Rooster RS Tera National Championships - Isle of Wight 2024
Royal Victoria Yacht Club
23 August 2023
The largest ever fleet of RS Teras gathered for the 2023 National Championships at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on the Isle of Wight. 144 helms competed over 3 days from 10th to 12th August in some testing conditions.
The RVYC volunteers came out in force to support sailors and crew, both onshore and on the water. Conditions on day 1 were forecast to be at the top end of any sailors’ ability and the 120 main fleet sailors left the shore and headed to the race area in South westerly winds of 18-23 knots.
Conditions in the start area were testing with a tough swell and some big gusts. The Pro fleet got a clean start in race 1 and Island sailors Olly Smith from Gurnard Sailing Club spotted the strong right shifts on the gusts. Remarkably, sailing with a broken wrist, he took the win from Lymington’s Amelia Hutchinson. In the Sport fleet, Filey Sailing Club’s Thomas Whitehead revelled in the conditions and led the fleet to the win. An unfortunate Zoe Lomas-Clarke capsized just before the line to let Matthew Boatman from Sunderland through for second.
The wind came up a notch during race 2, consistently gusting over 25 knots, survival conditions for most. In the Pros Will Bradley hit the right hand corner, maintaining the Gurnard form to win the Pro race from a persistent and hard charging Olly Smith. Sailors were blasting across the bottom reach with big waves making it difficult to make it through the finish gate. In the Sports Ollie Wilson from Sutton Bingham sailed an amazing race to win from the heavy wind specialist Thomas Whitehead.
The Race Officer Tom Rusbridge wisely sent the fleet home as conditions continued to deteriorate. A fab Chilli meal, one of 3 evening meals superbly organised by Danny Watson of DW Hospitality and his team, was served on the RVYC lawn to hungry and tired sailors.
On day 2 the wind had abated slightly and swung round to the West although still gusted around 25 knots. An ebbing tide was pushing the fleets over the line and the Pro fleet got away after one recall. The left side was paying as the fleets were accelerated along the shore by the tide. Port Dinorwic’s Ben Greenhalgh took the win from Gurnard’s Ben Anderson, returning to the Teras for this event. The Sport fleet managed a start under the black flag after 4 attempts with 14 sailors sitting out the race. Daniel Whitehead kept up the family name with the win, followed by Cass Day, another Island and Gurnard sailor.
The Pro fleet started their second race only shortly after the Sport fleet had finished their starting practice. The Pros were lead all the way by pond sailor Mark Soars from Frensham followed by Ben Greenhalgh in second.
Now somewhat behind schedule, the Sport fleet’s Thomas Whitehead was back on form to win from Will Haines who is enjoying his switch into the Tera.
The Pro third race of the day was again won by Ben Greenhalgh with Will Stratton-Brown from Frensham finding his form to take second. For the Sport fleet’s second race the tide was still causing mayhem on the start line and the black flag tally was even higher than the first race. The results were a family affair with Thomas beating Daniel Whitehead in the one-two with Will Haines in third.
The wind started to fall away for the fourth Pro race and the tide became more dominant. Will Bradley from Gurnard hit the left hard and came out a long way in front of the pack and was never caught. Henry Reed took a very well deserved second, keeping the chasers at bay.
The Pros headed home but the Sports had to stay out for extra starting practice to complete their fourth race of the day which was won yet again by Thomas Whitehead trading blows again with Will Haines second and Ollie Wilson third.
The evening’s BBQ was served to over 350 sailors and families who were entertained by the fabulous local guitar vocalist Corinne Atkins under the evening sunshine – sadly an exhausted fleet couldn’t stay awake to enjoy her full set!
The Sport fleet had a race to make up by day 3 and started first on the inner loop. The wind was from the South between 16 and 20 knots, making the left side of the course pay in the strong ebbing tide. Thomas Whitehead grabbed another win with Rafe Bradley in second. In both the Pro fleet’s first two races of the day Ben Greenhalgh won to make it three wins in a row with Will Stratton-Brown second.
In the Sports second race of the day, Will Haines won and “three Weatabix” Rafe Bradley took another second. Rafe backed up the next race with his third second place of the day, this time beaten by club mate Cass Day.
So to the final race. The Pro fleet overall leader Ben Greenhalgh rounded in the top 5 but capsized on the first downwind leg, losing a handful of places. He recovered to 7th but was it enough to win the event? Ben Anderson took the race win from Will Stratton-Bown who notched up his third second place of the day. Ben had done just enough to become UK National Champion to go with the World Champion title he won the week before in Italy. A great achievement in two sets of contrasting conditions. In the Sport fleet Thomas needed a top 10 result to take his first National title. Brother Daniel won the race from Will Haines who had done just enough to take the National Championship title by one point.
Helen Vrba, RVYC Commodore, said. “What an amazing four days RVYC had, hosting the RS Tera Nationals –the largest-ever national event for this class! And certainly, the largest event RVYC has ever run in our 175-year history. It was a huge pleasure hosting all the competitors and their families - over 300 people. We couldn’t have done this without the support of our amazing members and their commitment on and off the water. Our slipway team broke their own record on the final day, launching 77 of the Tera Sports fleet in just 14 minutes! Fantastic feedback from our visitors, especially about how friendly and welcoming we are, and also our wonderful location and access to some of the finest sailing waters.”
The RVYC team led by Jane Barrett-Bellingham laid on a fantastic, memorable and inclusive event which showcased the club and the island’s sailing at its best. It was great to see support and sailors from all over the country and the Isle of Wight as well as some coming out of retirement for the event.
Generous prizes were, as always, donated by event sponsors Rooster and Allen to back up the event support from Wightlink ferries, and thanks to the support from them and RS Sailing donating raffle prizes, we were able to raise around £650 for the RNLI, are chosen charity this year. Our thanks go to Daniel Rodwell of the Burnham on Crouch RNLI for their support of the event.
Marcus Collingbourne, Class Development Manager, had the final word on the event “I am delighted with the success of this year’s Nationals at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on the fabulous Isle of Wight. We had some concerns when we decided to go to the island but these were quickly dispelled when we sold out our original boat limit in just 72 hours!
A special “thank you” must go to our Race team of PRO Tom Rusbridge, ARO Steve Sheridan (RVYC), Event Safety Officer Paul Bew, Mark layer Mike Weighill and all the safety team made up of RVYC volunteers and UKRTCA parent who managed a hugely testing event – well done guys!
My heartfelt thanks go to Jane, Helen, Danny and crew, and all the members who made our Tera Fleet so welcome and laid on an unforgettable Nationals – you were a pleasure to work with!”
After completing our “tour” round the regions over the last 5 years, 2024 sees us take our UK RS Tera National Championships back to the East. Can we break our record entry again next year – watch this space!
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