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European Championship

  • Sunshine in Carnac
  • RS800 Europeans, YC Carnac, May 2018
  • RS800 Europeans, YC Carnac, May 2018
  • RS800 Europeans, YC Carnac, May 2018
  • RS800 Europeans, YC Carnac, May 2018

Days 1 & 2

After 2 out of 4 days of racing scheduled for the RS800 European Championship at YC de Carnac, it's still all to play for. There are three previous RS 800 European Champions racing as well as multiple champions from other classes in this highly competitive fleet.

The crews that came out early for an extended holiday have been enjoying sunshine & breeze, exploring the beautiful location on their bikes, frequenting the creperies and tucking into the local Breton cider.

Most teams arrived on Friday and made it on the water for a short sail in light breeze and sunshine with the afternoon sea breeze fighting the NE gradient.

Thunderstorms and torrential rain greeted the fleet on the first day of the Championship so racing was postponed by an hour. Luckily the weather improved and an 8-knot northeasterly settled for the start, then clocked round to east, favouring the right hand side of the first beat and making the rest of the race something of a procession. Luke and Emma McEwen were closely followed by Steve and Sarah Cockerill, with Christina and Andrew taking a well deserved third place at the head of the chasing pack.

After racing the sun came out to dry everyone's kit out nicely and we sat around socialising as the Yacht club welcomed us all with free drinks and tasty snacks.

The day ended with the Exit Bar close to the beach establishing itself as the gathering point for the latter part of the evenings.

Day 2 of racing had a perfect forecast of F3 and sunshine. With a civilised start time of midday, the effects of the night before had time to clear and everyone had a bit more time to relax and settle in to their holidays. The fleet launched at low tide into slightly tricky waves breaking on the beach but all made it out OK.  The first race started on time with Phil & John leading the whole race until the last run where Joe & Will briefly overtook both them and Luke & Emma before falling into a hole in the wind. Luke & Emma managed a sneaky overtake on the tight spinny reach to the finish stealing the first from Phil & John closely followed by Joe & Will.

The second race saw all but Phil & John and Luke & Emma bang the right side of the first beat but it turned out the left paid and Phil & John extended their lead to win by a comfortable margin. Luke & Emma held off Dan & Debbie for second.

The third race again favoured the left but this time it was Jean-Louis and Camille who consistently spotted the gains and came out ahead with Steve & Sarah also sailing a good tactical race to take second. Andy & Alison were right up there but became victims of the abundant seaweed as places changed with the tight racing. Phil & John fought back to third with Dan & Debbie having another good race taking fourth.

It's close on points after four races with many teams yet to show their full potential. The forecast for the final two days looks lighter so anything could happen.

Luke & Emma McEwen

Day 3

As the crews contemplated another light wind day, in the boat park, the Carnac YC race teams headed to the course area, with confidence the SW sea breeze would fill in. Right on time, and as most of the crews were hosting their sails, the breeze swung 180 degrees and a building sea breeze saw the boats twin wire with their spinnakers out to the start line. Carnac is blessed with a very reliable sea breeze and with a clear sky the clouds quickly started to form over the land.

The only question on the sailors’ minds, was the how much would it build and swing right and what was the risk/ benefit reward to sail, to the favoured right, on the first beat, where big clumps of seaweed were more prevalent and risked the dreaded “catch fence” effect around the foils? This was offset by the less favoured left, of the course, which seemed to have hardly any weed, that would leave sailors focusing on speed and shifts, rather than weed slalom.

Race 5 started cleanly in 12-13 knots and the fleet split with the main contenders heading left and a few boats heading right straight out the line. At the top mark, it was right that marginally paid, with Andy Tarboton and Lizzie Shawcroft leading Luke and Emma then Phil and John. By the end of the 2 laps Luke and Emma managed to gybe set their way to the front and narrowly take the win from Andy and Lizzie with Rory Hunter and Chris Feibusch 3rd.

Race 6 saw another clean start in a little more wind, the pin end of the line was favoured Christina and Andrew Handasyde Dick nailed the start and jumped out to the left side of the course, then crossed back on a great shift to lead around the top mark with Phil and John in 2nd and the McEwens buried in the fleet, Phil and John seized their opportunity to get some points back and set about gaining the lead, which they held to the finish. Christina and Andrew showed that they are quickly getting to grips with the 800 and demonstrated some great speed to hang on to 2nd with the fast-catching Luke and Emma just squeezing past Andy and Allyson Jeffries at the last Leeward mark for 3rd.

Race 7 saw the fleet have their first general recall, of the week, as the wind started to shift right and the boat end of the line became crowded. A quick reset of the pin saw the fleet start on a black flag. With a clean start, the boats were off in the best breeze of the day with gusts at around 15 knots. The once white fluffy clouds, over the mainland, were now starting to grow into menacing black thunder storms and the breeze on the right side of the course was increasing. It was a crowded top mark with the Cockerills and local heros Gilles Peeters and Mateo Lavauzelle leading the fleet around. With the wind stronger down the left side of the run, the boats that gybe early, gained which lead to a big compression in the fleet at the leeward mark, as the fleet rounded line astern, boats were forced off on port tack, to clear their air and get a lane. This left Gilles and Matteo, and Andy and Allyson heading for the right side of the course and more wind. As the 2 boats tacked, it would be a case of who had judged the lay-line perfectly, this turned out to be Andy and Allyson who came in at pace from the ever-increasing favoured side. The only other drama came when a local fishing boat decided to join the fleet on the reaching leg from the windward mark, causing a few stressful moments and the odd “stress test” for the married teams! At the finish the Jeffries held off the Cockrills with Rory and Chris narrowly beating the locals for 3rd.

I think it was fair to say, the 800’s had the best racing of the season so far, today; the sun was out, the breeze was prefect and the atmosphere ashore was full of fun, enthusiasm and banter. We also had some of the best race management that most of the fleet could remember and based on the experience of some of the sailors, that is some compliment to the team at YC Carnac.  

Day 4

Unfortunately, the last day proved a frustrating affair, for both the race team and the sailors but very sensibly the race team sent the fleet ashore, as the wind very slowly tracked right from NE to SW, as the day wore on.

So the final scores saw Luke and Emma McEwen, yet again, lift the European Championship trophy; they had seen off a competitive fleet, to show themselves to be worthy champions. Luke, very impressively, conducted his winner’s speech in French and thanked the whole of the YC Carnac team as well as Heather Chipperfield for her fantastic organisation. Phil Walker and John Mather gave them a good run for their money in their new boat, and Steve and Sarah Cockrill proved that years of non-skiff sailing is no barrier to a good result, if you have the racing talent they possess.

The RS800 fleet had a great time in Carnac and look forward to the RS Games, in August, where the battle will recommence.  Can anyone beat the McEwens? Stay tuned to find out.

 Andy Jeffries

Final Results, and photos by Christian Chandon, Christophe Le Bohec andPhilippe Vigla are HERE.

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