Dinghy

Grafham Grand Prix

The 2012 Grafham Grand Prix managed to complete its two races on Sunday with 147 boats competing and the weather co-operating to give sunny conditions mixed with a good breeze and some super strong gusts.

Corrected Results - Leaders of the various handicap fleet were:
Fast Asymmetric - RS800 1116, Neil Ashby and Sam Proctor, Shoreham SC
Medium Handicap - Fireball 15085, Thomas Gillard and Simon Potts, Sheffield Viking SC
Slow Handicap - RS200 481, James and Will Rusden, Royal Lymington YC
Single Handed - Laser 202146, Jack Witherell, Beaver SC
Fast Cat - Inter 17 XL, Neil Klabe, GWSC
Medium Cats - Sprint 15 1957, Thomas Sandal, GWSC

The 145 that got out of bed early to brave the conditions would be rewarded with a spectacular day’s handicap racing. The average wind strength might have been in the late teens to early 20s, but it was the severity of the gusts - up to 35 knots - that provided the real test. There were capsizes aplenty although, amazingly, no broken masts.

The Grafham Grand Prix is the third of six events in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series and after this event Peter Neilson (RS600) leads, second is Craig Williamson (Laser) and in third Mike Sims (Solo).

Three days earlier at the Brass Monkey at Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club, Tom Gillard and Simon Potts had already demonstrated their mastery of ‘strong and gusty’ in their Fireball, winning both races that day. The Sheffield Vikings followed up with two more bullets at Grafham Sunday, with the Fireball teams dominating the Medium Handicap Fleet. Runners-up were Dave Hall and Paul Constable who have been sailing together for more than 25 years, and in third were Richard Cornes/ James Goodfellow. Peter Nelson was best of the rest in his RS600, followed by a 505 and a gaggle of Merlin Rockets.

Laser national champion Jack Wetherell also did well at the Brass Monkey, finishing runner-up to Gillard’s Fireball. Sunday in the Singlehanded Fleet the young Wetherell beat 62 entrants to win his division. After the first race he was in a dead heat on corrected time with Radial sailor Jon Emmett, each sailor scoring 1.5 points. But in the next race the Weymouth veteran had to be satisfied with 2nd place to Wetherell’s first, giving the young Laser sailor from Beaver overall victory. Behind that duel, next best was Michael Sims’ Solo in 3rd place.

The 45-strong Slow Handicap fleet was one of the closest fought, but it was James and Will Rusden who came out on top with scores of 4,2 in their RS200. None of the front runners actually won a race. That honour went to Joe Sharp and William Russel in a Bosun, but a 28th in the next race put them out of overall contention. Instead, race 2 victory went to the Scorpion sailed by Tom Castle and Tim Hartley. However in 2nd overall it was two other Hartleys, Richard and Mark, who sailed their Wayfarer to a 2, 5 score, equal on points to a 420 but beating Ben Hazeldine & Rhos Hawes on final-race countback.

In the Asymmetric fleet Neil Ashby and Sam Proctor from Shoreham scored a solid 2,1 in their RS800, winning by a point from race 1 winners in a 29er, Ed Connellan and Matthew Rhodes from Middle Nene. Third was Ian Martin in a Musto Skiff, who edged out former world silver medallist in the 49er, Rick Peacock crewed by Nick Murray.

The next event in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series takes place on Saturday, 12 January 2013, with the pursuit race classic near Heathrow Airport, the Bloody Mary.

Andy Rice
30 December 2012 15:27 GMT


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