GP14 Midland Bell at Staunton Harold SC

GP14 Midland Bell 2012 – Event Four
The GP14 Midland circuit travelled to the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border, for an open meeting shared with the Midland Enterprise fleet. Seventeen GPs were on the water as the Race Officer, Tim Grey began what turned out to be a very tortuous start sequence, as first the Ents, then the GPs over-pushed the line to trigger a general recall procedure that bought the black flag out to keep the fleets under some sort of control.

The breeze fluctuated in strength as large rain bearing clouds sped their way across the skyline, frequently breaking sweat over the surrounding landscape; in the squalls the wind maxed at force 4, in the quieter spells, helms and crews both searching for wind.

Right was the key to a good race, the first one led for the early part by Dave Young with Chris Cook at the sharp end of the boat. They pulled away from the fleet, although not enough to guarantee them a race win as hunting them down were Carl Jeffs and Steve Parker, closely followed by Rich Bennett and Sarah Davies.

With the earlier recalls, the mid-fleet Enterprises started to have an impact on the chasing pack as racing throughout the fleets was nip and tuck, both fleets fighting tooth and nail for every position. By the end of the race, Jeffs/Parker managed to squeeze by the leading pair to take the gun, Bennett/Davies coming a close third.

Race two saw a troubled start for several of the fleet. Confusion reigned as sail numbers were called of boats who were adjudged to be OCS, photographic evidence apparently somewhat unsupportive of the claims. Richard Instone was unperturbed by the problems for others, as he along with Jim Toothill up front built an unassailable lead over the rest of the fleet.

They were able to pick their way around the course to take the gun. Dave Young flew through the fleet, as he’d returned to correct his OCS, ending up in take his second - second place of the day. Rich Bennett was able to fend off a firm challenge for his position to take his second third.

With such mixed results from the first two races, there were for a second week in a row, a plethora of potential victors going into the last race. Sam Watson, the current youth champion crewed by Andy Hunter controlled this race from start to … well … almost finish. Their light wind sailing skills got them up the first beat and away with quite a convincing lead, behind them Instone and Jeffs looking to win the event with a good final result.

Jeffs/Parker were able to bridge the gap to the leading boat, taking the lead for spells, dropping behind for others, as the beat and run tactics made a difference in the inconsistent breeze. The key moment of the race came when the OD decided to give the fleet another lap in a dying breeze, a decision that was to cost Watson/Hunter a race win. Jeffs got the lead at the crucial moment, an hour and 20 mins in, crossing the line to take the race and the event, Instone taking a distant third.
Carl Jeffs and Steve Parker won their first event on the Midlands circuit for a few years – increasing their stock for a potential world’s campaign later in the year.

The next event for the Midland GP fleet is on 5th May, the Inlands at Pitsford Reservoir, Northampton, a three day event, briefing at 12.00; first race 13.00 on the Saturday. Entries are open online here. Please note: entries are only open until Wednesday 2nd May. Turn up to enter on the day and the club are extremely likely to refuse entry. I wouldn’t risk it.

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