The Gul RS700 winter championship took place at Hayling Island last weekennd

The barometer showed 1 degree and that was before the cold northerly wind-chill was taken into account. However, 29 competitors braved the cold and turned up for the first RS700 event of 2003 last weekend at Hayling Island Sailing Club.

Race one started in a Force 4-5 with typical HISC chop. After the long winter lay-up some boat handling skills seem to have been replaced by extra kilos and the name of the game was to stay upright. Local boy Neil Robinson proved best of the bunch to take the victory ahead of another local, Neil Upton-Brown and Jerry Wales from QMSC as the wind eased back at the finish.

Race two got under way promptly by a well oiled race committee and to the relief of competitors. The tide had turned and became a bigger factor now. Local knowledge seemed to pay as Nick Rizzi from the home club began his domination of the remaining races that day. Cleverly sailed and showing good boat speed he took line honours from new 700 sailor Andy Peake from Bough Beech and Neil Upton-Brown showing consistency in third.

Race 3, again smartly away in a shifting breeze. Rizzi did the double mirroring his performance from the previous race with Peake and Belben scoring a dead-heat for second. However, Upton-Brown got blind-sided, slipping to eighth in a tight field allowing Wales and Andy Irons into the top five. Sunday appeared a similar day to Saturday with temperatures barely rising above freezing but a good breeze blowing. Race 4 got underway on time in a Force 2-3 with Peake and Irons leading at the windward mark. Irons was troubled by Wales downwind but did enough to stay ahead until the finish with Rizzi staying in contention with a fourth. The battle was now on between Rizzi and Peake for the overall victory.

Race five saw a different name at the front. Dave Smithwhite from HISC read the first beat best and sailed into the windward mark on a lovely lift in good pressure. The chasing field couldn’t catch him and Belben ended up the best-of-the-rest. Peake recorded a fourth and Rizzi a sixth.

Race six and Peake had it in the bank. This 600 sailor until November last year showed that pure time in the boat over the winter was the best preparation he could have done. The wind was shifting and failing as the race progressed. It was anybody’s race and even local knowledge was of limited use now. The lead swapped several times until, at the ‘death’, Peake put the cherry on the cake to take the bullet with Smithwhite second and Wales third.

Overall Results

1st Andrew Peake

2nd Jason Belben

3rd Nick Rizzi

4th Jerry Wales

5th Neil Upton-Brown