13 RS 21’s Descended on Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy to kick off the 2022 RS Games with their National Championship.
With teams ranging from the youthful Sea Cadets to those with more years racing than they would care to admit to it was always going to be interesting to see where the dice would fall.
A couple of light wind races would kick off the series inside Portland harbour and bursting out of the blocks was RS Sailing legend, Oscar Corden showing the fleet how it was done. Unfortunately for him, he should them a bit too well and by the end of the final run, Hugh Watson and Ali Morrish had both slipped past to take first and second respectively.
Race Two saw Watson, now more up to speed, take a commanding lead from start to finish with Morrish pushing him hard around the track and Paul Fisk from Emsworth SC, more used to racing the symmetrical RS Elite, taking third place.
Day two saw the fleet venturing out in to Weymouth bay only to find a brisk Easterly Breeze pushing the English channel at them with a fairly steep chop. Dave Lynall took the first win of the day, just ahead of Hugh Watson with Michiel Geerling, the 2019 National Champion getting his first podium of the event. Race four saw Paul Fisk pip fellow RS Elite racer Tim Peters to first place with Dave Lynall rounding out the podium in third. Hugh Watson returned to his winning ways of day one with a victory in the final race of the day with Tim Peters taking his second, second place in a row and Dave Lynall gaining another podium finish.
For the third day of racing the RS21 fleet headed out to Weymouth Bay again but this time with a bit more breeze but from the South West the sea was less choppy and more set up for decent surfing conditions. The sailors grinned their way around the course as the racing got tighter and tighter with places changes keeping everyone on their toes and no one knowing who had crossed the line infront of whom until they had checked the results, one pair in fact too close to call a declared a tie. A mildly frustrated Hugh Watson finished the day with three second places to cement his lead at the head of the fleet and he jokingly complained that he kept getting pipped to the finish line by inches, with Tim Peters stealing the first win and Dave Lynall taking the next two. Places varied quite a bit down the fleet as small errors could cost two or more places and so the scores overall tightened such that anyone in the top seven could take second place overall after the final two races.
The 2022 UK Nationals concluded on Sunday 24th July with two more races in Weymouth Bay. As luck would have it, day four saw the breeze crank up a notch again and the sailors debated rig settings on the dock before departing for a long training run to the start.
Race nine saw everyone pushing for every advantage and all the teams were within half a boat length of the line at the gun, unfortunately for Paul Fisk and his team of Caroline Fisk, Richard Tucker and Pippa Jubb, who needed two good results to take third place, the crossed the line less than a second early and the OCS score dropped them out of the running for the chocolates. Around the course the racing was as close as ever with different boats leading at each mark and tough decisions to make on which way to go as the breeze dropped of Portland on to the track. By the end of the race, it was Hugh Watson with his team of Helen Watson, Susanna Bickford and Emma McEwan who had clawed their way to the front and with it, secured the National Championship title.
The final race of the championship was now to decide who would be taking home Bronze and Silver medals. Tim Peters and his team of Phoebe Peters, Olive Peters and Ben Bradley had been strong in the earlier, lighter races but as the Breeze had built through the event, it was the heavy airs speed of Dave Lynall, Alex Mathieson, Thomas Jubb and Ian Jubb that proved too much to overcome. A win for Lynall in the final race secured them second overall.
With the race committee sensibly finishing the final race at the windward mark, the teams had a quick sail home past the hordes of RS Feva teams who were finishing their final qualification races, before heading to the RS Sailors Hub for prizegiving with prizes from Rooster Sailing and of course, prosecco drenching everything from the fellow competitors to the magenta carpet.
After accepting the trophy as National Champion, Hugh Watson thanked all of the volunteers who made the event happen and said “We’ve had such a great time in a great boat, it’s been close, competitive racing but really fair, I don’t think we’ve had any protests.
And obviously, to my amazing team, it’s been a priviledge to watch how they have learned a new boat and helped me around the race course, thank you my amazing ladies!”
Helen Watson, said “It’s and amazing boat to sail. One of my big takeaways was that there were sailors from 14 to 60+ competing equally and cery competitive. Lots of women across the fleet and people of all sizes. A fantastic class to be in. Hopefully, we’ll be back again next year for more close racing”