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3000 Nationals at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by 3000 class on 8 Jun 2011 29-30 May 2011
3000 nationals at Grafham © 3000 class

Nine boats travelled to Grafham, watching the trees bend double by the side of the motorway. Before boats departed for the race course, the race officer rather optimistically reported a wind speed of 16 knots gusting to 20 at the committee boat, but as everybody launched they were all pretty certain that his anemometer needed recalibration. The figure 35 emerged later - yup, F.7.

One crew's view: Still very blustery, blowy, very, very WINDY! But having come all this way no-one was going to be left on the beach - well, only sensible people. We took our time but decided we had to get out there with everyone else. Wow was that fast! I don’t think I’ve ever sailed that fast before. But it only lasted seconds before the rudder broke and we capsized, or was it the other way around? We spent the next hour getting the sails down (in capsize position) and then floating along waiting to be towed in. As we weren’t in any difficulty we were last on the list of priorities.

Still, it gave us time to watch all the other capsizes and people in trouble. We got a good view of Joe Pester’s shredded jib as he sailed past, jib and main flying free. We found out later that his outhaul had popped out: the bullet had then slipped out of the main and that was why the main was detached. Robin and Pat Shellcock managed a start and a leg, but with one Sedbergh School boat already broken, decided to save the boat for Monday. Nick and Myles were late to the start and found it empty of boats, but set off anyway; having done a lap and a half without seeing anyone else except for 3079 (Chris and Kathy) upside down in much the same place on both laps, they decided to limit boat, body (and nerve) damage by retiring. Our race was abandoned and everyone slowly made their way back to the beach. The Race Officer decided to call it a day, and postpone the remaining races until the Monday. Even a 3000, it seems, can’t really race when it's gusting F7 (for the record, nor can a 4000 ).

Another crew's view: our boat took off like a banshee and just went out of control as we hoisted our gennaker and took off downwind in a cloud of spray that left us completely blind. I was dreading the moment that my helm declared we were going to gybe so was very relieved when he just said, “let’s drop the kite.” We then noticed that the main had pulled out of the track at the top so we went back in briefly to sort that out. As we re-emerged onto the water we noticed that the first race had started so, despite the late start rule, we took off onto the course and completed the first beat with only a few swimming moments. Prudence precluded hoisting the kite for the downwind leg and we just about managed to get down the course, only to capsize near the downwind gate but nothing deterred we got back up and went upwind again. Looking around we couldn’t see a single other boat on the water so once we reached the windward mark for the second time, we bore off and joined the others on the shore.

Shared troubles are always good, so the tales of broken rudders, stocks, torn-apart sails all made some feel quite lightly let off with only their bodies showing signs of wear and tear. Racing being abandoned for the rest of the day, there was time for plenty of repairs and the class AGM to precede the roast dinner and local band who entertained us all evening as the beer ran dry!

Sunday dawned and the wind had taken pity on us and calmed down. The race officer decided to run all five races and the fleets set off. Each race was a 2 lap race around a windward-leeward course. The morning races had decent wind but as we came ashore for a brief lunch, the wind rotated by almost 180 degrees and the race team had to hurriedly re-lay all the buoys leaving us with a rather long and less windy final two races. In detail:

Race 2

The weather was cloudy and dull, threatening rain, but with a good F2-3 wind. All got off to a good start. Peter Heyes and Ali Williams (3602) found themselves in a leading position, with Joe Pester & Paul Murphy (Murph) in 3601 close behind. Joe & Murph caught up and went past as they began the spinnaker leg, they continued to pull ahead and were first to the downwind gate. Tactics came into play as 3602 caught them again upwind, but couldn’t maintain a lead downwind. As Peter & Ali approached the gate suddenly Nick and Myles (3604) were on their heels, requiring all 3602's concentration to ensure they maintained 2nd place.

Race 3

This time the fleet were closely matched on the first beat, but Nick and Myles found more pressure to the right of the course and were first around the windward mark. Joe and Murph were in fast pursuit and a high speed luffing battle ensued down wind; won by Joe gybing off onto a useful header, leaving Nick and Myles in 2nd with 3602 close behind in 3rd, followed by Patrick and Robin (3252) in 4th.

Race 4

At the start, Allan and Gillian (3028) hit a sudden lull and capsized next to the committee boat. Upwind, the fleet Peter & Ali made good headway finding themselves just behind Joe & Murph again, but with a few other boats around them this time, including Patrick and Robin, Nick and Myles. Maintaining position, 3602 pulled away from the fleet and closer to Joe & Murph, but not enough to worry them, and finally managed to hold 2nd place again, with Nick and Myles close behind. After a quick break and a grabbed lunch, all were back on the water for racing to start along with a light drizzle and the wind felt cooler.

Race 5

The legs were much longer this time. More changing of boats and positions. The lower wind and tell-tales glued to the sails favouring sailing skill and patience over age of boat; Ed & Chloe (3181) now threatened the front of the fleet, getting into second around the mark, but caught by 3602 before the spreader mark, by which time 3602 was just behind Joe & Murph again. A bit of a problem with the spinnaker threatened to lose 3602 its position but quickly gybing out of it they pulled away again. Still Joe and Murph pulled away even more so that there was no catching them. On the second upwind leg Ed and Chloe were still close to 3602, who could that see Martin and Max (3608) also had them in their sights. Nonetheless 3602 crossed the line 2nd with Ed & Chloe in 3rd place, Martin & Max taking 4th.

Race 6

A race of patient sitting still and trimming sails for maximum effort had everyone struggling to find the best route up the course. With precious little wind on the way down it was a matter of running as low as possible whilst keep the kite full; positions changing with the wind shifts. 3601 still kept out in front. At the end, 3602 in 2nd could see 3604’s red spinnaker flying not far behind, while Allen & Gillian Bradley took 4th.

Racing at the top had been close although overall Joe and Murph had yet again proved unbeatable. Patrick and Robin Shellcock were awarded the Youth Prize for the second year running, while Ed Walker and Chloe Tucker took 4th place and the prize for the first Laser 3000 overall. In addition, there was a draw for a brand new Mylar jib, kindly donated by 3k builders Vandercraft, which was popularly won by stalwarts Chris and Kathy Williams from South Cerney. Turnout was down this year; was it the forecast, was it the price of petrol or was it the choice of a Bank Holiday Monday for the second day's racing? Nobody knows for sure, but the class is hoping for a resurgence next year.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st3601Joe PesterPaul MurphyUllswater SC-111114
2nd3602Peter HeyesAlison WilliamsWilsonian SC2-32228
3rd3604Nick ArranMyles RipleyCarsington SC323-5311
4th3181Ed WalkerChloe TuckerRutland Water SC-6453517
5th3608Martin BrownMax CastonWilsonian SC45-74619
6th3252Patrick ShellcockRobin ShellcockSedbergh School SC5649(DNC)24
7th3028Allen BradleyGillian BradleyPennine SC77-97425
8th3079Chris WilliamsKathy WilliamsSouth Cerney SC8-986729
9th3253Richard ShellcockMax NicholsonSedbergh School SC9868(DNC)31

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