Grafham Water Sailing Club 14-15 March
The RS100 fleet met at Grafham for their first open meeting of the year. A select group of 10 sailors all sailing the 8.4 rig and including the current world champion, Alistair Dickson (The Youth), European champion, Huw Powell, Sprints champion, David Smart, Inland champion, Andrew Wilson, and former Euro Cup champion, Jon Holroyd back in the fleet.
The wind was a cold and shifty force 3 to 4 all day with gust hunting proving essential for the leeward legs.
Al Hall led the fleet over the starboard biased line, only to hear his number called for being early. Huw Powell, Alistair Dickson and Jon Holroyd led the fleet up the first beat with Powell leading the fleet round the first of the three laps. Holroyd and Powell fought a tight race, but a lapse of concentration led to Powell scraping his kite over Holroyd’s rear end leading to a 720, even though the rules only required a 360. That allowed Holroyd to take the win with Dickson taking second from Powell. Behind them was a tight battle between Andrew Wilson, Greg Booth, Mark Harrison and David Smart. Booth should have placed fifth, but he let Harrison through and kindly capsized under pressure to let Smart through for sixth.
A starboard shift after the start meant those on the right gained. Powell was again first to the windward mark followed closely by Smart. Powell went right and carried on, taking in many sights on his trip away from the course. Smart followed for a while before spotting Powell’s mistake, but kindly not telling him that everyone else had gybed off into a big gust taking the rest of the fleet down to the leeward mark. Dickson and Booth took advantage and moved into first and second, but Booth succeeded in a starboard call on Holroyd who took a chilly dip as a result. On the final lap, Harrison had pulled up to third, but when hiking out after a gybe led to a broken toestrap, swim and expletive, made worse by Smart’s cheery thanks as he sailed past for third place behind Dickson and Booth. Wilson continued his consistent results with another fourth followed by Harrison and Powell after his sightseeing trip.
The start line was slightly port biased for the last start of the day, but Dickson won the pin and slowly pulled away. He was followed up the beat by Holroyd, Booth and Powell. That group of four pulled away from the rest, but the wind slowly built to around 15 knots with a large gust hitting the fleet and causing carnage on the final run. Smart’s main halyard snapped and Dickson’s downhaul snapped, but they carried on gamely in fifth and first. However in front the leading group had gybed left with Smart banging the right hand corner. Powell stuffed it in on a gybe and Holroyd showed some uncharacteristic rustiness letting Smart through to second with Holroyd third. Booth decided to check the inside of his hull for water at the finish line when his shroud pulled the upper deck away from the lower. He still crossed fourth, but was a little upset and wouldn’t be able to sail on Sunday. Wilson carried on his consistent form in fifth followed by Harrison and Powell, but new boy Tom as against the old boy Huw, who had spent some considerable time fishing, but without success to finish eighth, with Hall finishing the racing for the day.
The fleet enjoyed a few beers watching rugby, with Booth and Dickson carrying on into the night at a local pub in St Neots. When waiting for a late night taxi back to their hotel, a local ‘lady’ and her ‘daughter’ asked Dickson if Booth was his dad, to rub more salt into Booth’s very raw wounds.
Saturday dawned with a similar cold force 3 to 4 and the sun hiding behind an imposing grey sky.
Wilson showed everyone his class and led the fleet round the windward mark with Dickson leading the chase. Behind them the rest of the fleet were merrily trading places with rookie Tom Powell demonstrating that he was a fast learner crossing the rest of the fleet. Wilson’s lead grew, but on the last beat Dickson pushed right and dialled into a lucky shift to take him just ahead of Wilson with Powell rounding third ahead of Smart. Smart gybed and went left, taking greater pressure which had Dickson worried for a minute, but a lull put paid to that attack and Dickson took another bullet followed by Wilson and Powell.
An unbiased line led to another clean start. Hall showed some early pace off the line at the pin end going left. However Powell and Dickson soon pushed their noses in front and distanced the chasing pack with Dickson overhauling Powell when he gybed into a lucky gust. Holroyd returned to the front of the chasing pack after Wilson took an uncharacteristic dip. Class chairman Harrison also started to show his normal speed coming in fourth with Hall a hard earned fifth.
Dickson had done enough to take an early hot shower. Holroyd, Powell, Wilson and Smart were the leading contenders for the minor places and it was Holroyd who stepped up to the plate taking an easy race win and second overall. At the start of the last run, Powell was sitting in a comfortable second place (and third overall) when he gybed left into a big gust, not realising that the wind had shifted and the fleet could lay the finish line on starboard gybe. On spotting his error, a hasty gybe led to a hasty swim leaving Smart to claim second and third place on the podium. Wilson came home fourth to take fourth overall. That swim had cost Powell 2 places overall, demonstrating just how tight the event had been.
Everyone agreed that it had been a fantastic event with fast race turnarounds, much appreciated in the cold wind, achieved by a very professional Race Officer and his team. Dickson had sailed very consistently to win overall by some margin. The rest of the fleet have some catching up to do All were looking forward to rejoining battle at the sprint championships at Rutland on 11/12 April.
Alistair Dickson (6 points)
Jon Holroyd (13)
David Smart (17)
Andrew Wilson (19)
Huw Powell (20)
Mark Harrison (23)
Al Hall (32)
Greg Booth (35)
Tom Powell (37)
Report by David Smart