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Rope4Boats RS800 Inland Championship at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Hugh Shone 3 Oct 15:15 PDT 1-2 October 2022
Rope4Boats RS800 Inland Championships at Grafham © RS Class Association

After news that the water level at Grafham was touch and go, I have never been so pleased to aquaplane my way North on a Friday night. Thankfully the lake had enough in it to host all the fleets and although there was a bit of a squidgy, sloshy, oozey through toe mud situation in order to launch (which let's face it you'd probably pay hundreds for at the local spa) we were on!

The forecast for Saturday was pretty fruity with up to 25kts and breezy it was! It was the kind of wind that instantly highlighted how you'd cut your mainsheet too short. With gusts pumping down the lake in anger it was no surprise to see the more experienced teams of Tom Morris & Guy Fillmore and Luke & Emma McEwen duelling with each other at the front. Tom & Guy did take all three races from the McEwens in the end but it was definitely not plain sailing as Tom & Guy had to continually fend off the ominous black kite of the McEwens.

Behind the front two who extended in each race it was a battle between Fred Lord & Louise Gale, Martin Orton & Ian Brooks, and Ralph Singleton & Nuala Sellwood. All seasoned campaigners with enough experience to get themselves round in good order. In that Saturday battle it went the way of Fred and Louise who posted three solid third places in the very challenging conditions. This got them an early mud drenched toe in the top three.

Further back there were a few promising moments from Fiona Hampshire & Hugh Shone who did show some speed on the first beats but a broken rudder stock in the first race and some regular baths put pay to Fiona's pre-race capsize prediction.

With everyone ashore the fleet was treated to a "Tom Morris Race Clinic" which will become a more regular fixture for open meetings. This one saw a run through of how Tom and Guy have calibrated their set-up and pointers on the amount of tension required. It must have been decent as despite the heavens opening midway through, the fleet listened on intently. For those who were unable to make it to Grafham, the session was recorded and the plan is to release it in the near future on the class's new YouTube channel.

Right. On to the organised fun. Hugh and his glamorous assistant for the evening (Tom) treated a captivated and bemused audience to a series of bar game adventures. It was feared that the heavy wind sailing might deplete the turnout but it turned out that people clearly hadn't been trying hard enough on the water as eight highly competitive teams of four exuberantly skied, sucked, tossed and tied themselves with much gusto.

Mind you, the new "Social Conch Trophy" was there for the taking and boy did Peter and James Curtis absolutely smash it as 'The Professionals'. First of all, their team selection was on point after pairing up with some handy looking 4000 sailors lurking in the shadows. Secondly, they showed remarkable consistency over the three events to take a commanding victory. Jealous that they have some seaside on a stick on their mantelpiece? Well the Conch will be back in play at the Spring Champs next year...

Sunday morning and talk in the club centred on the wonderful 8-14 knot forecast and deliberations as to whether airbeds should come with a recommended beer consumption guide. Yes they should. On the water it was clear that the conditions were fabulous and the racing was going to be much closer. The day was all about trying to stay in the bands of pressure that snaked their way down the course.

Race one saw Tom & Guy lead round the first mark with Martin & Ian hot on their heels. Spotting a gust, Fiona & Hugh in third gybed out to overhaul the front two and hold their lead throughout the race with Tom & Guy finishing second and Martin & Ian doing enough to hold off the late charging McEwens.

Race two again saw an early battle develop at the front between Tom & Guy and Fiona & Hugh. This time however the McEwens didn't leave their charge so late and went through Fiona & Hugh like an old halyard through the clothes of four scantily clad bar gamers (had to be there I guess). The McEwens pushed but Tom & Guy held onto the win whilst Fiona & Hugh took third.

Whilst Tom and Guy had wrapped up the win (and headed in) and the McEwens were solidly second, there was a lot to play for in the battle for third going into the final race. It looked to be a three horse race between Fred and Louise who held a slender advantage, Martin and Ian, and Fiona and Hugh.

However, at the top mark it was Joshua Poat & Robbie Cherry who hooked into a decent band of pressure and led the fleet round with the McEwens hot on their heels. Over the four laps the McEwens built a large lead only to almost lose it all on the final leg to a charging Fiona & Hugh. The wind had got really streaky by this point leading to some extremely tense downwind legs.

Martin and Ian took third, and Peter & James Curtis (conch heroes / apex humans) took a fantastic fourth with Fred & Louise popping up in fifth. This meant that Fiona & Hugh squeezed into third by the skin of their teeth, with Fred & Louise tied on points with Martin & Ian. Bryan Ormond & Anna Prescott showed real resilience to scoop the Endeavour prize whilst Ralph & Nuala swooped to take the mid-fleet hero prize.

Many thanks go to our wonderful sponsors Rope4Boats and Rooster along with the club for running a fantastic weekend of racing for the fleet.

You can watch a Shorts video about the event:

Next up we have the Harken RS End of Seasons Regatta at Rutland Water on the 5th & 6th November. We are excited to say there will be more fun and games scheduled, more opportunities to learn with another Race Clinic and of course some fantastic racing! Online entry is open.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1144Tom MorrisGuy FillmoreHISC11121(DNS)6
2nd1220Luke McEwenEmma McEwenRLYC222‑4219
3rd1231Fiona HampshireHugh ShoneSwanage SC(DNC)6613218
4th1224Fred LordLouise GaleCarsington SC333‑55519
5th1204Martin OrtonIan BrooksChichester YC5443‑8319
6th1166Ralph SingletonNuala SellwoodRestronguet SC455‑84624
7th825Peter CurtisJames CurtisGWSC(DNC)9776433
8th820Bryan OrmondAnna PrescottQMSC77‑1097838
9th1188Debbie ClarkDaniel GoodmanQMSC8(DNC)DNC610743
10th1239Joshua PoatRobbie CherryHISC(DNC)108109946
11th1099Alistair HodgsonElla SpainDraycote WSC689(DNC)DNCDNC47

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