With the forecast for overcast skies and 8 knots dropping to 3 knot winds, many hardcore sailors hit the motorways to burn off their Christmas excesses. Thirty-three boats took part in the fast handicap event at the Grafham Grand Prix this year - sailed in a format of two races, length 50 - 60 minutes for each with times based on average laps to obtain the result.
166 boats representing more than 70 clubs, sailing in four classes (fast, medium, slow, single handed) turned up to Grafham Water for the Grafham Grand Prix. The Fast handicap was the biggest class with twn B14s followed by eight RS800s. Final victory went to Howard Steavenson and Adam Ovington in an International 14 who just saved their time on Mark Barnes and Peter Nicholson leading the B14s
The fleets launched into a south-westerly 5 – 7 knot breeze. The Fast fleet were first away and with the breeze swinging 10° to port one minute before the start, the pin paid with boats at the committee boat end being rolled by the mid to bottom end of the line boats. At the pin it was B14 758 (Tim Harrison/Johny Radcliffe) and a gaggle of RS800s that led.
However, with enough breeze to make the ‘T’ foil on I14 1522 (Howard Steavenson/Adam Ovington) work, they where to give a demonstration of just how quick one of these machines can go on flat water.
The leading group consisted of 49er 898 (Tim Saxton/Coin Rainback), F16 553 (Simon Longstaff), I14 1522 and Shadow 66 (Tim Swinburn), chased by the group of RS800s and B14s led by RS800 864 (Chris Webber/David Steed), RS 800 964 (Charlie Roome/Steve Hall), B14 777 (David Hall/Phil Eltringham – Ovington Boats) and 776 (Dick Roe/Kate Dulieu).
With the front 4 stretching out their lead, the group of RS800s and B14s chased hard. After 4 laps, the shorten course flag was raised with 49er 898, F16 553 and I14 1522 leading the fleet home. In the following group, there was little to pick between the RS800s and B14s. At the finish on handicap it was I14 1522 followed by B14 776, B14 768 (Mark Barnes/Peter Nicholson – Seavolution/Blue Marine), 49er 898 and B14 777.
After a break ashore for lunch, the fleets launched to resume racing in a dying breeze of 6 knots or less. For race 2 the line was square to the wind, the emphasis was on getting a clean start. Mid line it was 49er 898 and I14 1522 but at the pin was won by RS700 815 (Nick Miller) who led out to the left followed by several B14s and RS800s, with the bulk of the fleet going up the middle following 49er 898 and I14 1522.
Again the leading pack were the same four boats but this time closely followed by B14 768 and RS800 964 who in turn were followed by a close group of 10 boats comprising of RS 800s/B14s and Musto Skiff 209 (Tom Wright). As the race progressed the breeze gradually dropped and 49er 898 maintained a sizable lead on the other boats.
B14 768 and RS800 964 who were swapping places but never more than four boat lengths apart throughout, overtook the cats keeping I14 1522 in their sites, but in the dying breeze, it was not to be with 49er 898 winning on the water, followed by I14 1522, B14 768, RS800 964 and B14 776.
On arrival ashore, the question was who had won. Race 1 had convincingly gone to I14 1522, but race 2 was up for grabs. However, with the dying breeze, this had saved the I14’s handicap and given the team a well deserved two bullets followed by B14s 768 and 776, 49er 898, B14 758 and B14 777.
The race and shore teams ran a well organised event both on and off the water. Fast Handicap - Final positions (33 entries)
1st Int. 14 1522 Howard Steavenson Adam Ovington Tynemouth SC 2
2nd B14 768 Mark Barnes Peter Nicholson Whitstable/Brightlingsea 5
3rd B14 776 Dick Roe Kate Dulieu Great Yarmouth and Goreleston SC 6
4th 49er 898 Tim Saxton Coin Rainback Grafham Water SC 7
5th B14 758 Tim Harrison Jonny Ratcliffe Burnham SC 13
6th B14 777 David Hall Phil Eltringham Thorpe Bay YC 13
7th B14 775 Chris Bines Dave Gibbons Brightlingsea SC 13
8th RS 800 864 Chris Webber David Steed Oxford and Cambridge SC 19
9th Laser 4000 4682 John Reynolds Fran Howell Grafham Water SC 20
10th B14 770 Simon Hadley Tristan Hutt Marconi SC 21
11th RS 800 964 Charlie Roome Steve Hall RYA/Northampton SC 21
12th Musto Skiff 209 Tom Wright Rutland Water SC 23
13th B14 773 Nick Craig Tom Gillard Fencham Pond 24
14th RS 700 815 Nick Miller Grafham/Marconi 31
15th AC 288 Richard Hudson Bough Beech SC 32
16th RS 800 800 Ian Martin Adam Broughton Bough Beech SC 32
17th B14 654 Daniel Cowin Rachel Bennett Ely SC 32
18th B14 688 Brian Whitmey Jon Hill Bough Beech SC 34
19th Laser 5000 5249 Mark Rushton Nicky Rushton GWSC 41
20th Shadow 66 Tim Swinburn Grafham Water SC 43
21st B14 680 Guy Humphrey Gary King Grafham Water SC 43
22nd RS 800 803 Ben Schooling Jo Hermer Grafham Water SC 46
23rd F16 553 Simon Longstaff Grafham Water SC 47
24th 49er 606 Richard Leech Andrew Dean Grafham Water SC 49
25th RS 800 868 Joel Walker Sarah Crossman Weston SC 49
26th Laser 5000 5287 Craig Johnson Gareth Lincoln Bury Lake Young Mariners 51
27th Laser 4000 4471 Mark Sewell Chris Sewell Teesdale SC 51
28th Shadow 12 David Lowe 56
29th RS 800 1077 Alex Ford Philip Oestreich Tudor SC 59
30th Nacra 500 3844 Mark Fowler Gary Fowler Grafham Water SC 60
31st Shadow 30 Chris Pilgrim Rutland Water SC 61
32nd RS 800 940 Brian Briggs Laurence Riches Grafham Water SC 64
33rd RS 800 1114 Tom Halhead Christian Humphrey Bristol Corinthian YC 76
33rd Laser 5000 286 Murray Quinney Nick Anderson Grafham Water SC 76
33rd Int. 14 1525 Dennis Watson Nikita Carpenter Helensburgh SC/GWSC 76
33rd 49er 43 Ben McGrane Olivier Vidal CVLSC 76
33rd Musto Skiff 288 Andrew Peake Eastbourne 76 Report/Results of other classes - http://www.sail-world.com/indexs.cfm?nid=40404