Sixteen RS 200s made their way to St Mawes for the third round of the RS 200 South West “Ugly” Tour sponsored by West Country Boat Repairs.
Merrick and Victoria, winners of the first event of the tour came up against locals, and winners of the second event, Henry and Ashley.
Over seven races held throughout the weekend of 21st and 22nd May, conditions could not have been more perfect - glorious sunshine and a nice steady sea breeze much to the relief of Race Officer Nigel Sharp.
On Saturday a strong tide was running. Initially the breeze was light but quickly increased to something quite strong. This turned the downwind legs into a nail biting experience, with some boats planing and others soaking low, to try to catch the waves.
The first race saw Ed Harris and Archie Goodhead working their boat hard on the upwind and powering through the chop to sneak in just ahead of Henry and Ashley at the top mark. The pair worked hard and maintained the lead all the way to the finish. The next race saw stronger winds and an even stronger tide. An eager fleet at the second start forced race officer Nigel Sharp to display the U-Flag. The second race saw Merrick and Victoria take the lead at mark one with Henry and Ashley hot on their heels, but a superb hoist from Ashley allowed the Cornish duo to hot the boat up onto the plane and speed over the top of Merrick/ Victoria. From then on, the Cornish pair planed down the course with a comfortable lead. Behind them in the fleet jostling ensued with many boats sneaking in at the top mark on port leading to many place changes on the downwind leg. In a battle for the line, Parkstone pair Duncan / Lorna took 2nd place from Merrick / Victoria.
The final race of the day saw winds easing. Merrick and Victoria pulled through to lead from the start with Duncan and Lorna hot on their heels. Jeremy and Becca Stephens found some brilliant pressure on the downwind and sailed their way into fourth place at the finish.
It was time for a drink and dinner in the club after a tiring day of racing which saw Merrick/ Victoria in pole position after Day 1. A few teams braved camping but luckily they were sufficiently tired out by the days racing, so slept well!
The second day saw lighter winds and beautiful sunshine, showing off the beauty of the Cornish coast! Would James Williams and Rose Hallam be able to break the string of 6th places today (top marks for consistency)?
Race one, day two saw Mason and Emma (proven aggressive and strong starters from day one) take the win. They used their local knowledge to capitalise on a back eddy, and then sought the increased pressure in the compression zone under the headland, sneaky! The boats that followed fought hard for their places, with many place changes on the downwind legs. Henry and Ashley finished 2nd and Duncan / Lorna 3rd, with Rose and James hot on their heels.
For the next race, the tide had turned, and seemingly pot luck decided which side was going to pay. Kyle/ Madeline showed their upwind pace, and several boats took turns to lead, with Henry and Ashley taking the win at the final mark! Jeremy and Becca Stephens found their form, taking second place and James / Rose followed closely (having led the race for a long period)!
For the third race Ed and Archie found what was paying on the course. They led the race from start to finish! A favoured left side upwind made the top mark exciting with port tackers risking it all coming in at the last minute. Duncan and Lorna took second place and Jeremy and Becca came in close behind.
It was all to play for in the final race. A strong start from Alex / Raffi saw them take the lead early on. They led around the top mark and battled hard on the downwind to maintain their lead. Unfortunately for them, Ed and Archie found some brilliant downwind pace and snuck through to take the win at the finish, with Duncan and Lorna taking third and crucially pushing Merrick and Victoria back into fourth.
That concluded the two days of racing. The fleet sailed back in and were met by cake and drinks when they came ashore. What better way to cool off after some hot racing.
A special mention to Andy and William Le Grice: it was their first 200 event and despite some spinnaker issues, they showed some quick upwind pace, we look forward to seeing you again next time!
After seven tight races, with four different winners, the final results were governed by who had the worst discard. Only two points separated the first four boats.
In the end, local sailors Henry and Ashley prevailed winning by one point from Merrick Stanley and Victoria Upton from Llandegffedd with father and daughter combo Duncan and Lorna Glenn from Parkstone in third.
The silver fleet was won by Ed Harris and Archie Goodhead from Chew Valley and the bronze fleet was won by Milly Tregaskes and Taryn Banks from Restronguet.
The weekend had proved one thing: the tide was a key feature. Who knows, perhaps Merrick and Victoria would have won if they had looked at the correct chart, I guess we will have to wait until next year to find out!