from one of the races so we were happy with how we had sailed.
The next day we arrived to more breeze 13-18 knots and everyone raring to go. Ian & Chloe Martin came out the blocks strong and we went head to head in race 1 with both of us crossing from the pin end, however they did a good job of forcing us into a bad shift and we had to settle for 3rd after we got caught out on the second beat. Race 2 we won the committee boat end and looked good for the first few minutes. But then the wind went back left and Ian & Chloe crossed with a pack in front of us, however a good run got us back in to 2nd but we couldn't quite dial in to the shifts and had to settle for 3rd again.
This left us with an interesting 15 minutes in between the races trying to work out the maths. We figrued only Ian & Chloe could beat us and they had to finish worse than 10th in order for us to win. We initiated our team racing manoeuvres and after a general recall we managed to lock Ian & Chloe above the starboard end and held them there long enough for the fleet to escape. We started 30 seconds after the rest of the fleet and managed to sit on top of them for the rest of the beat. Unfortunately, even whilst flapping our jib and covering them for a whole beat, we still arrived at the top mark in 7th & 8th. After a tough run Ian & Chloe had managed to escape our grasp and a poor leeward mark rounding saw us get stuck and fall into the teens as they shot through the remainder of the fleet to finish 3rd and take the event.
It was a disappointing end to what was a great result for us over the weekend. Tested ourselves out on the people you would expect to be at the top at the Nationals and got in some well needed sea practice before the Nationals in Abersoch.
George & Sophie