RS 200 SEAS Burghfield Open – Saturday 15th October
Written by Andrew Wishart & Lorna Glen, RS 200 regional reps.
Alongside the RS 400s and 500s, a thirteen-boat fleet of RS 200s stacked with talent gathered at Burghfield sailing club for the penultimate round of the South East Area Series (SEAS). The conditions showed absolutely no respect for the CVs of those assembled, with huge shifts and bands of pressure rolling down the lake constantly reshuffling the pack.
A south westerly breeze which varied between 7 and 22 knots over the course of the day allowed race officer Mark Cooper to set a windward-leeward course extending the full length of the lake. As the largest fleet, the 200s had the privilege of starting first. Fastest out of the blocks was Dave Steed/Chris Martin et al, a team entry in 1728 balancing excellent boat speed with a childcare job share, who escaped from the pack up the first beat and built a substantial lead. What made it even more exceptional was that that Dave hadn’t set foot in a 200 for a decade!
But what the Burghfield gods giveth, they can also take away. Over the course of three laps Ian Martin & Emma Hivey and Steve & Sarah Cockerill were able to work their way into that lead and eventually overhaul Steed et al. It finished Martin/Hivey, the Cockerills, then Steed et al. I’d love to give you more detail, but both your correspondents were scrapping for the minor places. Yours truly was dealing with a capsize and a brief MOB (unbelievably, two completely separate events), while late arrivals Ben Whaley & Lorna Glen fought their way up through the field.
In race 2 a left shift in the final minute of the sequence saw congestion down at the pin. Newly crowned inland champions Whaley/Glen took a previously uncharted route around the left side of the island at the bottom of the beat and benefitted from a clear route to the windward mark to lead the first lap. The Cockerills showed great boat speed to join battle with the leaders at the final windward. But while the leading pair soaked low on the final run, the pressure was building at the top of the course allowing Chris Catt and Emma Norris and Martin/Hivey to get planing and reel in the leader at pace. The boat whisperer was able to deploy his super strength to cling on and finish first, Catt/Norris slipped through into second, and Whaley/Glen held onto third despite briefly embarking on an imaginary third lap.
Easy launching and efficient catering allowed the sailors to come ashore for lunch, and a welcome chance to catch up with friends and clear the mind after a morning battling with Burghfield’s trademark puffs and shifts.
Refreshed, Whaley/Glen followed closely by Martin/Hivey led the way up the first beat of the third race. Marginal planing conditions made the downwind leg tricky, as the crews tried to link up the gusts to stay in high mode. Catt/Norris showed us how that’s done, making huge gains to join the leading pair by the time the leaders made it to the final windward. Martin/Hivey and Catt/Norris split the last run, leaving Whaley/Glen in a tricky middle position. In the end Martin/Hivey took the bullet followed by Whaley/Glen with Catt/Norris third.
The fourth and final race saw significant starboard bias with several boats over the layline to the boat end and forced to start late. Martin/Hivey, Catt/Norris and Steed/Martin et al, now with Chris Martin on the stick, avoided that fate to make good progress up the first beat. Burghfield then provided a rigorous test of the fleet’s ability to change gears, with the wind dropping right off on the final beat. Martin/Hivey excelled in that challenge to win the final race and the event overall, followed by Steed/Martin et al and Catt/Norris.
Ian and Emma’s three bullets from four was no mean feat on such a variable day, and a masterclass in head-out-of-the-boat sailing. The Cockerills proved they are already on the pace in the 200 to finish second overall, with Chris Catt and Emma Norris completing the podium. Not helped by their late arrival, but also testament to the strength of the competition, Ben and Lorna missed out on the podium by a single point to finish fourth.
Burghfield marks the start of a three-course meal of 200 opens in the South East this October. Next Saturday 22nd October the SEAS reaches its climax at Island Barn, where excellent prizes from Rooster are up for grabs for the series winners. Chris & Emma currently lead the series from Nigel/Ian/Andy Bird, but with two events from four to count, its wide open. The series standings are here and entry for Island Barn here.
For dessert, the following Saturday 29th October Frensham Pond holds its open meeting where a good turnout of home boats is guaranteed.
In the photo we have, L-R, Emma Norris, Chris Catt, Emma Hivey, Ian Martin, Sarah Cockerill, Steve Cockerill.