Grand Slam for Hepplewhite and Schooling

Kevin Read reports from the Laser 4000 Open in Bala

Wednesday October 9th 2002, Author: Kevin Read, Location: United Kingdom
Fifteen boats made the trip to North Wales for the penultimate Grand Slam event of the season and were faced with light and shifty conditions.
Race 1 started with Frier & Greer OCS and Gatehouse & Hamilton returning to protect their race. Hepplewhite and Schooling in McCalman Kilts were first around the windward mark, closely pursued by Hodgson and Reed in RSM Robson Rhodes and Alp and Morrison in JAM.

The wind fluctuated in strength during the race, catching the middle order out with a number of capsizes, the lead boats held good however to the finish
Race 2 got off to a clean start which unusually for this fleet was repeated
for the remainder of the event - clearly the normal offenders stayed at
home! Hepplewhite and Schooling lead from the start and developed a large
margin which they maintained throughout the race.

The breeze continued to build, but with no obvious side of the course paying. Robinson & Edwards secured second place with Frier & Greer third.

The third race of the day saw 2002 new comers Wilson & Barker take an early lead which they continued to extend and finished a comfortable first. Behind them, places were exchanged both upwind and downwind between Greer & Freer, RSM Robson Rhodes and Hepplewhite & Schooling. In the final downwind leg, Gemma Greer went right and collected new breeze and finished a satisfactory second with Al Hodgson in RSM just making it on the line for third.

Sunday dawned cloudless with a light North Easterly filling in as the morning progressed. Despite the light winds, the day was to turn into a comedy of errors for the top teams. Race 4 kicked of with a flying start (literally) from Greer & Freer who were being towed to the line within the start sequence. A subsequent protest saw them disqualified for having outside assistance.

Wilson & Barker lead from the start, but unfortunately missed the shortened course flag and sailed to the leeward mark on the last downwind leg, dropping 2 places to third and allowing JAM to finish first with RSM Robson Rhodes second.
Race 5 saw Hepplewhite & Schooling assert their authority again with an early lead which they held on to. The fleet behind battled a close game and played the available shifts to their advantage (or dis-advantage). RSM Robson Rhodes decided they didn't like being third on the second downwind leg and capsized whilst gybing. After blaming each other, Hodgson & Reed sailed backwards to finish down the fleet. Frier and Greer were second with Wilson & Barker third.

The final race proved to be a bit of a lottery as wind became increasingly variable although Hepplewhite & Schooling proved worthy winners with Robinson & Edwards second and Macintyre & Macintyre third.

1st McCalman Kilts - Hepplewhite & Schooling
2nd Wilson & Barker
3rd Robinson & Edwards
4th JAM - Alp & Morrison
5th RSM Robson Rhodes - Hodgson & Reed
6th Frier & Greer
7th Macintyre & Macintyre
8th Annan & Young
9th King & Carr
10th Warner & Warner

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