RS Vareo Inlands during the Illuminis Asymmetric Regatta

RS Vareo Inlands during the Illuminis Asymmetric Regatta at Milton Keynes Sailing Club

The RS Vareo fleet gathered in Milton Keynes for our first event of the year with most sailors having had somewhat limited time on the water in recent months due to Covid restrictions.

The event was recognised as part of the Milton Keynes European City of Sport 2020 (postponed from last year) and benefitted from some funding from MK Council allowing the purchase of a new Inlands trophy (beautifully designed and created by Steve at Sailing Awards) and an RS Vareo spinnaker to be raffled to the competitors. It was also the first event of the Rooster RS Vareo National Tour.

In its fourth year of this event, the sponsorship from Illuminis Insight Software also provided a free training day with legendary coach Pete Vincent on the Friday before the weekend’s racing for ten sailors. With a healthy blow gusting well into the 20’s Pete ran a series of exercises including tacking and gybing on the whistle, mark rounding and mini races with debriefing over video footage of the good, the bad and the ugly of our skills (or lack of them). Lots learned and huge thanks to Pete for a brilliant day.

So, with renewed vigour and an additional two RS Vareos and a couple of local RS200s, a best-ever event turnout of 14 boats took to the water for Saturday afternoon’s racing. An unhelpful North Westerly saw Race Officer Mark Warren set a course with two beats with a reach between followed by a decent downwind leg to get the kites up and have some fun.

In race one, newbie Richard Woods got off to a good start with ex MK sailor Howard Astley-Jones close behind and reigning champion Luke Fisher in 3rd at the end of the first lap. Howard got past to lead at the end of lap 2 and at the finish it was Howard from Luke, then Chris Abbott, with Richard fourth.

In race two current National Champion Nick Crickmore led for the first two laps but with the wind getting more and more shifty he was to suffer an afternoon of not quite being in the right place at the right time. Luke picked up the lead in lap 3 with Howard closing fast, and on the final run Paul North found a straight line to the windward mark to take third, with Nick in fourth.

The competitors then enjoyed a great lunch provided by the Illuminis shore team of Moira, Lu and “Eye Candy” Paul E. Over lunch looking at a VERY light forecast for Sunday the fleet agreed to returning to the water for three shorter races rather than the planned two.

In race three Paul got an uncharacteristic (and frankly completely fluky) good start and led to the first two marks. Of course, Luke and Howard soon got past, with Howard then getting past Luke to take his second bullet. Paul hung on for his second third place of the day with Chris finding a lift somewhere that took him from twelfth to fourth in a single lap.

In race four as the wind began to drop and become even more shifty, Howard ended up floating onto the windward mark and with the new rules for RS Vareos not allowing touching of the marks needed to take a penalty. With the wind picking up and getting going again he then caught the spinlock with his foot causing the kite to drop over the front of the boat and then promptly running over it – they make a great sea anchor! Meantime, Luke was really finding his form and lead from start to finish, with Ken Ward second. The final downwind leg saw much of the fleet very close with only a minute separating Chris in third from Howard in tenth at the finish.

In the final race of the afternoon Luke led from Richard then Alan Bassett to the finish.

As usual in these events, there were plenty of mini-battles going on further down the fleet – Nigel Tebbutt and Paul fighting over eighth, Mike Dicker, Martin Dyer and Cheryl Wood battling for tenth, eleventh and twelfth. Enjoyable racing and fantastic camaraderie on display throughout.

At the end of a great afternoon’s racing the fleet came ashore for a drink or two coupled with a fabulous fish and chip supper provided by the renowned Fenny Fish Bar.

Once the results were in, the overnight leader was Luke, from Howard then Chris. At the other end the scores determined that the sailors competing in the silver fleet would be Paul, Nigel, Cheryl, Jack and Courtney, Martin, Mike, and Jonathan and Kerry.

Sunday’s forecast improved a little from the previous evening and Race Office Keith King agreed to try to run two back-to-back races starting at 1200hrs in the hope the wind would fill in as suggested. With the principal direction of an equally unhelpful West South Westerly Keith set pretty much the mirror image of the course from day one.

In the end the wind did arrive in fits and starts but it was enough to run the two races needed to finish the planned series.

Cheryl, recovering from a broken ankle, decided she had done enough and along with Ken and the RS200s stayed ashore.

For the remaining ten sailors, thankfully, a little wind arrived for the start of race six but came and went through the 45 minutes it took to sail a two-lap race. With the wind swirling all over the place there was a memorable moment where Paul and Nick were sailing close hauled on Starboard tack to the second mark while Richard just 20 yards ahead was on Starboard with a full kite going like a train – bizarre.

Luke led from the start but lost out to a big shift allowing Chris to take his first win, followed by Howard then Alan who was finding the conditions to his liking.

Finally, after waiting all weekend Nick found the right places in the last race and led all the way round, Luke took second, with Howard third.

As on the first day Paul and Nigel spent the afternoon trading seventh and eighth at the top of the silver fleet tussle.

Busy at the windward mark during the RS Vareo Inlands at the Illuminis Asymmetric Regatta ©Kate Everall Photography

Once on shore and following another great lunch a socially distanced prize-giving saw all competitors receive a prize from the new Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Mohmmed Khan, including five miniature concrete cows (made from real concrete).

Richard was then thrilled to have his sail number drawn and to take home the new spinnaker. As is the custom at this event we also raised money from donations for MK’s Willen Hospice and this year will send them well over £200, THANK YOU.


First and RS Vareo National Inland Champion: Luke Fisher
Second: Howard Astley-Jones
Third: Chris Abbott
Fourth: Nick Crickmore
Rooster mid-fleet hero: Alan Bassett
Illuminis Newbie Award: Richard Woods
Silver Fleet Winner: Paul North
Longest distance travelled: Ken Ward
Silver Fleet second: Nigel Tebbutt
Silver Fleet third: Martin Dyer
First Double Hander: Jack Knight and Courtney Cornwell
Rooster Endeavour Award: Mike Dicker
RS Vareo Wooden Spoon: Cheryl Wood
Illuminis Wooden Spoon: Jonathan and Kerry Garfitt

See you next year!

Overall Results:

Pos Fleet Sail No Club Helm Crew PY R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Pts
1st 407 Emberton Park SC Luke Fisher 1093 2 1 2 1 1 ‑4 2 9
2nd 516 Milton Keynes SC Howard Astley‑Jones 1093 1 2 1 ‑10 6 2 3 15
3rd 649 The Nottingham Sailing Club Chris Abbott 1093 3 ‑6 4 3 4 1 4 19
4th 162 Waveney & Oulton Broad YC Nick Crickmore 1093 ‑7 4 5 4 7 5 1 26
5th 247 Weirwood SC Alan Bassett 1093 5 5 ‑7 5 3 3 5 26
6th 386 Torpoint Mosquito SC Richard Woods 1093 4 ‑9 6 7 2 6 6 31
7th Silver 443 Milton Keynes SC Paul North 1093 ‑9 3 3 9 9 7 8 39
8th 572 Sunderland Yacht Club Ken Ward 1093 6 7 8 2 5 (DNC) DNC 43
9th Silver 650 Haversham SC Nigel Tebbutt 1093 8 8 ‑9 8 8 8 7 47
10th Silver 369 Rutland Sailing Club Martin Dyer 1093 10 12 13 13 (DNC) 9 9 66
11th Silver 697 Hunts SC Jack Night Courtney Cornwell 1046 11 11 10 11 10 (DNC) DNC 68
12th Silver 539 Dell Quay SC Mike Dicker 1093 12 13 ‑14 12 11 10 10 68
13th Silver 660 Pennine SC Cheryl Wood 1093 13 10 12 6 (DNF) DNC DNC 71
14th Silver 328 Milton Keynes SC Jonathan Garfitt Kerry Garfitt 1046 14 14 11 14 (DNC) DNC DNC 83