The GUL RS Racing Circuit hit Torbay in a big way on 16-17 June with three courses spread across the bay. The RS200s and 600s launched from Paignton Beach with Paignton SC running their course. The RS300s, 400s and 800s launched off Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay and the Royal Torbay YC managed their two courses. With the sunshine and fresh breezes of Sunday the boats were a spectacular sight downwind from the shore with multi coloured spinnakers everywhere in the bay.
The weather was some of the most varied imaginable. As the fleets rigged on Saturday morning there was a steady moderate breeze from the north-west. As the fleets launched this wind started to drop and it soon became apparent that something big was brewing to the south of Brixham. As thunder started to rumble under very large, very nasty and very wet looking black clouds, the fleets prepared for a huge downpour. Luckily the clouds took one look at Paignton and rumbled off out to sea causing mayhem with the wind in the process.
Race Officers Ken Falcon, John Haslam and Peter Rumbelow then spent over an hour moving the windward marks round every compass point as the wind continually shifted. Eventually the wind settled down around a mean direction of north-west around a Force 3-4. There were though some big slants and patchs in the wind, which gave some snakes and ladders racing.
Sunday was a lot kinder, the wind stayed in the north-west all day, built slowly so that full on racing took place in Force 4-5 under generally blue skies and plenty of sunshine. It was a blistering good day and many very tired but happy bunnies left after prizegivings at 1600.
A total of 36 RS400s enjoyed the cracking conditions in Torquay with some great action downwind, plenty of incident, quite a bit of swimming, top notch competition and even sunshine to finish in. With no tide and Race Officer Peter Rumbelow setting good start lines There was only one black flag start with no one disqualified OCS yet it was full on the start lines.
Roger Gilbert and James Stewart won the event but the fleet and their own mistakes made life very difficult for them. Gilbert had race one well and truly under control, even managed to notice that the race had been shortened by a round but then went to finish on the wrong side of the Committee Boat, had to drop the kite rapidly and beat back to the other side of the Committee Boat to the finish, just beating Chris Jennings by half a boat length.
Race two was dominated by Mark Needler and Richard Brown who were clear at mid point, Gilbert was second.
In race three, Gilbert and Craig Burlton/Andy Bonsey broke well clear with David Shiel/Paul Heath and Phil Jackson/Gerard Barron equally secure in third/fourth. Gilbert and Shielsy won the respective match races.
Sunday was a really memorable day for 400s; such is the depth in 400s that many boats featured at the front, while a small mistake saw many boats shoot through.
Race four saw the port lay line heavily favoured, the Green brothers led the port charge. Those that went right on the first run gained massive ground. Eventually David Giles/Jarard Halligan kept the boat upright long enough in a race to win with the Fulford brothers from Aldeburgh second and the McQueens third. Gilbert finished seventh.
In race five Gilbert had to do a 720 degree turn half way up the first beat and blew the first run big time rounding the first leeward mark with only two boats behind him. At this point their dominant position of Saturday night was collapsing. Up front Chris Jennings and Pete Vincent/Pete Cruickshank were swapping the lead with Craig Burlton and Jason Pyke in close company. A round later Gilbert was up to seventh and completed a remarkable recovery to grab third at the death behind Jennings and Burlton.
It needed Gilbert and Stewart to have a tragic result in the final race and either Needler or Burlton to win to prevent a Gilbert victory. Needler produced another fi