United Kingdom

Magic Marine RS800 Grand Prix Southern Championship

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RS800 Magic Marine Southern Championships 2016, Lymington

The fickle waters of the Western Solent certainly provided a good mix of sailing conditions for the 12 RS800 teams who were organised enough to enter before the event entry limit was reached for this all RS classes extravaganza.

Quality racing was always guaranteed with defending title holders, Pete Barton and Chris Feibusch, reigning National Champions, Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire, last Grand Prix event winners, Luke and Emma McEwen and quick-out-of-the-blocks newbies to the fleet (and Team GB sailors), Jack Hawkins and Rory Hunter among the protagonists.

On day one, light, patchy winds and a strong ebbing tide running up the course (and later across the course as the light breeze veered North) meant that, depending on your point of view, the racing was either intensely tactical or a total lottery.  I suspect the two race winners of the day, John Warburton / James Clapham and Jack Hawkins / Rory Hunter, would take the former view; for everyone else it was a case of keep calm and sail on and hope not to wreck your series on day one!

The first start, on a heavily port biased line and with a raging current dragging the fleet up the course, was never likely to go smoothly.  Sure enough Andy and Ally “we weren’t trying to port tack the fleet, honest” Jeffries, managed to hook up the pin end and drag it a few boat lengths upwind whilst simultaneously shielding it from view for the rest of the fleet.  Despite causing mayhem for everyone else they managed to re-start, exonerate themselves with a turn and sail themselves up to respectable 6th by the finish.  One of the teams worst affected by the start line chaos, Pete Barton and Chris Feibusch had the advantage of Pete’s considerable local knowledge.  This saw them head inshore on the first downwind leg aiming to make up lost ground by sailing out of the tide and off into the sunset.  However, in doing so they also found themselves sailing out of the pressure and out of contention.  So much for local knowledge.  John Warburton and James Clapham held their nerve to take the race win from the other local team of Luke and Emma McEwen.

The second race saw a new wind direction off the land creating an even more fickle race course.   This turned out to be a proper game of snakes and ladders with Jack Hawkins and Rory Hunter skilfully finding more ladders than everyone else to take the win.  With a 3rd in race one this gave them the overnight lead as race three was postponed to the following day.

The fleet benefitted from a great night of Lymington hospitality and live music.  Wild dancing and fun was had by RS sailors from all the classes until well past bedtime.

A very welcome solid 10-12 knot breeze from the South West greeted the fleet on Sunday morning with the forecast for it to freshen as the day went on.  With wind against tide this had the potential to turn into an epic.  And so it turned out, with the race course becoming increasingly bumpy as the wind built and the ebb tide strengthened.

With crews finally getting the chance to stretch their legs, Pete Barton and Chris Feibusch relished the more challenging conditions and with slightly fewer wobbles than anyone else took the race win, keeping their chance of retaining their title alive.  With the race course getting lumpier and the breeze building Pete and Chris repeated their performance of the previous race crossing the line first followed by the Jeffries and Jack Hawkins / Rory Hunter.  However….it was several minutes later that the slow realisation dawned that only half the fleet had finished with everyone else carrying on for another round.  A quick check on the committee revealed that, yup, the Race Officer had indeed snuck on an extra lap prior to race two.  With a potential race win gone begging, this schoolboy error effectively ended Pete and Chris’s the chance of retaining their title.  The slightly more observant team of Tim Saxton and Fiona Hampshire had taken note of the number of laps and took full advantage by winning the race.

Things were becoming increasing gnarly now and it was Jack and Rory, showing impressive boat handling skills given the amount of time they’ve had in the boat, in demanding conditions to take their second race win of the weekend in race 5.

By the fourth race of the day (race 6) it was pretty epic out in the Solent’s Western reaches with a nasty steep chop ready to catch the teams out at every manoeuvre, especially as fatigue was starting to set in. The Jeffries rounded the windward mark in the lead as the whole fleet sailed into the lee of an off-course Wightlink ferry frantically trying to reverse its way off the race course.  One by one the boats popped out of the wind shadow and screamed off downwind.  The fast, but forgiving RS800 was made for this stuff as the boats were fully launched and bouncing from wave crest to wave crest.  With Ally ‘The Machine’ at the front, the Jeffries laugh in the face of this stuff and held on to take the final race win with Pete and Chris in hot pursuit.  With a few crash and burns behind there was a big gap to third placed Jack Hawkins and Rory Hunter, but they’d done enough to win their first RS800 event and the title of Southern Champions. Massive congratulations to them. I’m sure it won’t be their last.  Second overall went to the Andy and Ally Jeffries with Pete Barton and Chris Feibusch on the bottom (naughty) step of the podium in third.

Yet another classic RS800 event with 5 race winners in 6 races and some welcome new faces in the mix.

Huge thanks to both Lymington Town Sailing Club and Royal Lymington Yacht Club and their army of volunteers for providing first class facilities and highly efficient on-shore boat parking and launch and recovery management and for the excellent race management.  And for the doughnuts…

Also thank you to our sponsors: Magic Marine, Harken and Volvo Cars UK.

Next stop for the RS800s is Garda!!!  Woo hoo!!  We already have 31 entries for the Nationals!  This is turning out to be a great RS800 year! 

By Chris Feibusch

Photos thanks to Sportography.tv

Complete gallery of photos here




RS800 Fleet

Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 12, Scoring system: Appendix A

Rank Sail No Club Helm Name Crew Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Nett  
1st 1163 WPNSA Jack Hawkins Rory Hunter 3 1 6 -7 1 3 21 14  
2nd 1212 Eastbourne SSC Andy Jeffries Allyson Jeffries 6 2 5 -8 2 1 24 16  
3rd 1219 Lymington Town SC Peter Barton Chris Feibusch 8 3 1 (13.0 DNF) 3 2 30 17  
4th 1203 Grafham WSC Tim Saxton Fiona Hampshire 4 8 2 1 4 (13.0 DNC) 32 19  
5th 1220 Royal Lymington YC Luke McEwen Emma McEwen 2 4 3 3 8 (13.0 DNC) 33 20  
6th 1138 RYA Martin Boatman Andrew Brown 5 -7 4 2 5 5 28 21  
7th 1010 Torquay John Warburton James Clapham 1 -12 9 5 6 6 39 27  
8th 1202 Warsash SC Andrew Blundell James Morland 7 6 -10 4 7 4 38 28  
9th 1146 Chichester YC Martin Orton Ian Brooks 10 9 8 6 (13.0 DNF) 13.0 DNC 59 46  
10th 1221 Netley SC James Hughes Toby Wincer 9 11 7 (13.0 DNF) 13.0 DNC 13.0 DNC 66 53  
11th 1145 Stokes Bay SC John Booth Debbi Booth 11 5 12 (13.0 DNC) 13.0 DNC 13.0 DNC 67 54  
12th 1144 Datchet Water SC Daniel Goodman Debbie Robertshaw 12 10 11 (13.0 DNF) 13.0 DNC 13.0 DNC 72 59  
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