by David Innes
The GP14 Southern Travellers Series came to a close at Frensham Pond SC in October. This marked the tenth event held during the year at nine very different coastal and inland venues around London and the southeast.
GP14 Fleet Action
The Frensham event was held in a wildly oscillating wind of up to twenty knots and keeping the boat going upwind in these gusts proved quite a challenge. There were several capsizes (but not as many as in the Enterprise fleet sharing the lake that day!) and early Race 1 leader Mark Wolf and James Ward both lost their way. Mark went on to win the next two races and the event. James was not so lucky and capsized in race 2 and Bryan Taylor (Frensham) and Paul Reeves (Papercourt) took second and third.
The series started back in April with the first of two visits to the Brent reservoir in Wembley; held in very good weather on the Welsh Harp this Grand Prix event produced the largest fleet of over thirty boats with good attendance from the four home clubs and visitors from South Staffs, Tollesbury, Papercourt and Frensham.
This year visitors from the Midlands took first and third with Rob Janering (Wembley) taking second and Richard Lord (Seahorse SC) taking fourth. A second inland event followed at Papercourt in Surrey where Mark Wolf and James Goodfellow / Richard Cornes(Milton Keynes) virtually match raced through all four races with James and Richard eventually prevailing with three bullets to one in the four race meet with Richard Lord taking third.
The next event was our annual visit to Lee-on-the-Solent but due to high winds that prevented launch of the rescue boats the event was cancelled. Luckily compensation arrived the next Saturday with a wet and wild event at Leigh on Sea in the Thames estuary. Wind and rain brought some back on shore quite quickly but the races were completed in impressive style and conditions gradually improved. Mark Wolf won from James Ward with Area Rep Steve Browne taking third place just ahead of local rivals Colin Walker and Steve Corbet both from Leigh on Sea.
The flagship event in July was the Southern Championships run in sunshine and a gentle breeze at the Brightlingsea SC. This was a superbly run grand prix event over two days. The Grand Prix is the GP14 travellers circuit with over ten high quality events around the UK. First southern Boat was James Goodfellow in fifth and Ben Kaplan from Seahorse taking seventh. The usual excellent food and bar at BSC along with their facilities and great weather made a brilliant event that was enjoyed by all.
Next venue was the annual weekend at Poole which is one of the best events on the circuit with a team race on Saturday followed by dinner in the yacht club and a round the cans open meeting on Sunday. Light winds prevailed on Saturday, followed by a brisker force 3-4 on Sunday. A good entry from boats from Poole, BTYC and Seahorse plus Roy Nettleship from Nottingham made up the 22 starters for the first race of the Sunday open. Stung by their defeat in the team racing, the locals ruled supreme with Mike Williams and Andy Macgregor taking first and second for Poole with Richard Lord taking third for the visitors.
Next venue was our annual visit to the River Thames with Hampton hosting an excellent open with a good breeze resulting in good racing for the fleet with Mark Wolf taking first from James Ward leading Hampton crew Kevin and Maddie Anderson in third.
The penultimate event in September was at Tollesbury SC on the Blackwater estuary in Essex. Good spinnaker control in the strong and shifty conditions proved the decisive factor and Mark Wolf confirmed the 2011 series win by narrowly beating Richard Lord.
1st Mark Wolf and Alex Dotsch (BTYC Sailsports)
2nd James Ward and Richard Whitehill (Papercourt SC)
3rd Richard Lord and Lorna Davies (Seahorse SC)
4th Ben Kaplan and Roberto Serra (Seahorse SC)
5th George Rogers and Jilly Wilkinson (Tollesbury SC)
Plans are well in hand for the 2012 Travellers series with the usual mix of sea, estuary, lake and river sailing and an Area championships at a major coastal venue. If things work out to plan we are also hoping to return to Kent for an open on the River Medway. Other GP14 Travellers series are held in the Midlands, North and Scotland and in 2012 we have a World championships in Looe as well Masters, Inlands and Youth championships.
The racing is always keen but the very friendly and social atmosphere and a high standard of racing at the front of the fleet, series trophies for newcomers and prizes for ‘B' fleet entrants at some events so, if you enjoy class racing and want to develop your skills it is well worth considering joining in next year. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.