RS400 RS End of Season Regatta, Datchet Water Helm Sgt Andy Rodwell RAF Odiham Crew Fg Off Chris Carrington-Smith (RAF Benson) Datchet Water, near Windsor, hosted the end of Season Regatta for the RS suite of boats and for what turned out to be a show of over 160 boat. We entered the RS400 into a fleet of 19 boats, the quality of which included current and past winners of the class national championships The forecast was for very light breeze for Saturday going lighter for Sunday with fog in the morning; not the ideal conditions to go up against the hardened racers in their last event of the year in what was our first event since collecting the boat. Two race courses were set on the lake with the RS400 sharing theirs with RS100,300,500,600 and 800, making a very busy pre-start race area. After a short postponement to the starting sequence, we got away in the third start in no more than 5 knots of steady breeze. The left of the line proved to work along with an early tack to take us up the middle of beat, whereby we reached the first mark in third place. Putting in an early gybe, it was clear that our preparation/time in boat was not up to the yachts around us as they clearly had more speed so we ended the run by dropping four more places. This was the format for the rest of the race with a further three more laps of gaining places on the beat and loosing on the run. A premature kite drop at the last mark dropped us another four places before the finish. Eventually finishing in a disappointing 15 place. The second race felt like a replay of the first with a good start and third at the windward mark. Better speed on the run and better performance around the marks made for a solid result with an eighth place finish. The reading of the wind shifts seemed to also help this time. Final race saw an average start in the middle of a very port biased line putting us in the middle of the fleet from the outset. Good gains were made upwind only to throw it away with a poor mark rounding (coming in on port with no rights!) which meant a 720 penalty turn was taken. This was carried out in approximately three knots of wind and after completion put us firmly in near last. Good last beat took us to 11 th place where we finished in the near dark and dying breeze. Unfortunately, we didn’t sail on Sunday. This was for two reasons: the forecast was looking like a non-starter with fog looking likely but the main reason being Chris was off on Op Herrick the following week and required to be in work Sunday afternoon for more pre deployment preparation. An interesting start to our RS400 campaign. We certainly have been able to recognise where we are weak: light wind boat handling and speed. This can be put down to this event being the first time we have been up against ‘fast’ RS400s and quite clearly we have a lot to learn, mainly downwind. However, the plus points being we saw the front of the fleet so being able to tune the boat and gain experience next year with hopefully insure we will keep the place for more solid performances.