by Bill Tucker
The final event of the UK 29er Harken Grand Prix series was held at Pwllheli Sailing Club on the weekend of the 27th-28th of October. The 31 boat fleet was met by strong winds for the whole weekend.
2012 29er Harken Grand Prix Series 8 at Pwllheli
Saturdays racing was held in challenging conditions with cold northerly winds blowing straight off the shore making it very shifty and gusty. The first race saw a light patch on the mid left of the course splitting the front of the fleet on the first beat. Murray Hampshire and Chris Brewer took first in this race making the most of the unpredictable conditions and sailing the best tactical race. Race two was won by Curtis Mearns and Jamie Catchpole who favoured the breezier conditions.
Race three was won again by Murray Hampshire and Chris Brewer who took advantage of a big left hand shift on the second beat and Ed Connellan and Matthew Rhodes took race four doing a great job of staying in the breeze as other boats fell into a hole downwind. The overall results after Saturdays racing saw Murray Hampshire and Chris Brewer in first, four points ahead of Gillies Munro and Daniel Harris who sailed a very consistent first day.
The second days racing was held in big waves and stronger winds with the wind coming from the west and was dominated by the Scottish boats with Gillies Munro and Daniel Harris taking two firsts in the first two races one of which was a one-two with fellow Scots Rory and Neil Hunter who also had a third and a fifth. Going into the last race Murray and Chris were neck and neck with Gillies and Daniel but disaster struck for the Scottish team managing to anchor themselves on the pin end of the start line after playing risky starting strategies all day, one of which involved crossing the whole fleet on port tack. Murray and Chris, despite a capsize on the first upwind leg, sailed a great race to take the win.
The overall standings saw Murray Hampshire and Chris Brewer win overall on count back after ending up on equal points with Gillies Munro and Daniel Harris. Rory and Neil Hunter were third overall. Two Scottish boats in the top three highlighted the excellent job Matt Thomas has done coaching the Scottish team over the past year. Ruth Allan and Alice Masterman were first girls team favouring the breezier conditions, sailing some excellent races on the Sunday and finishing sixth overall. First juniors was won by Rowan Edwards and Daniel Blight coming seventh overall and beating Luke Berry and Henry Morley to the title.
Rob and Emma Loveridge took the overall win in the Harken Grand Prix series after sailing a brilliant season and getting very consistent results throughout the year. The race committee did an excellent job for this event getting all seven races in efficiently with no postponements or any other difficulties.