RS Aero world champion, Steve Cockerill won the Exe Sails Roadford Rocket charity race in a tight finish on Sunday.
This year, the Roadford Rocket was blessed with a good weather window in between torrential showers on Saturday and high winds on the Monday. The event attracted 64 entries who enjoyed a 2 ½ hr pursuit race in a decent force 3 and relatively balmy January temperatures of 12°. First away was the laser 4.7 of local sailor Tom Griffiths at 1135, followed 5 minutes later by the Firefly of Angus Cook crewed by Ellie Hopper and eventually the rest of the fleet. Griffiths held the lead for the 1st lap before being overtaken by Angus Cook. Still he remained in 2nd and 3rd place for the next 2 laps, which was a very creditable performance by a young sailor. There was quite a significant gap between the first two boats and the rest of the fleet on the initial laps, but by the end of the 3rd lap the laser of Ben Flower had moved up to third-place, followed by the Solo of Jeremy Williams, and in 5th place and moving rapidly was the RS Aero 7 of Steve Cockerill.
Last away was the Foiling Moth of Dan Ellis at 1310, with much speculation by the watchers as to how quickly he would catch up. His 1st lap took 14 minutes, marred by a probably expensive capsize. After that he settled down to reel in some very quick laps and was unlucky with the wind dropping in the final 15 minutes, which dropped him off his foils, otherwise he would probably have challenged the win.
There was not quite enough wind on the fairly broad downwind legs for the spinnaker boats to make as big an impact as they had in previous events, but Peter and Kelly Gregg in Osprey 1281 did very well to get in amongst the single handers and finish in 10th place. As the race went into its final stages, the RS Aero 9 of Peter Barton had moved up to 4th place, and then moved ahead of Ben Flower in his laser as they crossed the start finish line for the last time. Slightly further back, there was a big tussle between the Phantoms of Simon Hawkes and Nick Orman. They were followed by the D Zeros of Steve Boland and Stacey Bray, the Blaze of Hugh Kingdom and then junior RS Aero sailor Noah Rees.
At the final time gun, Steve Cockerill had established the a 50 yard lead over the Firefly of Angus Cook, who had thwarted the attack of the RS Aero 9 of Peter Barton, himself a previous event winner and RS Aero 9 National Champion.
There were only 3 retirements due to minor mishaps and compared to previous years events, the rescue boats had a very dull afternoon! Thanks are due to all the Roadford Lake members who helped out with organisation, the South West Lakes trust staff who manned the rescue boats and made sure everything worked. Exe Sails provided the sponsorship prizes and Sailing Southwest brought the GPS trackers, which proved to be a revelation when it came to working out the results accurately. Profits from the meeting came to £300 which will be donated to the Calvert Trust for the disabled on Exmoor.
Results: 1st RS Aero 7 2319 Steve Cockerill, Stokes Bay; 2nd Firefly 3695 Angus Cook, Ellie Hopper, North Devon YC; 3rd RS Aero 9 2093 Peter Barton, Lymington Town; 4th Phantom 1466 Nick Orman, Castle Cove; 5th Phantom 1454 Simon Hawkes Starcross; 6th D Zero 11 Steve Bolland, Bristol Corinthian. 1st Junior Noah Rees, RS Aero 7 1230, Torpoint Mosquito; 1st Lady helm Sarah Cockerill RS Aero 7 2320, Stokes Bay
Full Results; https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/0aeb0b_f1d691d2803748d48d60ce679a1612e7.pdf
The Official Video of the Exe Sails Roadford Rocket by Ben Hawkes. Photos taken by Sailing Southwest; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM0Thd-INKw
Photos from the Roadford Rocket 2018 by Sailing Southwest
Roadford Rocket Prize Winners: