Ian Marshall wins light, shifty championship in Torbay 12/9/07

Royal Torbay Yacht Club in picturesque Torquay welcomed 34 RS600 for their 2007 national championship over the 6-9 September. Warm sunshine and a light shifting breeze greeted competitors, conditions which continued through the event providing some testing and tactical racing.

Race 1 saw a steady 8 knot north-easterly for three laps of the ‘triangle-sausage’ course laid in the middle of Torbay. Up the first beat those starting near the pin end and sailing out to the far left of the course were to benefit from a lift towards to the shore and a tidal lee-bow on approaching the mark. This saw Mark Duckworth round first, closely followed by James Sainsbury, Christian Reynolds and John Charles. Down the runs, the fleet compressed leading to a close rounding at the leeward mark. The leading pack again chose the left side with several place being exchanged around the subsequent laps giving Reynolds the win closely followed by Sainsbury and Olly Straker in third.

With the breeze oscillating, there was a lengthy delay to the start of race 2 in order to set a square line. After two general recalls as the fleet tried to take advantage of the starboard biased line, the fleet got away under ‘I’ flag in an ever decreasing breeze. Now wise to the gains to be made, much of the fleet headed out to the left of the beat and were rewarded by finding slightly greater pressure.
As the wind dropped further the shorten course was a relief to most with Jamie Mawson first, Ian Marshall second and Jon Powell third.

Hopes for more breeze failed to materialise as race 3 got under way in marginal trapezing conditions around a square course. In the light winds, the importance of getting clear air at the start became obvious as those on the back row were seen struggling. Sainsbury displayed some brave pre-start manoeuvres to gain prime position on the line. The tricky conditions saw a large split across the fleet with Reynolds, Mawson and Sainsbury leading the front pack of eight boats over the finish.

Race 4 saw the best breeze of the event allowing everyone to stretch their legs and flat-wire upwind. The developing sea breeze swung the direction around to the southeast and made the right side of the beat more favoured. Marshall took first with Simon Bennett from the silver fleet in second and Reynolds in third.

Between races 4 and 5, the fleet were joined by some locals- a pod of dolphins who jumped, played and generally showed off around the boats for some 20 minutes, obviously not disturbed by our presence.

Race 5 again saw the breeze drop and swing back to the north giving some tricky tactical decisions and mixed results. Marshall again showed his prowess in the light to lead from David Goudie and Bennett.

The third day a later start gave the hope for the sea breeze to become established however, the wind in the race area remained disappointing. Following several shortened courses over the previous days’ racing the beat was made shorter in order to complete two laps within the time limit.

Again the breeze was insufficient to trapeze comfortably with many choosing to hook on and get in front of the wings, not the easiest of positions! Marshall again showed the way ahead of Paul Proctor and a consistent Mawson in race 6.
For race 7, two boats fell foul of the ‘I’ flag and were scored OCS. Reynolds taking first in front of Marshall and Proctor with Richard Mayo of the silver fleet in fourth.
The final race of the day saw a general recall, and restart under black flag. During the first lap the breeze dropped still further. At the shortened course finish, Andy Heissig led from Marshall and Proctor.

Overnight the clear blue skies of the previous three days had been replaced by overcast conditions for the final day. With a fitful northerly breeze of no more than a couple of knots and large patches of calm in the bay an hours postponement was called. By midday it became clear that there was little chance of setting a descent course or having the 4 knots required to start a race so racing was abandoned.

With the fourth day’s racing lost the weather, Ian Marshall retained his position to take the 2007 Nationals title, having competed in 12 of the 14 RS600 national championships. Last years holder, Christian Reynolds took second with Jamie Mawson third.