The RS Aero summer season kicked of with a vengeance on Saturday with weather warnings as Storm Hannah ravaged the UK. The RS Aero Spring Champs are the start of the Class’ UK Southern Circuit and Round 2 of the Thames Valley Mini Series. It was with some trepidation that the RS Aero’s arrived at Island Barn Reservoir, a raised lake with a nice clear wind (oh dear!), at the western side of London.
In all, 46 sailors had pre-entered, including 5 charter RS Aeros supported by RS Sailing, and to their credit 38 of those ventured out into the storm. With the likelihood of some significant wind during the day the fleet sensibly made use of their option to downsize, saving a good days racing. This produced two good fleets of RS Aero 5s and RS Aero 7s. The RS Aero 9s all remained tightly rolled in their bags - surplus to requirements!
By the start of Race 2 the morning wind peaked with 34kn gusts which provided a challenge for the fleet just to squeak through the start line in good order! Making effective headway upwind against the gale was a new challenge for many young guns - but they learn quickly. The sailors were rewarded with wild rides back downwind. The blast reaches where incredible and the runs bracing - the key being choosing the moment in which to throw a gybe!
A break for lunch saw the fleet fortified by IBRSC’s excellent galley, ready for 3 more ballistic races in the afternoon! The forecasted drop never materialised with gusts peaking at 37kn for most of the afternoon. It was evident that the sailors were becoming hardened to the conditions and techniques that had been a challenge in the morning were dealt with more effectively in the afternoon. Considering the buffeting the fleet were taking it was fabulous to see 12 RS Aeros still out to finish the 5th and final race of the day - and no broken spars to report!
The RS Aero 5s were dominated by Jonathan Bailey (Grafham) and Gareth Griffiths (Island Barn) with two wins apiece. Sammy IJ (Maidenhead) had taken a couple of early 2nds and Ned Stattersfield (Wells) was coming good by the end of the day with a 2,1. Jonathan took the overall win and top Youth title, leaving Gareth to settle for 1st Master in 2nd overall. Completing the podium was top Lady, Lynn Billowes (Warsash), demonstrating the full diversity of the RS Aero 5 fleet. Top Youth Lady was Iona Willows (Dorchester SC) ably taking on the challenge that Storm Hannah had thrown down.
The RS Aero 7s saw Liam Willis (Lymington Town), Peter Barton (Lymington Town) and Tim Hire (Royal Lymington) sharing the wins nicely, with all three tied on 5 points going into the final race! Liam and Peter looked good off the port-biased start. However, starboard was the headed tack and Tim was sailing fast on the opposite side whilst also taking good shifts. He came out clear ahead near the top of the first beat, never to be caught, to take the overall win and top Youth RS Aero 7 title too.
Following Island Barn’s splendid afternoon tea & cake the prize giving included the presentation of the awards from the RS Aero UK Winter Series and Winter Championships, supported by Rooster. A draw for a 50% sail voucher, kindly provided by RS Sailing, was made from the 21 sailors who had qualified in the Winter Series. First out of the hat was Nigel Rolfe, our UK Class Chairman, who despite having stayed home with the prospect of a little breeze was allowed to keep it!
Many thanks to Island Barn RSC for providing the RS Aeros with a huge day out. Eespecially to those volunteers out on the water who took the brunt of Hannah’s ferocity, too help make a memorable day’s sailing possible.Next up
for the RS Aeros is Yorkshire Dales SC this weekend, 4/5th May, in the North followed by the Burghfield SC Sustainability Open in the South on the 11th (charters available!). Full details of all UK events and charter RS Aero opportunities, can be found on the RS Aero UK Events List