Round two of the 2017 RS800 Magic Marine Grand Prix series took place under clear blue skies at Stokes Bay Sailing Club over the weekend of 8-9 April.
Being the location for the National Championships later in the year (21st to 24th September), this was a great opportunity for the teams to familiarise themselves with these fickle waters.
Three races were sailed on Saturday with around 7-11 knots of breeze from the SE and a strong ebbing tide. Heading hard inshore at times was the order of the day, taking care not to run aground or snag any fishing lines! This provided some great up-close entertainment for spectators on the beach.
The now familiar sight of Luke and Emma McEwen controlling things from the front, left everyone else battling it out for ‘best of the rest’ with close tactical racing and plenty of place changing amongst the 18 boats behind. Such was the closeness of the racing that in the five races over the course of the weekend, five different boats took second place honours. Of those five boats, it was great to see that three were crew/ boom sheeters, with a few more teams now opting for this set up.
With the event once again being shared with the B14s, Laser 4000s and Musto Skiffs, the entertaining Easter themed quiz and Easter egg hunt hosted by Dan Vincent and accompanied by copious amounts of beer and curry on Saturday night, turned into a bit of a battle of the classes. Various dubious tactics were employed and the intervention of the jury was required, but it was the Musto Skiffs that took the honours and with it the generous prize of free bacon sarnies from the club’s galley for Sunday breakfast.
Races four and five on Sunday were once again sailed in bright sunshine with slightly more breeze, which although shifty, was still predominantly from the SE. This gave the crews a chance to stretch their legs and clear their heads from the night before. A change in the order of the starts in order to increase the separation of the slower moving B14s from the faster RS800s, made sure everybody was on their toes. The McEwens once again controlled from the front leaving the Jeffries and Tim Gratton / Fiona Hampshire to each take second places respectively.
With the tide ebbing strongly and the wind having fizzled out towards the end of the second race, the race officer made the wise decision to call it a day.
Overall, the McEwens won comfortably, once again discarding a first place and without breaking a sweat. It was Ella and James Moreland sailing smartly, quickly and consistently all weekend that emerged as ’best of the rest’.
It was great to have boats from the thriving local fleet in the mix, with Richard Clampett and Grace Clark finishing as top Stoke Bayers in seventh. Also very gratifying to see the big leaps being taken by class newbies, Julia Judd and Tim Knapp as they start to get to grips with the boat. Making the effort to attend events and the support from the more experienced sailors in the fleet is clearly helping them on their way.
Another fantastic weekend of racing, then, once again blessed with beautiful weather.
European activity kicked off this weekend with the open skiff event in Lac du Der, France. With 17 entries from seven nations the RS800s were the largest class by far. Report to follow. Then it’s the French National Championships in Quiberon 6-8 May and the European Championships in Medemblik, Holland 12-14 May.
by Chris Feibusch