Numerically, 49ers and Laser 5000s were the larger fleets with RS700 and 800, B14s and Musto Skiffs, as well as Asymmetric Catamarans for the first time at this event, adding to the variety.
Saturday provided sunshine and wind which made three races fairly hard work. Race one saw competitors chasing a wind bend on the north shore, the big cats were first round the mark but only Jon Worthington/Tom Quayle on the F18 managed to stay in front of the 49ers to the end. On Handicap the 49er of Ben McGrane/ Jony Clegg won with the F18 pushed into 4th place by the 49er of Jim Baldwin/Johnny Buckhouse and Richard Stenhouse in the Musto Skiff.
Race 2 was sailed in stronger winds, around force 4, with big shifts which provided opportunities to gain or loose a lot. The F18 won on the water again but still ended up 4th as Baldwin/Buckhouse took the handicap result from Burlton/Gilbert and Stenhouse again 3rd.
The third race was run with less wind, which was as well for some by now tired crews. Stenhouse managed to plot the shifts nicely for a win from McGrane/Clegg and Worthington/Quayle, who again took the result on the water. The other fleet battles resulted in Al James/Graham Thomas leading the RS800's while Jeremy Davis/Les Kirby were the front Laser 5000.
Sunday dawned foggy and flat calm but by midday it was clear and the wind followed so two more races were possible. Having told us that the F18 needed 15 knots to beat the 49ers, Jon Worthington pulled off a first on the water and on handicap in a great deal less wind. Buxton/Gilbert won the 49er tussle to end this one 2nd overall while overnight leaders Baldwin/ Buckhouse dropped back with a 5th. Apart from the F18 and the Skiff top places were still 49er filled, down to local asymmetric canoe sailor Rob Bell who got a 7th in winds much more suited to the very large kite being run in.
The final race saw less wind, and Richard Stenhouse completed a solid weekend by winning the last race and thus the meeting. Against the form RS800 visitors Edward Hornagold/Mark Porter pulled a huge lead on the local RSes to finish 4th in the race. The Laser 5000 battle went to Davies/Kirby quite comfortably and the RS800s were taken by James/Thomas.
Pos Boat Type Helm/Crew Pts
1st Musto Skiff Richard Stenhouse 8
2nd 49er Baldwin/Buckhouse 12
3rd F18 Worthington/Quayle 12
4th 49er Burlton/Gilbert 14
5th 49er Dixon/Davies 28
6th B14 Willet/Philips 32
The event from my point of view however was as follows:
Arrived with a good force 4 (gusty as always at Grafham) blowing down the lake from right to left. Initially we weren't sure how we'd fare against the 49ers on the start line, but this was answered very quickly when Tom fell off on the first start, and we then sailed through the fleet to an easy 1st at the top mark. The lead was then extended round the race course till the end. Unfortunately that annoying thing called handicap meant we came 4th and not a convincing first.
This was the general story for the next 2 races that day, but with Tim Swinburn getting to the top mark first on some nice shifts, but once our kite was up the story was over. We again had 1sts on the water but a 4 and 3 on handicap.
Woke up to sunny Grafham under a blanket of thick fog with no wind. It wasn't until lunch time it cleared and we rather reluctantly went on the water in what seemed 5-6 knots. During the race the gusts were a bit stronger, and luckily for us we managed to stay in them gaining our biggest lead yet and even winning on handicap. For the last race it was back at 5 knots, and it took the whole race to get through the 49ers who aren't much slower in those winds, so we scraped 1st on the water but had to settle with a 9th on handicap.
All in all a good event. A good start to the season with practice pushing the boat hard in clear air.