UK RS500 National Championship 2023
Report by Steve Cockerill (original report)
The RS500 Noble Marine National Championship at the Salcombe Gin RS Summer Regatta at Hayling Island Sailing Club was part of the Rooster National Tour and was held over the long weekend of 23rd – 25th June.
The RS500 has had somewhat of a resurgence in the last 12 months with some quality sailors joining the UK fleet. Perhaps it was the success of the GBR fleet at the worlds – taking 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th at the event held last year at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. Although the World Champions (Tim and Heather Wilkins) were missing from this Championships, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th were represented by Edd Whitehead and Ian Mairs, Hugh Watson (who was now sailing with Helen,) Peter and James Curtis, and lastly the Dutch Team Hylke Kooistra and Thomas Holewijn. So although the event entry looked relatively small the competition was tough.
Day one: Edd and Ian revelled in the windy conditions taking the lead at the first mark from Steve and Sarah Cockerill and then extending on the fleet. Steve and Sarah had poor downwind speed and lost places downwind throughout the day’s racing despite having some pace upwind. Paul Cullen and Fresh Abendstern were the pair that made the most of the long downwinds against the tidal stream, taking some consistent positions (mostly seconds to Edd and Ian’s firsts). Although they are relative newcomers to the RS500 fleet, both have come from Fireball sailing and are loving the close racing the RS500 can deliver. Simon and Katie Horsfield also revelled in the downwinds taking some solid 3rds. The Dutch Team of Hylke and Thomas won the last race of the day to look in good shape.
Steve Cockerill and Sarah Cockerill have some history in the fleet. They finished second at the World Championship in the distant past six years previously. They had dominated the Sprints in the Spring. But that was flat water – and Hayling cannot be called flat water. Steve discovered that the lack of rig tension and lowers tension was very slow downwind.
Day two: more moderate winds. Paul and Fresh, using a more upright rig with lots of lowers tension, appeared to have the best set up for the day taking a two, one, one. Steve added more lowers and he and Sarah started to gain some downwind speed. Edd and Ian’s results put them in second overnight from Paul and Fresh. Hylke and Thomas were now in third, just one point from Steve and Sarah despite their better scores of the day compared wtih Hylke and Thomas.
Day three: lots more wind. Steve and Sarah raked and added more lowers and found some more pace upwind and downwind. Edd and Ian also loved the conditions. So they shared the race wins between them. Paul and Fresh found the conditions hard, only counting a third in the day’s racing but held onto second convincingly. Steve and Sarah took third overall from Hylke and Thomas.
Our next big RS500 event is the Worlds in the Czech republic. Those who raced at Hayling certainly had some quality practice and some superb quality racing. Thank you to Hayling Island SC for running a splendid championship. Thank you to Noble Marine, Salcombe Gin and Rooster for their great sponsorship.