by Pete Barton
Following the wet and windy winter, the RS fleets congregated at Grafham for their Winter Championships. The wonderful early forecasts proved true with 20 knots winds over Grafam’s silky smooth water coupled with 16’C temperatures and wall to wall sunshine. If we have those conditions all summer we wouldn’t complain!
RS800 Winter Championship 2014
Well over half the fleet has now adopted the new racy looking square top mainsails with their go faster national flags. In 20 knots their appeared no difference in speed around the course with Phil Walker and John Mather proving very capable of matching the square tops for speed. However in the lighter parts upwind the square tops would appear to just have that little bit more grunt with their long powerful leaches capable of accessing extra gears.
James Date and Toby Wincer (RWO) laid down their marker for the season on Saturday, getting to grips with the Grafham shift pattern, with three firsts. Closely behind them was Hugh Shone and Fiona Hampshire with three seconds demonstrating the courage to split away with an early gybe whenever a Graham Growler was blasting down the shoreline on the right.
However it was all change on day two with the top six all politely taking turns at the front. James and Toby did their best to snatch defeat after Roger Philips and Will Crocker hit form smashing home two firsts in Sunday morning's slightly lighter 15knot breeze to take it to a tie break. Peter Barton and Chris Feibusch (Crewsaver, Phase2) gained form over the weekend to win race 6 (you are only as good as your last race...) and came back to third overall. An unlucky final mark tangle cost Hugh and Fiona a few points to take fourth overall. Luck and Emma McEwen (Gill) were probably unlucky to finish fifth after trading places at the front of the tightly packed fleet in every race. Phil and John hammered it home on pressed screaming reach out of the corner of the course to take second in the final race and sixth overall showing the old mains can still hold their own when the surf is up.
'We were a bit crap today' summed up James and Toby’s lacklustre Sunday morning performance. An elated Chris Feibusch exclaimed he was 'delighted to finally pop his RS800 race win cherry' (as is customary, Champagne is on him at the next event), but apparently that is not a first for him at Grafham. Well done to Peter Saxton and his Graham SC team for the great racing and prompt race turn arounds.
Click here for results
Next up is a large dose of the more wobbly and salty stuff at Stokes Bay on 12th/13th April. Bring it on!