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06/10/2001
Inland Championships Grafham Water SC

  • Crewsaver EOS Champs
  • 2012 RS EOS Champs
  • Llandegfedd Open 2013
  • RS 10th Anniversary Ball
  • RS200 Eurocup, YC Carnac, May 2018
  • RS200 Eurocup, YC Carnac, May 2018
The 2001 RS Inlands at Grafham Water SC on Oct 6/7 has to go down as one of the most spectacular events this year. One of the worst weather forecasts that could be imagined did not stop 254 boats across six classes entering the event with the Met Office words "expect severe structural damage due to very strong winds" ringing in their ears. Two years ago Grafham Water SC ran an RS Inlands and completed all six races with winds force 5-6 all weekend. This gave everyone the confidence that racing would be run and well organised and, oh boy, Grafham did not let us down. On Saturday the wind was force 4-6 with regular big lumps of force 7. There was plenty of rain but also long periods of sunshine. The classes were split over three courses, the 800/600s were on a trapezoid with the 800s on the inner loop and 600s on the outer loop. The 200/700s were also on a trapezoid whilst the 300/400s had their own course with the 400s doing straight windward/leeward with two leeward marks and the 300s on a triangle with their own leeward mark. The Race Management was out of the top draw with four races completed on all courses in four and a half hours with never a doubt that races were going to be held. The fleets were huge with 65 RS200s, 15 RS300s, 84 RS400s, 45 RS600s, 12 RS700s and 33 RS800s. The sight from the clubhouse was impressive as the whole lake was filled with the three race tracks with superb action and many spectacular capsizes to keep the spectators happy. It is testimony to both the sailors and the boats that well over 80% of the competitors finished at least three races on Saturday in extremely testing conditions. There were a vast number of capsizes but the rescue boats were never stretched with only one mast breakage and only a tiny handful of competitors needing help. Nick Champion had a field day, sunshine, real wind, fleets really going for it and some spectacular downwind sailing. Grafham then showed how good a club they are onshore by managing to serve well over 300 meals in under two hours, Anyone who thought the tired bodies from completing four windy races would produce a quiet night do not know the RS fleet. First part of the evening entertainment was the GUL RS Racing Circuit and RS Eurocup prizes giving. Compere Pete Vincent destroyed the reputations of many leading helms by introducing prize winners by projecting slides of their most embarrassing moments on to a large screen much to the delight of the large crowd. This was followed by a great band; at midnight as they were making their third attempt to finish you would not have believed that only a few hours earlier those demanding more could hardly stand from the sailing. Sunday saw slightly different race organisation with club racing using a course area the RS fleets were rotated on two courses. The day began with a force 4 wind, but it started to rise steadily during race 2, with race 3 seeing winds well over 30 knots. As the forecast was for a severe force 9 to arrive on Sunday afternoon the final 200/700 start was abandoned. The squall promptly eased, and the Race Officer went for another start. Although the wind was around a force 5-6, the remaining fleet raced extremely hard. An hour later the forecast force 9 arrived, producing large waves on the lake along with hard, driving rain. Good timing! RS200 65 RS200s produced a spectacular and extremely close fought Inland Championships. The fleet showed just how exciting a boat the 200 is, and the competitiveness of the fleet. Race 1 showed how important it was going to be all day to time your gybe onto port into the big gusts. Tom Hewitson/Lizzie Humphries timed their move correctly on lap 2 and disappeared in a huge ball of spray into a huge lead. Hewitson had seen 5 laps on the committee boat and started lap 4. Behind them, however, the leading pack had spotted the blue flag showing on the Committee Boat indicating the finish line was open. Chris Howarth/Ian Robertson crossed the line first but were disq OCS, hence Ian Pickard/Laurie Dunn won with Pete Vincent/Trudie Danbury making it a Bristol 1.2 with Steve Dunn/Lucy Davey third. Hewitson came back to finish 16th. A request for redress later produced the fact that the whole fleet had in fact finished a lap early and the blue flag was up for the 700's. A sensible Protest Committee gave Hewitson first and let all other results stand. Race 2 saw Buzz Keck/Pippa Williams have a spectacular start and have a good lead. Jon Lewis/Paula Hall produced a fantastic second run, never coming off a full plane the whole length to take the lead. Pressed hard by the "lardy heavyweights" they sailed well to win with Keck/Williams second, Penny Mountford/Karen Main third and Dunn/Davey fourth. In Race 3 Steve Dunn had the best start and had a good lead at the first mark; a big gust allowed boats 2-6 to quickly get very low. Dunn/Davey gybed across to get into the gust to find it missed him and went round the next mark 15th. This then became Vincent/Danbury's race, always in the top three they took the lead on the second run and won by a good margin, with Hewitson/Humphries second, Mountford/Main third and Lewis/Hall fourth. Race 4 was a difficult race to lead as very patchy big gusts descend on the course area. Paul and Suzie Hammett led but capsized gybing in a big gust. Mountford/Main then had the race tied up with a good lead but capsized hoisting the kite in a huge gust. The race featured a huge squall on the third run; most competitors claimed this was the fastest they had ever been in a 200. Dunn took his chance and won the race from the consistent Hewitson, Paul and Caroline Fisk and Andy Beston/Gary Russam fourth. It was a very shattered but extremely happy fleet that then went ashore having completed four great races in really testing conditions. Overnight Vincent, Dunn, Lewis and Hewitson were split by a point overall. Sunday saw the 200s out for first race of the day with a slightly more moderate force 4. Mountford/Main took the lead early and this time there was no mistake as she left Hewitson, Lewis and Vincent to have a close battle. Lewis again showed a class downwind act to claim second with the rock solid Hewitson third with Colin Staite/Jo Beston just piping Vincent for fourth. With one race left Lewis and Vincent had to win to take the title from Hewitson. The race nearly did not happen as the final 200 race was race 3 of the day and the wind had slowly been rising. As the fleet arrived at the starting area the wind went over 30 knots; boats were capsizing everywhere and the 800/600 course became a spectacular sight as helms fought to keep their boats under control. The Race Officer, fearing the arrival of the forecast severe weather abandoned the start. The squall then eased and many 200s stayed out to go for a blast. The Race Officer then brought the depleted fleet back out and a race was held in a force 5- 6 with the leading boats really racing hard. Mountford again jumped straight into the lead and was never seriously challenged. Hewitson kept a close eye on Lewis who in turn carefully covered Vincent. Hewitson finished third with Lewis fourth and Vincent sixth. This was more than enough to give the new Hewitson/Humphries team overall victory. Outside the leading boats overall the Hammetts showed real speed at times whilst Chris Howarth was frequently well to the front but many too many wet ends. Andy Beston had four top ten results but suffered from counting a disqualification. Chris Jenkins, Chris Darling, Charles Roome, Paul Fox and Ralph Singleton scored very useful results without breaking into the top five but were always putting pressure on the leading boats.
Overall RS200 Results 1. Tom Hewitson/Lizzie Humphries RNCYC 10 2. Jon Lewis/Paula Hall Burghfield 14 3. Penny Mountford/Karen Main RNSA 19 4. Pete Vincent/Trudie Danbury Bristol CYC 19 5. Steve Dunn/Lucy Davey Stewartby 28 6. Ian Pickard/Laurie Dunn Bristol CYC 34 7. Chris Jenkins/Rachael Jenkins Frampton 35 8. Colin Staite/Jo Beston Bartley 63 9. Chris Darling/Helen Toms Itchenor 64 10. Buzz Keck/Pippa Williams Hayling ISC 66
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