United Kingdom

29/04/2001
Oxford SC

  • Fab new RS300 at 2016 Dinghy Show
RS300s at Oxford SC 28/29 April 2001 The combination of a training day and open meeting on consecutive days proved popular with RS300 sailors, 18 boats participating over the full weekend hosted by Oxford SC. On the Saturday, sailors attending the training event arrived to find Farmoor Reservoir looking particularly uninviting with a very strong, gusty breeze and squally showers. But after a theory session, all bar one boat which was brand new, were encouraged onto the water by coaches Will Gulliver and Matt “Bilko” Sargent. With a good proportion of the sailors being in their first six months in the boat this would be a testing exercise for them, and so it proved with even some of the more experienced among them finding the gusty and shifty breeze hard work. That said, most, perhaps all, came ashore feeling more confident with the boat in what were marginal conditions. For the afternoon session, the wind abated just long enough to tempt a few with reserves of energy onto the water. And then it really blew. After 30 minutes the coaches were rounding up sailors and pointing them shoreward in a squall perhaps in excess of 35 knots. All made it back…somehow! It is testament to the durability of these boats that not a single boat sustained damage (well, not afloat anyway). For the open meeting on Sunday, Farmoor presented an altogether different set of weather conditions, but just as testing in its own way. Race one took place in a moderately shifty force three to four. With master of startline mayhem Marc Sollars (Burghfield SC) in full action, it was perhaps no surprise that the first start became a general recall. At the second start, Sollars managed to squeeze a handful of boats out at the Committee Boat end but found himself over the line at the gun and having to return. A past Touring Trophy Winner, Marc was to have a disappointing return to the circuit. Meantime, Will Gulliver (Oxford SC) and Matt Sargent (Royal Artillery YC) were away and rounded the windward mark in 1st and 2nd places, despite choosing perhaps the less favoured side of the first beat. These two moved away from the body of the fleet and had a tough battle, exchanging places mid-way through the race with Sargent holding onto the advantage through to the finish. Matt Critchley (Stokes Bay SC), an experienced 400/800 helm, has quickly taken to the RS300 and made his presence felt with a comfortable third place whilst Steve Middleton (Burghfield SC) managed to steal fourth place from the fast improving Graham Sanderson (Nomad). Race two and Sanderson was off the line like a rocket. But it was Barry “the Master” Steel (Aldenham SC) who, tacking to clear his air, was the lone boat to tack out to the starboard side of the course where he found a shift much to his liking. It took him into the windward mark with a very handsome lead, perhaps a third of a leg clear. But the breeze during this race was slowly failing, becoming patchy and very shifty, playing snakes and ladders with the fleet. Again, Gulliver and Sargent, playing the percentages, eventually worked their way through and Steel’s challenge for first place faded to a nonetheless well deserved third place. Gulliver this time took the winning gun from Sargent to set up a third race match for overall victory. Steven Cook of Hill Head SC, a sailor who is quietly improving all the time, took fourth place. The final race was beginning to look fraught with dangerous possibilities for both Sargent and Gulliver. The sun was now beating down and the wind had become very light, patchy and was doing occasional circuits of the compass. The fleet crept out of their starting blocks and there quickly followed a significant heading shift whereupon the fleet one by one tacked onto port. A group of boats – Critchley, Middleton, Gulliver, and Sargent – made relatively rapid progress out to the starboard side of the course, and wham! In came a huge shift that put each of them immediately onto the starboard tack layline. Those boats who had played conservative in the middle were at once condemned to struggle to get to the windward mark while these four formed the leading group. As the wind consistently puffed and died, places changed and Middleton took the lead from Critchley at the start of the second beat, only to see Gulliver snatch it away through superior wind spotting. Gulliver moved into a relatively safe lead and, as the wind died again, Sargent sailed over Middleton and commandeered second place. Then, on the final run the breeze filled in and brought the mid fleet on a charge led by that man Steel who so very nearly stole third place from Middleton. So, the coaches for Saturday, Will Gulliver and Matt Sargent, did their credibility no harm at all by taking first and second overall with quite dominant performances, and so ended a very successful weekend for the class. 1st Will Gulliver (Oxford SC) 2nd Matt Sargent (Royal Artillery YC) 3rd Steve Middleton (Burghfield SC) 4th Barry Steel (Aldenham SC) 5th Matt Critchley (Stokes Bay SC)
full set of results not available
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