Craig Burlton has won the RS Vareo national championship with four straight race wins

The 2002 national championship for the RS Vareo took place on 11-12 August at Draycote Water Sailing Club. The Vareo, a hiking boat with asymmetric spinnaker that is capable of being sailed two-up and raced singlehanded, was launched last year and is proving a popular choice for both recreational sailing and racing.

A Force 1 on Saturday increased fairly steadily to Force 4 on Sunday afternoon, providing opportunities for competitors across their weight range (67kg to around 95kg).

A simple windward/leeward course with a gate for the windward leg was used on Saturday; boats on the leeward leg were not permitted through the gate. For the first race at 1300 the wind proved elusive, both in strength and direction. Eventually a course was set and, after a general recall, the first race got underway. After the first leg the wind faded and then, with spinnakers set in anticipation, the wind reappeared again but shifted about 120 degrees.

Charlie ‘Dave’ Merchant and Graham Cooper both spotted a significant bias at the start of the second race and managed to port tack the rest of the fleet. However, Cooper then managed to go from second place at the first mark to 16th at the finish. The Vareo class representative, Antoine Vincent, had more bad luck than most during the event: his main halyard snapped during the third race and his clew tie-down disappeared during the final race.

The shifting winds on Saturday often resulted in starboard bias and, coupled with the gate ban, many runs were rather processional. So on Sunday the OOD kindly agreed the competitors’ request to remove the ban on the gate, allowing more tactical racing. Most competitors had managed to stay dry so far, but the wind provided a good test of overall ability by peaking at Force 4 during the final race and there were numerous capsizes.

Craig Burlton was impressive, winning the first four races and the championship. He was presented with the trophy provided by Purple Sails and Marine. Luke Fisher’s results improved throughout the event, culminating in wins for the final two races and a well deserved second place overall.

Draycote provided a great venue and smooth race management for the event, complimenting the friendly atmosphere that existed amongst the competitors all weekend. For some it was the first time that they had raced against other Vareos and many lessons were learnt, evident by the enthusiastic discussions that took place in the bar after Saturday’s racing.