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RS300 Gul Grand Prix - Aldenham SC 24th September 2011

Despite an unfavorable wind forecast, the hard work of the locals to clear several tonnes of weed from the lake was rewarded when 11 RS’s congregated for the Aldenham RS300 open this weekend. Much credit to the 3 visitors who made the effort, for those who didn’t, you missed the most well run and welcoming 1 day open you could ever wish for. New format for this year, (5 short races of 30 mins each) was well received and could be the way to go in the future.

So the wind was only Force 1 to 1½, but there was plenty of close action and numerous place changes.

Race 1 - The key to short races must be the start, and true to form a bullet start from Pete Ellis on the first race enabled him to sprint clear on the first lap, closely followed by the gentleman of the fleet, Barry Steel chasing hard, even frightening the young lad on the last beat with a typical Steelesque flyer that only just failed at the finishing post. Mark Riddington showed that sea sailors can cut it on inland waters to take 3rd, with Rich le Mare who found every wind hole and backer on the first beat, pulling through from dog-last to 4th.

Race 2 - Eat your heart out Usain Bolt, Ellis pulled another fast start past the startled Le Mare who was convinced Ellis was over the line. The two of them benefitted from a light first beat which saw Riddington startled and parked on the top mark on port with the rest of the fleet bearing down on him, and managed to pull away from the fleet, only for Le Mare to pinch the lead 100yds from the finish, having benefitted from the only substantial readable shift of the day !!!! Could that be a crucial event – only time will tell? New to the class Duncan Jenkins showed a great improvement from the first race to take 3rd.

Race 3 - With the legendary all inclusive Aldenham cooked lunch beckoning after the third race, the fleet were too keen to contest the start, with Mark Donnelly dragging the ODM with several minutes to go resulting in a re-start. A shift just before the start enabled the Steel and Ellis combo to perfect the Aldenham specialty, the port tack start to great aplomb and charge (if you can charge in a F1) up the first beat. Ellis benefitted from some favorable gusts to pull out a sizeable and eventually successful lead, although Steel was “mugged” on the run to see half the fleet pass him. With Ellis in the distance, the final beat looked comfortable for Le Mare to hold onto 2nd, but Aldenham is not known for shifty conditions for nothing, and Le Mare was himself mugged on the approach to the line, with Steel taking another 2nd, and Steve Sharpe returning to the class with a refurbished boat taking 3rd.

Race 4 - Re-fuelled by Chilli, Le Mare having worked out how important the starts are was almost unstoppable in Race 4, leading from gun to gun, with Jenkins showing good speed again to take 2nd and Ellis 3rd.

Race 5 - With the last race due, and 4 races to count, the prospect of a tie between Ellis and le Mare was on the cards. Much banter ensued … match racing anyone? Le Mare needed to gain his 3rd bullet with Ellis 3rd or worse and the open would be Le Mare’s. Despite a poor start, Le Mare (obviously still affected by the Chilli) charged through the fleet following the Aldenham master on the 2nd beat asking for some “Bazza magic” which did not fail, pulling Le Mare back from mid pack to 2nd at the windward mark. Cheekily after such a genius tactic of following the master Le Mare managed to squeeze inside the Aldenham master for room at the next mark and then went on the to take the gun, with Riddington’s 2nd ahead of Ellis ensured Le Mare won on count-back proving that in any condition heavy weights can make the 300 work. Obviously the wind shift on the last beat of Race 2 was the deciding factor, such small margins !!!. Bazza demonstrating that pond sailing was more to his liking than the open waters at the Nationals, came in 4th to pinch 3rd overall ahead of Riddington.

A fantastic event with a well thought out new format for the class we will look forward to the open in 2012.

Overall Results:



PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st 2 Richard Le Mare Draycote Water SC -4 1 4 1 1 7
2nd 500 Pete Ellis Aldenham SC 1 2 1 -3 3 7
3rd 525 Barry Steel Aldenham SC 2 4 2 -5 4 12
4th 325 Mark Riddington Elmsworth SC 3 -5 5 4 2 14
5th 386 W Duncan Jenkins Aldenham SC -11 3 8 2 6 19
6th 490 Steve Sharpe RAF Sailing Asscn 6 -9 3 8 5 22
7th 374 Dan Skinner Aldenham SC 7 -10 10 6 7 30
8th 526 Mark Donnelly Aldenham SC -8 8 7 7 8 30
9th 530 David Reed Aldenham SC 5 6 9 -12 12 32
10th 386 R John Moore Aldenham SC 9 7 6 -12 12 34
11th 454 Marcus Flint Aldenham SC 10 11 -12 12 12 45