RS Aero Long Distance Racing11/10/2023 13:12:00
RS Aero Long Distance Racing
Variety in our racing is always fun and the racing challenge of actually going somewhere provides an interesting alternative to racing around short laps...
Inspired by our long distance race through the Columbia River Gorge at our 2022 RS Aeo World Championship Paul Halliwell set out to do a couple more UK Classics in 2023. Congratulations to Paul on achieving an awesome 5th place overall, 2nd monohull and 1st single hander in the Round Sheppey UK long distance race classic and thanks to Paul for his summary here...
Round The Isle of Sheppey Race - Sheppey SC, UK, 3rd Sept
I was the only RS Aero in the Round The Isle of Sheppey race - I'm sharing my experience as it is such a cracking event that some of you might want to mark it in your calendar for September 2024 now.
The course is a clockwise lap of the island which nestles on the southern side of the Thames Estuary, just east of London. We had a building wind out of the east and around the outside of the island there was a choice between more pressure offshore in the coming sea breeze or keeping in out of the tide. Fortunately the former paid and it is always nice to overtake a Musto Skiff!.
As we reached the end of the island we left the open sea and entered the estuary for a 15km breezy reach. Things were just about calm enough to catch a glimpse of the many seals that come to investigate and to remember to keep in the current. The race start is timed so through the channel on the back of the island the flood is under you. Much faster I found not to take the shortest route over the mud - walking is slow, dirty and undignified - and then you get to the legendary "capsize under the bridge and walk your boat through" section of the course. The GPS tracking kindly split this segment out and I was most pleased to be fastest boat there - although I suspect that an RS Aero is an easier job than a Nacra despite the many helpful and willing hands the club provides.
Final sections were a beat up through the port, avoiding the Richard Montgomery sunken ship full of WWII explosives (worth a web search if you haven't heard of it) then a reach to the finish. Elapsed time 4 hours 50 mins. 2nd monohull and 1st single hander.
The event is really excellently organised by a club who really go out of their way to make sure that the race is a good experience for all - I'd very much recommend it.
I was inspired by the "Long Distance Race" at the 2022 RS Aero Worlds at the Columbia River Gorge USA, so I've been looking out for races that were a bit different since. I can also recommend the Anglesey Offshore Dinghy Race in which I was also only RS Aero. The course was slightly shorter from Beaumaris to Moelfre this year held in what might best be described as pretty punchy wind conditions. Other UK races include Ullswater's Lord Birkett and the Lake Bala race, to name but a few.