Aspirin Trophy Re-Match Report – 22nd November

24/11/2014

After 21 years of racing the RBODs for the ‘Aspirin Trophy’, possibly one of the most crucial annual events on the international yachting calendar, in the RBOD class, we finally had a return match on home waters in the RTYC J/80s.

Being very much a Corinthian event, we met at Queen Mary Reservoir for lunch, with the plan to have a best of three, three boat team race.  As we gathered on the balcony of QMSC, we were greeted with a mirror flat and breathless race area, with the forecast to drop from nothing, to whatever less than nothing is…With the prospect of no racing and an afternoon of watching the Rugby with a few jars, no one was too worried that it was going to be a wasted day; however the PRO, Peter Schroeder, ambitious and fearless as ever, believed we could get at least one race in and we should risk it.
 

After a swift briefing the teams ventured down the dock to acquaint themselves with the J/80s, which must have been a bit of a shock for the RBOD class who are more used to clinker, brass fittings, wooden cleats and no kicking strap. There was now definitely less than nothing as forecast, and we all rocked or got towed out by Bulent Zazici, to the start boat. Peter Schroder, Victor Prior, and Ali Devlin were struggling to get any flags to fly, however a small puff of wind was seen gently rippling across the water, possibly caused by a passing jogger, or low flying plane. 

At just before 13.00 the first gun went with the RTYC having a superb start, with boats in 1, 2, 4 position and a strong beat to the windward mark. Iain Macdonald-Smith went hard left, whilst Alex Pollock took the middle ground, and Matt Hardy flogged his sails to slow down the boats behind. The square shaped course, led to a procession to mark number 2, and a slow gybe before we headed dead down wind to mark 3. The RTYC at this point put the air breaks on and the RBOD class shot through (‘shot’ is used a relative term here in 0.5 knots of wind!) As we rounded mark 4, the RTYC team was covered all the way to the finish, giving the RBOD class there first win. 

 

After a brief conference it was decided we would risk another race, and again the RTYC had a great start, coming off the line in 1,2,3 positions, but again when we went down wind we slowed and the RBOD class sailed through us. Matt parked himself on mark 3 and attempted to take out a number of boats, so Alex Pollock and Iain Macdonald-Smith could catch up, however his efforts were thwarted as the RBOD class found a small puff and accelerated away.

With the regatta being a best of three, the RBOD class had won the Aspirin Trophy, however event manager at Captain of the RTYC team, Tom Montgomery decided to use his powers and make it a best of five regatta! A little breeze had developed whilst the decision to lengthen the event was being made, and our plucky PRO went into the next start sequence. The team race started minutes before the start with Matt sailing RBOD boat one away from the line, whilst Alex Pollock got a stunning committee boat end start covering the fleet, whilst Iain protected the pin end. With a bit of breeze the RTYC team had the edge, and we rounded the 2 and 3 mark in 1,2,4 positions and headed for the final two, with Iain having a battle with two boats, whilst Alex and Matt stretched their legs and went for the finish, winning the first race for the RTYC. The forth race saw the RTYC team continue with their Americas Cup style come back, with Alex Pollock gaining  a second bullet of the regatta, with Matt and Iain and teams close behind.

 

It was now down to the final race with both teams on 2 race wins each. A few of the more genial sailors amongst the throng suggested calling it draw and heading back to the bar, however the racier amongst them had different plans. Both teams provided the spectators with some aggressive and exciting pre-start manoeuvres, with both teams sparring with each other to hand out penalties before the start. The RTYC again had an impressive start and first beat, with the RBOD class spreading out across the race course, to find some wind. This paid off and two boats sneaked ahead of Matt and Iain as they rounded the windward mark. Again the RTYC lacked downwind speed, and an RBOD boat luffed Iain into Alex, causing Alex to do a turn. The RBOD fleet were now in the lead and although the RTYC pulled out all the stops, the RBOD fleet sailed over the finish line to a much deserved win.
 

That evening, Michael Baker-Harber very kindly and generously put on a superb drinks party for all the sailors at his house, before we moved to the RTYC for a splendid dinner and succession of speeches, a prize giving, and as usual with the Aspirin Trophy a number of tales of woe from Alistair ‘Rubber Ball’ Munroe and Iain Macdonald-Smith!
 

 
Many thanks to Sarah Hornby and Simon the Bosun for all their work getting the boats ready, to Bulent Yazici for driving the RIB, Peter Schroeder (PRO) with his team of Victor Prior and Ali Devlin for pulling of an amazing feat of getting 5 races off in 0.5kts of breeze, to Mike for the drinks party, and to all the Coffee Room team for a fun dinner,  the RBOD class for such good racing, and of course to George the Barman for keeping the evening going late into the night as ever.

Tom Montgomery