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Your AssociationThe RS400 International Association is the world community and governing body of the RS400 class.
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Champions ProfileStewart and Sarah Robertson
Stewart: I started sailing on Forfar Loch with my Dad when I was about 5 or so in an Enterprise. I was usually on the starboard side, under the foredeck, with my brother John on the port side. When we were older we saved to buy our first Mirror dinghy kit. My Dad helped us build it in our bedroom and we loved every minute from the moment the kit arrived at the house to sailing in the European Championships in ’73. I moved on to the Enterprise and enjoyed years sailing and making friends (including Sarah Harbon - as she was then). The highlights included winning the worlds in ’76 and later the Nationals in ’81 with Sarah. I enjoyed team racing at University and a trip to the US with the British Universities' team. After forays into Merlins and 470s amongst others I returned to Ents and stayed till 1994.
In ’95 I was lent an RS400 and went to the championships in Portland Harbour. It was all quite different although some of the names were very familiar, there having been a general rush of enthusiasm for the class. Following a few years falling off a 49er to keep the offspring happy, myself and Sarah returned to the 400 in 2011 mainly due to the enthusiasm of Keith Bedborough. Having practised in the Ent in the 80s it was nice to sail together again and with the passage of time there were no sprogs to make demands on time. (Only money and cars).
Sarah: Started sailing in enterprises at Beaver Sailing Club in my teens with my Dad who was very keen but also learning to sail. We learnt the fast way by travelling the NE circuit, doing the Nationals, Ullswater week, Southport 24 hour races, team racing events etc etc.
After winning the Enterprise Nationals with Stewart (and 2nd in the worlds the following year) we also sailed 470s for a while then I took a break to look after kids while Stewart tried out Fireballs and eventually 400s. I started to helm at some point when it seemed like the best way to get a sail. I got my own RS200 about 10 years ago and managed to compete reasonably successfully on the Scottish circuit with Kate my crew. At some point about 3 years ago Stewart was desperate for a crew one weekend, I eventually offered my services, we both enjoyed sailing together to our mutual surprise and here we are!
My Winning Tip
Stewart: My philosophy on sailing the 400 is quite simple. Sail flat, work hard, focus and think all the time. I also find that the more you practise, the luckier you get.
Sarah: do it your own way. There are no rules for hanging out or moving around the boat. I have been to some daft crews talks where straight legged hiking or tacking backwards were stated as the only way to do it. Find out what works best for your body and for your sailing situation and get good at it.
- extend your hiking stamina by spreading the load across your body. I use a combination of arms and leg muscles to lock into a position that I can stay in for a while.
- concentrate on boat heel & sail trim. Move both as often as is needed.
- keep aware of what's going on around you - other boats, changes in wind.
- remember to pack the rudder :)
- Read the course before going afloat, Check the committee boat for things that may change :) :)
- watch out for flags :) :) :)
- hang out really really hard after the start - flat boat can really slow down boats around you.
- practice your roll tacks - in the 400 the crew can do this easily help a lot in these.
- take enough water and food for a long day on the water - remember to make your helm eat and drink.
- work out where to put your feet when crossing the boat (having a plan protects from bruises).