Schooling/Hirst win GUL RS800 Winter Championships

Ben Schooling and Tim Hirst clinched their first RS800 event win by a point from Olive and Crabb with Barton and Allen third. An impressive 39 boats turned out with many new faces in the fleet showing great promise for a Garda year. The long awaited first event of the 2008 season was hosted by Chew Valley Sailing Club on 7/8th March with the forecast promising some fresh south-westerly breeze.

The wind looked to be dying off following some squally showers during the briefing but it soon piped up for the first start and was gusting 20kts by the time the class flag fell. First to round the windward mark were Ben Schooling and Tim Hirst in their new boat (1121) closely followed by Pete Barton and Roz Allen (1016) – great to see the dream team re-united and Roz back on the circuit following her time out injured for most of last year.

Some small issues with hoists saw Schooling/Hirst drop back as Barton/Allen pulled out a lead by the start of the second beat. RS700 sailor Tom Offer and Rob Higgins (1009) from the home club showed great pace and local knowledge to pull through to second on the next run and the positions remained the same to the finish.

Race two got underway after a short break – some of the crews taking full advantage of the close proximity of the clubhouse to warm up and grab a drink. Off the line it was Ian Martin and Adam Broughton in Kingfisher Yacht Ropes (800) who showed their big breeze form to lead round the windward mark from Barton/Allen and Spod Olive Joe Crabb in Harken (1083).

The gusty conditions were making lay-line calls pretty tricky and saw many teams drop their spinnakers early and white sail reach into the leeward mark. A few early season handling errors by the top three boats saw Schooling/Hirst capitalise and take their first open meeting race win from Martin/Broughton and Olive/Crabb at the finish with Matt and Mike Chapman (1014) in 4th.

By the third race, the committee boat was recording 30mph in the gusts and boat handling became a key component of the day. After a two lap, two horse tussle it was Schooling/Hirst who recorded their second bullet. Martin/Broughton were a fair distance back in 2nd following a capsize and Offer/Higgins showed good consistency to finish 3rd. Chris Webber and Bonnie Moody handled the breeze well to round out the top 4.

Sunday dawned with a tricky 12 to 15 knot wind. Race 4 got underway in brilliant sunshine but menacing rain clouds on the horizon – anything could happen!! With the start line just in front of the club and the westerly wind direction, the windward mark was tucked in close to the opposite shore. A quick entry/exit to the mark was therefore crucial to not lose places.

Olive/Crabb sailed a good first beat and managed to pull out a convincing lead by the end of the first run which they held to the finish. With the gusts filtering down the shore an early gybe strategy was working well for a few boats including recent RS400 converts Tom Halhead and Christian Humphrey (1113) who sailed well to take 2nd on the last run from Neil Baker and James ‘Uzi’ Hughes (1130).

Race 5 and the breeze had increased slightly but there were still a few single wiring holes to be found! Barton/Allen were first around the windward followed closely by Olive/Crabb who had a good battle until the finish, however the positions remained the same at the finish. David and Fiona Sayce (985) pulled some clever tactics out the bag to get inside Schooling/Hirst up the last beat to finish 3rd and 4th respectively.

In the final race of the day it was Olive/Crabb who again demonstrated good skill in the tough conditions. A close battle for 2nd to 5th ensued with Barton/Allen, Schooling/Hirst, Martin/Broughton and the Chapman brothers all in the mix. At the finish Schooling/Hirst managed to pull through to 2nd and the Chapmans capitalised on the Martin – Barton duel.

Following some confusion over the final results, it became apparent that Schooling/Hirst had clinched their first RS800 event win by a point from Olive/Crabb with Barton/Allen 3rd, Martin/Broughton 4th and Offer/Higgins in 5th – also winners of the Silver fleet.

Second in the Silver fleet and 6th place overall went to the Chapman brothers with Ian ‘Basta’ Aldridge and Aaron Barden taking 3rd in the Silver and 7th overall.

Thank you to Chew Valley Sailing Club for running a great event. The next event is at Datchet Water Sailing Club on the 5/6 April – see you there for another massive turnout!

RS800 - Final positions

1st 1121 Ben Schooling Tim Hirst Datchet 3 1 1 -4 4 2 15 11 pts
2nd 1083 Spod Olive Joe Crabb Stokes Bay 5 3 -6 1 2 1 18 12 pts
3rd 1016 Pete Barton Roz Allen Royal Lymington 1 -6 5 5 1 5 23 17 pts
4th 800 Ian Martin Adam Broughton Portishead 4 2 2 (40.0 DNF) 11 4 63 23 pts
5th 1009 Tom Offer Rob Higgins Chew Valley Lake S C 2 5 3 11 5 (40.0 OCS) 66 26 pts
6th 1014 Matt Chapman Mike Chapman Chew Valley Lake S C 7 4 -11 6 8 3 39 28 pts
7th 0 Ian Aldridge Aaron Barden 8 8 7 12 -13 8 56 43 pts
8th 985 David Sayce Fiona Saycle Hayling Island S C 12 14 (40.0 DNF) 9 3 6 84 44 pts
9th 1112 Raph Singleton Ollie Singleton Chew Valley Lake S C -21 12 9 8 7 13 70 49 pts
10th 1079 Simon Skinner Jo Skinner O C S C 9 11 8 -14 14 9 65 51 pts
11th 1114 Tom Halhead Christian Humphrey Bristol Corinthian 17 -19 15 2 10 11 74 55 pts
12th 1132 Mick Whitmore Sarah Smith Eastbourne Sovereign 11 9 (40.0 DNF) 13 12 10 95 55 pts
13th 1134 Jamie Stevenson Jamie Oaten Royal Torbay Y C 10 10 17 -20 16 19 92 72 pts
14th 857 David Steed Tom Pickles 13 15 (40.0 DNF) 7 21 17 113 73 pts
15th 923x Chris Webber Bonnie Moody (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 4 15 9 7 115 75 pts
16th 991 Malcolm Streeton Miles Roebuck Hayling Island S C 19 13 12 -21 19 20 104 83 pts
17th 1084 Peter Clapton Thomas Clapton Chew Valley Lake S C -18 16 16 17 18 16 101 83 pts
18th 1130 Neil Baker James Hughes Hayling Island S C 6 7 (40.0 DNF) 3 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 136 96 pts
19th 916 James Jaffa David Roberts Royal Torbay Y C 24 (40.0 DNF) 10 23 22 22 141 101 pts
20th 983 Ant Harvey Mike Stone Mumbles 22 20 14 (40.0 DNF) 24 21 141 101 pts
21st 89 David Pike Claire Booth Eastbourne Sovereign 14 (40.0 DNF) 13 16 20 40.0 DNF 143 103 pts
22nd 1047 Si Grundy James Holmes Royal Corinthian Y C 23 21 18 27 (40.0 DNF) 18 147 107 pts
23rd 923 Giles Bradford Sophie Sutcliffe RNSA (40.0 DNF) 18 19 24 25 24 150 110 pts
24th 921 Russ Gibbs Anna Perkins Starcross Y C 25 (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 10 23 15 153 113 pts
25th 1043 Ian Collis-Smith Alex Knight Chew Valley Lake S C 16 (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 OCS 6 14 156 116 pts
26th 1062 Andy Scott Derian Scott Chew Valley Lake S C 26 22 (40.0 DNF) 25 29 25 167 127 pts
27th 1124 Dan Azzopardi Dan Perry 20 17 (40.0 DNF) 30 26 40.0 DNF 173 133 pts
28th 1127 Derek Buchanan Elaine Buchanan Oxford S C (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 18 40.0 DNF 12 190 150 pts
29th 1010 Chris Bailey Matt Bailey Draycote (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 31 28 23 202 162 pts
30th 1015 Andy Howard Daniel Milosevic Llandegfedd (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 28 15 40.0 DNF 203 163 pts
31st 1012 Joe Joyner Hannah Jones Chew Valley Lake S C (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 26 17 40.0 DNF 203 163 pts
32nd 1083x Jane Olive Dan Olive Stokes Bay (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 19 27 40.0 DNF 206 166 pts
33rd 1133 Ollie Page Ros Hopper Lancing 15 (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 215 175 pts
34th 888 Sam Goodchild David Bickerton Oxford S C (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 29 30 40.0 DNF 219 179 pts
35th 815 Sam Ferens Ioan Lavery Margam (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 22 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 222 182 pts
36th 1129 Nicholas Hand Camilla Lofts Chew Valley Lake S C (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 32 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 232 192 pts
37th 1013 Steve Birbeck Tom Birbeck Royal Torbay Y C (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 240 200 pts
37th 1011 Alex Cherry John Clifton (40.0 DNF) 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 40.0 DNF 240