The inaugural RS Aero UK National Championships kicks of this weekend in Weymouth with a staggering 73 entries so far. Just 14 months after the first boats were delivered to owners, there are already 360 RS Aeros at 130 locations in the UK alone.
The Class is fortunate to have their first champs hosted by Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, the venue of the successful 2012 Olympic Games, with their World Class facilities. The vast protected waters of Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay beyond provide some of best race areas in the UK with good winds and versatility. Leading sailing brand, Magic Marine, are on board as sponsors generously providing a fine selection of prizes throughout the fleet.
All of the RS Aero’s three rigs, five, seven and nine are well represented with the seven rig proving most popular with 40 now signed up. The Class is pleased to have International visitors from Holland and Estonia together with competitors from as far afield as Scotland, Isle of Man and throughout the UK.
Continuing close relations with the RS Tera Class has again boosted numbers. A few more outgrown Tera sailors are in together with a few more RS Tera parents who have had enough of being left high and dry by their offspring!
The three RS Aero Classes will race as separate fleets for their respective titles. In addition, in the first race each day will be a mass start and an additional, secondary PY set of results shall be produced for variety and interest in this first season.
The day before racing, Friday 28th, is a Coaching day now customary for big events. Everyone can hone their skills on the Olympic waters, focusing on RS Aero specifics of sail tune and technique ashore before setting some short coached races afloat. With 31 signed up the coaching is a big event in itself with three ribs and a selection of Class Association coaches on hand. Even our PRO, Arky, is on board, officiating the short races to gauge the angles and speeds of the new class before the first start!
Enough waffle! Who is going to win?
With 20 new boats delivered each week and so many new sailors entering their first main event the formbook is always hard to call. But here are some indicators;
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Gareth Griffiths (Island Barn) has been putting the hours and analysis into the Class and is sure to feature in the Masters category and likely the main event too. Chelmarsh’s finest, Matt Thursfield, has been working it up and after a medium wind win at the first UK Series event has proven the Aero’s ability to perform well with over 100kg aboard. Double 49er Olympic Medallist Simon Hiscocks (WPNSA) will be stepping into an RS Aero for the first time on Friday’s coaching and will likely prove a fast learner. Watch out for reigning Aussie Aero champ, David Rickard of Gurnard.
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Showdown of the current World Champions! Glen Truswell (Castle Cove), in International 14s and Peter Barton (Lymington) in RS500s are both reigning World Champs, but how will they fair without their crews and spinnakers? With 39 boats and plenty of new names the form book is far from clear, but you are only as good as your last race and Andrew Snell (ArmySA) won his last two against the tough Gurnard fleet earlier this month. Paul Harwood (Wimbleball) has been smashing out some big GPS speeds on Exmoor, watch out for him when the wind blows.
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Will Taylor (Alton) heads in as favourite having comfortably led the fleet at the Start-of-Seasons and the Dutch Eurocup. However, new young blood is coming in. Can the 2015 RS Tera World Silver Medallist, Henry Jameson (Hayling), dislodge the older 2011 Tera Champ? Watch out for Louis Wright (Hayling) whose heavy airs skills defy his tender years.