Commodore Paddy Wodhams welcomed some of the RS Aero fleet to Swords Sailing and Boating Club at Broadmeadows, Malahide, in County Dublin, for class coaching with Noel Butler (NYC) in advance of the class national championships. After a quickfire bow-to-stern rigging and tweaking session, boat handling and trim were to the fore for the on-the-water coaching in Zephyrs. Starting practice and a few short races followed before we retired to the club.
The light air forecast sadly didn’t fail, and on Saturday morning, under the limp flags, we took the opportunity to wash down our boats. Siobhan Broaders RO, however, was certain the breeze would fill in, and so it did.
Many had been debating with themselves whether to stay with the smaller 6 rigs or trade up for a more enjoyable sail, so just 4 x 6 rigs took to the water with the rest of the fleet in 7s and one sailor quickly regretting not going to his 9 option!
In the first race of the weekend, Sarah Dwyer (RStGYC) in a 6 rig made it to the windward mark in first, but by the end of the second reach of the 3 lap Olympic course, Daragh Sheridan HYC and Kevin Stallard BLSC in 7 rigs, had overtaken her. Towards the end of the second downwind leg, Daragh finally secured a solid lead. However, there was still doubt at the finish if he had taken the win on PY from Sarah, which was later confirmed, by 3 seconds. “One bad tack”.
From there on Daragh dominated almost from every start, heading out of the boat and choosing pressure over pointing, Kevin always in close pursuit at the top of the fleet. A few battles ensued elsewhere with several regretting the choice of the smaller rig in the tricky air. With racing cancelled up and down the East Coast, it was extraordinary we got four races in, although some of us half wished we hadn’t! The benefit of almost zero tidal flow in Broadmeadows and an RO with great local knowledge.
A good stretch, the Leinster game, chats, great burgers and salads welcomed us ashore.
Overnight, Daragh and Kevin were almost assured of first and second with four great scores under their belts, but just two points separated the next three sailors, Noel and Sarah in 6 rigs and John Phelan (HYC) in a 7. The draw of the Leinster game had taken Roy Van Maanen (GSC) out of two races.
Much to the relief of all those on the water, races 5 and 6 were in more breeze, although still some floaty and tense cramp-inducing downwind legs. We were even rewarded with a very welcome ‘almost hiking’ upwind on the second beat of the final race.
Daragh (7 rig), having dominated with two more bullets, Kevin (7) with 2 & 3 and Sarah (6) with a 3 & 2, made up the podium.
1st 6 rig prize went to Noel Butler (NYC); John Phelan (HYC) 1st 7rig; Emmet O’Sullivan, up from Monkstown Bay, took first Master; Christina Cunnigham of Ballyholme, 1st Lady and the Novice prize went to local laser sailor Shane Peel, who finished 7th overall and took a 3rd in race 2 from many more seasoned Aero sailors, sailing a loan boat provided by Kenny Rumball of RM Marine Services, the Southern RS dealer.
It may not have been the weather for exciting sailing, but it was nail-biting, fairly close racing, tense and competitive, with plenty of roll-tacking. Huge thanks to Siobhan Broaders RO and her team, to a lovely club and all its members’ hospitality.
There will be plenty of learning opportunities from the weekend, which we will take forward to the RS Aero National Championships in three weeks in Dublin Bay hosted by the National Yacht Club and officiated by their own Eddie Totterdell and team. A Class Association coaching day will be held by excellent NYC Club coach, Thomas Chaix on the Friday, open to all members of the class.