Bollé RS Vareo Grand Prix and Welsh Champs were held at at Llandegfedd SC where it blew and it blew and it blew. Sensible competitors stayed away in droves! Even local sailors were saying they would not have sailed for ordinary club races. Saturday was Force 4 or 5, gusting 6 or even 7 in a few blasts.
RS Grand Prix Series
A true windward leeward course was set by Mark Williams and Nigel Tinkler as Race Officers. The target for each race was limited to 30 minutes, which was more than enough for some competitors. The 'A team' was in attendance, Andrew Davies and Andrew Davison from Tata, Alex and Andy Howard from Llandegfedd, and some others with different names. The starts were very well mannered, no one wanted to stay out longer for recalls, but the beat was very competitive with boats crossing tacks on the windshifts and having to tack off due to opponent’s pointing ability in the fierce winds. At the top mark there was limited enthusiasm for spinnakers, notably the leaders used them, only to be overtaken later by those more cautious, who did not capsize. Many were not gybing if in the grips of a Force 6/7 gust, but tacked around which gave a better chance of non-horizontal masts.
The first race saw a well controlled win from Simon Collinson, pushed by Andrew Davies from Tata. Alex Howard was chased by Jeremy Symons. Andy Howard and Andrew Davidson straggled in a little behind, both having had serious swims. It is also not easy to sail with the tiller extension bent through 45 degrees!
The second race saw even more wind, and we found that Vareos go even faster than we knew. It felt as though only the rudder was in the water, occasionally. After a battle up the first beat, Andy Howard and John Regan led at the first mark – showing the youngsters how to sail. Davies found a better gust on the run, overtaking, and continued to impress his mark on the racing. Andy stayed in front by using the spinny once only, not gybing it and being generally cautious. Jeremy continued going to windward at the top mark. He is climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of the Air Ambulances next week, and wanted to maintain fitness and some strength for that effort. (Contact him to contribute please)
The third back-to-back race followed a similar pattern of hard beats, wild runs and a mix of caution and swimming. Andy H retired with a missing mainsheet block when lying second, letting son Alex take the baton and eventually the lead. Simon was second, Davidson third, with Davies fourth after a swim.
Sunday was a whole new day, only slightly less wind. The direction was near due west, giving slightly cleaner wind as there was less of a hill in the way. Sunday we all used the spinnys, nearly all of the time. Simon set off as he meant to continue, winning with a clear lead. Andrews Davies and Howard followed closely together, divided by choice of gust and gybe direction downwind.
The middle race on Sunday was split by a windshift when the fleet was going upwind. A close pack on the first lap suddenly had a clear leader at the second windward mark, with Andy over 200 meters in the lead. He was half way down the run, gybed by the time the rest of the felt had borne away at the top! Simon continued to show mastery of the windy conditions, followed closely by Davies.
The final race was greeted with relief by the weary sailors. Simon took the lead straight away, and kept it from start to finish. Andrew Davies chased manfully, but did not catch up. Behind them, Howards A and A had a battle for 3rd place, never really in doubt that Alex would win this one, but only by a few yards.
The racing was surprisingly close considering the winds we endured. Simon beat the A team.
RS Grand Prix Series