Starcross Steamer Jan 2023

Last Sunday saw the first race and first open event of 2023, the Starcross Steamer, a handicap pursuit race on the Exe estuary in the UK.

Pursuit races are a great fun race format. All boat classes have a handicap, the race has a fixed length (e.g. 150 mins), slower boats start first, faster boats later with the idea being everyone is trying to catch up to and overtake everyone else. After the fixed race time, the race is stopped, and positions are taken by the safety boats.

Here’s the write-up and results in Yachts and Yachting, I sailed an RS Aero 9.

It was an early start to the day, and we were rewarded with some lovely views.

The wind arrived later than predicted, and with a closing tide window, the race was shortened to 120 mins. We launched as the wind filled in around the course and the breeze built steadily throughout the afternoon.

I switched up to the Aero 9 which turned out to be a great choice, I wasn’t over-powered, but it was fast and a decent physical challenge. My legs lasted longer than my forearms in the end, and it was my (ahem) brachioradialis muscles (upper forearm) that started aching the most.

Video by Derek Hathaway, view his Youtube Channel.

Starcross YC is a lovely venue, it was a great sailing area and course, the wind was good, and it was mostly sunny. I came mid-fleet-ish which was a new P.B. for me at opens, and not so far off the Aero 9 ahead of me.

What a cracking start to the year’s sailing :).

2022 on the water

Looking back, 2022 was a great year on the water. My main sailing goal for the year was to compete in the RS Aero Championships, a five day event. The months of training were a success and I managed all five days.

In May I did a kayak fishing course and got to paddle around Old Harry Rocks. I didn’t catch anything but paddling around the rocks was awesome. We want to do more kayaking in 2023 and try to catch some fish too.

The first open of the year was the Lymington RS Aero open in May. It was a very light wind tricky conditions day.

From May to July, I’m a volunteer dinghy instructor on Saturdays at my local club in Swanage. After weird broken up 2020/2021 training seasons thanks to COVID restrictions, it was great to get back to normal.

August had the year’s sailing highlight with the five day RS Aero European Championships in Weymouth. My training worked and I was the fittest I’d been in years going into it, and I managed the week. Read a longer write up here.

In September, it was off to Salcombe for a two day event. Salcombe is beautiful and I’d always wanted to sail there. Hugging the shore and rocks to stay out of the stronger currents involved a ton of short tacks which was hard on the knees, and tactically it was hard work.

At times it felt like orienteering, sailing off into different parts of the estuary and finding marks. It was absolutely unforgettable, and topped off with a fab dinner in the evening at Salcombe Yacht Club.

Photos three and four by Nicki Bartlett

My sailing improved a lot in 2022, which was reflected in my club results, I came third in the Spring and Summer handicap series and had some good cup results.

The biggest improvement of the year was upwind boat speed, thanks to the Weymouth Euros, I finally got the hang of keeping the boat flat and driving in strong winds (like F6), also getting the boat into the groove keeping it there. Fitness and strength plays a huge part in boat speed and I made big gains here, it’s sure fired me up for more.

Again, thanks to Weymouth, I learned a lot about sailing in shifty conditions and look forward to putting those learnings to use in 2023. Thanks Peter Barton and our friendly class for all the tips.

In 2023, I want to continue to impove upwind speed, and also downwind in strong winds. Also improve tactics and angles, and get ever fitter, more flexible and stronger.

The big event for 2023 will likely the Aero 6/9 nationals in Weymouth and the training campaign started today. 🙂