by Paul Fisk
A small, lean and keen fleet of four RS21s joined around 600 sailors in the Scottish Series at Tarbert on beautiful Loch Fyne with four days of racing over the bank holiday weekend of 26-29 May.
The RS21s were lucky to have their own class start within the regatta’s one design course which was shared with the 707, Etchells and Sigma 33 classes. Every morning, the fleet were played out of the harbour to the wonderful sight and sound of a lone piper from the Loch Fyne Pipe Band perched on a rock at the harbour entrance – what a way to start the day!
The race team, led by Principal Race Officer David Denholm ably assisted by Eilidh Miller, defied the odds on Day 1 to run three races in very light wind and sunshine. After a long day on the water, Liam Willis with crew Keith Willis, Will Taylor and Will Homewood in Dark and Stormy were clear leaders with a 2, 1, 1 scoreline. In second overall was Duncan Hepplewhite with crew Emma, Craig and Rona Hepplewhite in Sailingfast, closely followed by Calum Bell and crew Tom Mitchell, Suzie Homer and Christine Wood in A-Plan Insurance.
This young team of 18-25 year old sailors has been developed by A-Plan Insurance along with Haven Knox Johnston. The aim is to give young sailors who are coming to the end of their RYA youth pathway an opportunity to experience one design keelboat sailing. The A-Plan RS21 team are all Scottish based and must have a 50/50 split male/female. This is a very exciting opportunity for the sailors, but also for the marine industry. It has attracted support from Rooster Sailing, Marlow Ropes and Sailingfast. The team will have the boat to compete in the British Isles and Ireland RS21 Cup, racing at Scottish Series, Dun Laoghaire, the Nationals at Lymington and the World Championship in Sardinia. The day’s racing finished with generous drinks on the pontoon sponsored by Sailingfast and Doig and Smith.
Three more races were run on an overcast Day 2 in mixed breeze which built as the day went on to finish with a welcome downwind blast for all crews – a great opportunity for the RS21 to show what it can do given a bit of breeze. Dark and Stormy maintained a healthy overall lead with a consistent set of results (3, 2, 1) with the youthful A-Plan team chasing hard with a 2, 1, 4. In the meantime, the Hepplewhites in Sailingfast (4, 3, 3) were holding off Paul Fisk and crew Caroline Fisk, Pippa Jubb and Richard Tucker in Responsible Sailing (1, DNF, 2) for the final podium place. Following drinks on board the Spirit 65 ‘Chloë Giselle’, courtesy of Dark and Stormy, the fleet enjoyed a spectacular firework display and a lively Scottish Series Saturday night party with revelling into the early hours.
Two more bullets for Dark and Stormy in both of Day 3’s light wind races in more glorious sunshine gave them what looked like an unassailable lead with two races scheduled for the final day. Sadly, with the Loch looking like a sheet of glass all racing on Day 4 was cancelled, so the final results were Dark and Stormy first overall, A-Plan Insurance second and Responsible Sailing just taking third on countback from Sailingfast.
As this competitive and fun fleet builds momentum, we are all looking forward to a healthy balance of partying and racing at the next round of the British Isles and Ireland Cup which takes place as part of Dún Laoghaire Regatta from 6 to 9 July. Visit www.rs21ukclass.org for all event details, dates and charter opportunities.