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RS300 Eastern Championships - Aldenham SC 13/14 October 2014

The seven visitors joining six locals contesting the 2014 RS300 Eastern Championships at Aldenham SC were always going to be in for a humorous time being greeted by Tommy Cooper at their arrival (guess who is behind the mask). A good sense of humour is also a pre-requisite for sailing at Aldenham when a lead is never a lead until you have actually finished ahead of your opponent - especially with a North-Easterly forecast to veer easterly throughout the weekend.

The PRO had obviously been taking cunning lessons from the Professor of Cunning at Oxford University and countered the variable wind direction by setting two windward legs 45 degrees apart that crossed in the centre of the lake to cover all eventualities.

Despite a significantly starboard biased start line, Tommy Cooper took his favourite spot on port tack at the pin end (a clue to his identity) and managed to duck the entire fleet without bearing away! Meanwhile at the business end, the Hykeham duo of Salt 'n' Pepper (Steve Sallis and Luke Pepper) streaked away, but being unsure of the course let the pack close up.

Following many place changes, new to the 300 fleet Nick Charles, (but with a great RS pedigree) pulled away for a deserved win. Salt 'n' Pepper taking the next places. Furthest traveller Ian Hopkins from Southport, having experienced getting lost on the way to Aldenham, managed to get lost on the course and retired - an auspicious start at his first 300 tour event. Also new to the fleet, Rich Ellis, older bro of Pete (and obviously always second in the race to the pies) showed good mastery of this tricky boat in tricky conditions at the first attempt - could he be tempted to try again?

With the wind veering and slightly increasing, the race team saved time by setting the committee boat on the other side of the pin end. This totally threw Tommy Cooper so much that he capsized at the start. More wind really took the fancy of Pete Ellis who scampered away for a couple of laps before eventually been caught by the impressive Charles for his second bullet and Pepper cementing second on the penultimate leg.

Race 3 turned out to be Groundhog Day - while six foolish 300s battled fiercely for second place Charles did a devastating horizon job to end the day with three bullets. Again the Hykeham condiment set followed but, it has to be said, a considerable distance behind.

Evening entertainment commenced with a mass take-away curry and trip to the local boozer to experience what looked like a clash between a Star Wars convention and an over-sixties singles night. 

Sunday dawned with much the same wind direction as before if a tad more urgency in the strength. Again Charles pulled away whilst the pack bickered over the minor places! But this time Pepper was alert and chased Charles all the way during a race long titanic battle with Pepper only confirming his first bullet when Nick crashed and burned on the penultimate run.

Race 5, with some of the back markers just having had enough of the variable wind strength and direction bailing out early - Charles slipped up again taking turns at the first mark letting Duncan Jenkins to lead the pack into the distance. Pepper overhauled Jenkins to take his second bullet but only just holding off a storming chase from Harry McVicar, who pulled up from last to second in three laps - at last the defending champion had woken up.

This left Charles and Pepper to shoot out for the win in the final race with the best conditions of the day. Nick showing his team racing pedigree basically polished off Pepper's chances at the start with some match racing tactics for a well deserved Eastern Championships win, Luke enhancing his light wind reputation second and Harry snatching third having won the last race.

Next up for the 300 fleet – Inlands at Grafham on the 11/12 October – the final season long Grand Prix event, with the top places still up for grabs.

So how do you win an area championship? - Just like that!

P.S. The RS300 fleet is very proud of their very own Tommy Cooper aka Barry Steel. And yes he does actually do the marvellous Tommy Cooper hand wobble and actually say "just like that".

Overall Results:



OverallSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1 384 Nick Charles Datchet SC 1 1 1 2 3 2 7
2 518 Luke Pepper Hykeham SC 3 2 2 1 1 5 9
3 523 Harry McVicar Aldenham SC 4 6 4 4 2 1 15
4 476 Steve Sallis Hykeham SC 2 4 3 3 6 3 15
5 500 Pete Ellis Aldenham SC 5 3 6 5 4 DNS 23
6 454 Duncan Jenkins Aldenham SC 6 5 5 6 5 4 25
7 417 Dan Treloar Aldenham SC 9 7 8 9 7 6 37
8 525 Barry Steel Aldenham SC 7 10 7 11 RET DNS 47
9 422 Alastair Wood Bough Beech SC 10 11 9 7 10 DNS 47
10 342 Ian Hopkins Southport SC RET 9 11 8 9 DNS 51
11 526 Richard Ellis Gurnard SC 8 8 10 DNS DNS DNS 54
12 386 John Moore Datchet RET DNS DNS 10 8 DNS 60
13 440 Jonathan Osgood Aldenham SC 11 12 12 RET DNS DNS 62