Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Ross Vaughan Leads the RS400s at Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club

20th November 2023
The 17-boat fleet prepares for a start on week three of the RS400 Winter Series at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough
The 17-boat fleet prepares for a start on week three of the RS400 Winter Series at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough Credit: Emma Jane Boland

A cold and fresh westerly wind attracted a larger turnout for week three of the RS400 Winter Series at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough. The lucky streak of glamour sailing conditions continued for another weekend.

The forecasted heavy rain was playing kind and seemed to be avoiding Belfast Lough as the crews began arriving in numbers to the boat park, with the fleet looking set to face three races in a wind strength of between 10-15 knots.

After some high-profile returns to the class in recent weeks, it had an effect by attracting some familiar names to join in on the action.

The latest being Michael Browne with partner Jane Buchanan, decided to test their RS Elite keelboat dominance of late against the seasoned participants of the RS400 Winter series.

A start on week three of the RS400 Winter Series at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough Photo: Emma Jane BolandA start on week three of the RS400 Winter Series at Royal North of Ireland YC on Belfast Lough Photo: Emma Jane Boland

Other notable additions to the class for the first time were William Brown, as well as the return of the Dalzell brothers as 21 boats, made their way out to the start line.

Race Officer Gerry Reid & the on-water management team had the course ready and waiting for the fleet as the scheduled start sequence got underway on time.

Some grumbling of start line bias over the past two weekends in the boat park was swiftly put to bed as a square line enticed the fleet to behave for R1 of the day.

Bob Espey, with the return of his old stalwart of a crew Richard McCollough, were slightly too eager to get going after skipping last weekend and added another OCS to their series tally.

What followed was a closely fought battle royale between the top 3 overall in the series to date, with position changes taking place on each lap right through to the finish.

Tom Purdon & Olivia Hayes took a photo finish line honours over Ross Vaughan and stand-in crew Jane Kearney as usual crew (Andrew Vaughan) had to skip the days racing. In 3rd place were last week’s daily winners, Peter Kennedy and Stevie Kane.

A noticeable increase in wind speed greeted the fleet in the pre-race start sequence for R2. This ultimately brought out the best series’ bloopers so far, and mistakes began to creep in across the fleet as manoeuvres went badly up and downwind!

Noteworthy incidents included Stephen Mclernon and Edwina Ternan's port layline attempt at the windward mark and subsequent crash tack that nearly ended in the first capsize of the day.

There were also noises of GRP crunching on some port/starboard incidents.

Amongst the chaos on the tightly laid racecourse, the standout team of the series (Bob & Richard) continued to show superior boat speed and take home the win ahead of Liam and another top 3 for Peter and Stevie.

R3 started with a front rapidly coming down the lough over Black Mountain and another increase in wind strength. Much to the delight of the on-water race management team, a clear start led to a tightly contested 1st beat in a strong breeze between Bob Espey and Richard McCollough and Ross Vaughan Jane Kearney on who would take the lead at the windward mark. Bob Espey and Richard McCollough got inside, rounding the windward mark and never looked back for the rest of the race as they flexed their boat handling skills.

Ross Vaughan and Jane Kearney fell back into the chasing Peter Kennedy and Stevie Kane, with the subsequent manoeuvres between both ensuring the result was contested to the finish line between the series challengers. Team Peter Kennedy and Stevie Kane took the spoils, which capped off their consistent scoreline as winners of the day.

Liam Donnelly claimed 4th place, and Jocelyn Hill with Rowan Berry rounded off the top 5 and their best result.

The fast dash reach after the finish and back to the slipway was made all the better seeing our series sponsor and RS400 mainstay Robert Hastings (Bosun Bob) and new crew Peter Todd upside down on the hull after an unsuccessful gybe sent them swimming into a capsize on the last lap.

The series move on to week four with some intriguing battles set to take place as the overall leaderboard starts to become established and teams jostle for position over the remainder of the series.

RS400 Winter Series on Belfast Lough 2023 Results

RS 400 Winter Series - Week 3 Team

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At a Glance - Irish RS400/200 Events for 2023 

  • RS Westerns Galway City Sailing Club - April 1/2
  • RS Open Training Strangford SC 29/30 April
  • Northerns - Strangford Sailing Club - May 6/7
  • Irish RS Games - Nationals - Blessington Sailing Club 23-25 June
  • UK Nationals Mounts Bay 31 July - 04 August 2023
  • Southerns/Easterns - 26/27 August- Wexford Harbour SC
  • Inlands - 23/24 September - Killaloe SC

RS Feva

  • Feva Easterns Royal Irish YC- May 6/7, RS Feva UK Nationals-Pwhelli, UK- May 27th-30th
  • Irish RS Games - Nationals - Blessington Sailing Club 23-25 June (open to all RS classes)
  • Feva Northerns - East Down YC - 26/27 Aug / Southerns - Monkstown BSC- 23/24 Sept

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