by James George
Gul RS400 Grand Prix and Northern Tour was hosted by the Royal Windermere Yacht Club. 13 RS400s turned up for the event in the shadow of a terrible (no wind) weather forecast.
Gul RS400 Grand Prix
Saturday began with a mist across the lake and no wind at all. The AP flag allowed the competitors time for a well earned hearty breakfast from the galley and some tuning and fettling with the boats. The AP was dropped at 12:45 and we all eagerly headed south for the racing.
Race one saw the fleet split left and right as we headed off in search of the stronger breeze. John and Jenny Whalley 929 and Nigel and Graham Tullett 669 From RWYC took the far right hand side using local knowledge followed closely by David Exley and Nigel Hall in 1186 which was to pay as we all reached the windward mark. With a split in the downwind legs it was not long before 1186 had taken a convincing lead followed by Wayne and Deb Fletcher in 1029 and James George and Izy Mitchell in 1139.
Sadly for John and Jenny Whalley a slip of the foot in the toe strap saw the loss of Jenny overboard and cheeky capsize followed. The shortened course flag brought a finish for lap three which was unfortunately missed by Exley and Hall Giving first place to Wayne and Deb Fletcher in 1029, second to James George and Izzy Mitchell in 1139. It was only later on the Exley and Hall would realise they had been OCS anyway.
Race two saw most of the fleet head off to the right with Wayne and Debbie Fletcher fighting hard for first place against Stuart and Sarah Robertson in 1319. The Fletchers pushed for the right hand side finding a huge hole in the breeze sending them way back down the fleet leaving 1319 to take a very convincing win. The Fletchers worked back to a solid Second place just ahead of Exley and hall in third.
Race three was delayed under AP while the committee moved the course further south in to a more convincing breeze. The Start once again saw a split in the fleet, with the right hand side proving to be stronger. The windward mark was laid very close to the shore which allowed the fleet to compress and saw a few lucky boats pass by those that had stalled to gain places. It also saw a few interesting sights with the Fletchers in 1029 tethering themselves to the mark and 1139 George and Mitchell colliding with Bill Kenyon and Ben Ditchburn in 725 and Exley and Hall at the windward mark to incur a penalty turn.
Once again the Fletchers pulled it back to take first place with Bill Kenyon and Ben Ditchburn taking a well earned second position just ahead of Martin and Liam Parker in 1298 from Leigh and Lowton in third. In a truly spectacular style Josh Wyke and Will Hall in 1063 sailed the final downwind leg with a rather torn spinnaker but a true determination to get a result. Showing why us Hardy bruits do so well in sailing. Sadly the damage was too great for them to continue to race four.
Race four was to be the last of the day. This time the left hand side was stronger and saw the boats starting at the Pin end gain favour by the windward mark. A condensing of the fleet at the windward mark gave rise to lots of shouting for those boats pushing in on Port. It certainly paid off for the Fletchers who cleared their way in to second place but again for George and Mitchell in 1139 a close call with the Parkers nearly saw a protest.
Downwind favoured the left side of the course with the most ground being taken by Louise Mckeand and her crew Simon Dowse who leapt in to fourth place just behind Exley and Hall in third and the Robinsons and fletchers fighting it out for First and second . Lap two say a split in the fleet at the leeward mark allowing some place changes as this time the right was favoured.
Gul RS400 Grand Prix
With a slightly Cleaner rounding George Mitchell 1139 had gained enough ground upwind to take third spot behind Stuart and Sarah Robinson in 1319 and the Fletchers in 1029. A drop in Pressure in the middle of the race course brought the front runners together apart from Louise and Simon in 1191 who flew down the left hand side of the course hot on the Heels of Exley Hall for a close fought final leg. Wayne and Deb Fletcher took first place with the Robinsons in Second and Exley Hall Pipped both George/Mitchell and Mckeand/Dowse to third place.
Saturday was drawn to a close with some superb food laid on by the Royal Windermere Club and a few cheeky beers in the Hole in the Wall before a very respectable bed time of 11pm for most.
The AP flag was hoisted Sunday morning with glorious sunshine. With the fletchers holding a very respectable three firsts and a second It was the battle for second place which had gripped the next five boats all within a couple of points, calculating the What Ifs on discards.
Following a General Recall, the second start favoured the left side of the course giving advantage to the pin end. The first mark rounding was tight with George Mitchell in 1139 leading the pack.
The first downwind leg was deep with a procession forming on Starboard led by 1139. The fletchers clearly not happy with second place pushed high and accelerated on to the plane, With a text book Jybe and drop the fletchers forced George and Mitchell out at the leeward mark resulting in the spinnaker pole tethered to the left hand leeward mark allowing John and Jenny Whalley 929 and Kenyon/Ditchburn in 725 to pass.
Ross Ryan and Katheryn Hinsliff-Smith decided to take the Right Hand side mark splitting the fleet as to which mark to take. The second upwind leg saw the breeze swing to the left giving advantage to 1029 who arrived first with the Whalley's 929 second
The wind stayed to the left making a fast paced fetch to the left leeward mark good fun. It was the obvious choice for most. The Fletchers Rounded first with John and Jenny in 929 not too far behind and 1139 close on their heels pulling back to third. Bob and Maria Peak Moved up to ninth spot thanks to the wind shift ahead of Duncan and Alex Hodgkinson in 872 and Josh Wike and Will Hall in 1063 with the newly repaired replacement spinnaker.
Ross and Katheryn seemed to disagree with the other 12 boats opting for the Right hand marker placing the further back in the fleet.
With an Early tack on to port, 1139 sneeked ahead of 929 rounding the final windward Mark in second place. The breeze fell away condensing the fleet making for close finishing positions. Once again the race course belonged to the Fletchers taking their fourth first place followed by George and Mitchell taking Second and John and Jenny Whalley in third place.
This was to be the only race of the day. Many thanks to RWYC for another excellent event.