Matt Sargent wins close battle at Gul Winter Champs at Bristol Corinthian 15/2/07

Bristol Corinthian YC hosted the 2007 RS300 Gul Winter Championship on 10-11 February. Adverse weather conditions further north put some competitors off but those that braved the conditions, including competitors from as far afield as Yorkshire, were rewarded with a great weekend’s racing.

With five races spread over the two days and a range of wind strengths there was something for everyone. Not surprising, then, that the final results were extremely close – but no-one predicted that this would be the closest 300 championship on record with the top 2 boats ending up with identical scores.

Race 1 in a Force 2 easterly and Matt Sargent led from start to (nearly) finish. A navigational error at the final mark allowed Steve Bolland from the home club through to victory with Matt 2nd and Tim Keen in 3rd.

Keen continued his good form in race two. Although Bolland led at the first mark both Keen and Sargent came though on the first broad reach. Keen extended his lead as the wind lightened and despite heading for the finish a lap early he held on to win form Sargent and Bolland.

As the wind dropped further and swung to the South, Bolland led from start to finish in race 3, followed home by Keen and Sargent.

At the end of day 1 it was Bolland on five points ahead of Keen on six and Sargent on seven. Ian Smith rounded off a good day with a string of 4ths.

Day 2 dawned with no wind at all but by the published start time there was a solid Force 5 coming from the west. Keen dropped out of the overall reckoning when he broke his tiller extension before the start but Sargent and Bolland fought tooth and nail the whole way round, swapping the lead several times as the race progressed. Down the final run, Sargent had the inside berth towards the final gybe mark but Bolland tried a late manoeuvre towards the inside which might have worked had he had not then gone for the wrong mark, allowing Sargent to win by two lengths. 3rd place went to James Phare.

Going into the final race there was all to play for with the winner of Bolland and Sargent taking the overall prize. As the breeze moderated to a Force 3, Bolland powered up the first beat to lead by 50 yards at the first mark from Sargent. This lead was maintained for the next four rounds. Two hundred yards from the finish, Bolland seemed to have it all wrapped up. However, an incident with an RS400 sharing the course, caused Bolland to capsize, allowing Sargent through to win by a couple of lengths. Phare was again 3rd with Phil Underwood close behind.

With Sargent and Bolland both counting two firsts, two seconds and a third the contest was settled in favour of Sergent on account of his winning the last race.

Overall Results

1st 506 Matt Sargent (Royal Artillery YC) 6 pts
2nd 411 Steve Bolland (Bristol Corinthian YC) 6 pts
3rd 328 Tim Keen (Sheffield Viking YC) 15 pts
4th 368 Ian smith (Craven SC) 16 pts
5th 333 James Phare (Bough Beech SC) 17 pts
6th 398 Phil Underwood (Cotswold SC) 23 pts
7th 456 Graham Cooper (BCYC) 24 pts
8th 454 John Hibberd (BCYC) 25 pts