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Gul RS700 Grand Prix at Weston Sailing Club

By Hamish Griffiths on 22 Sep 2011 17-18 September 2011

The final event of the Gul RS700 Grand Prix circuit took place at Weston Sailing Club on 17th and 18th September in the friendly company of the 600s and Contenders, a very nice combination. There was certainly plenty of weather about and most competitors got into trouble at some stage of the weekend. The GPS tracks of all the races are at www.hamishgriffiths.com so the fun and games are there for all to see!

Saturday saw a blustery F5/6 with a few very stiff gusts to keep us, literally, on our toes. Principal Race Officer Mike Jarman did well to keep the ten contestants in order and got the first race (billed as five laps but shortened to four on the water) off after a brief delay. Jon Heissig and Chris Aston hit the line at speed and looked set to take the beat but Ian Nolan and James Ross tacked off early benefiting from a huge lift up the right hand of the course and rounding the first mark in that order. The weekend’s trouble started at the first LM with even people who should know better taking a dip. Heissig got the best of it and raced away up the next beat very close-hauled, giving up only a knot to ride at least 10 degrees higher than the competition and led at the mark. He held on for the next two laps but a capsize at the last mark let Nolan, who always thrives in heavier airs and had never been far behind, slip through for the win.

Race 2 saw a very close start and tight racing for those who survived three laps. Some of the gusts must have been touching 30kt which proved too much for some. Heissig, Nolan and Ross made the WM in that order but both Jon and Ian went in for a swim before the first gate. There was exciting, close racing on the second lap and Heissig gave a great demonstration of the downwind pace of the 700 in a blow, putting in some 125 degrees gybes and then bearing away at speed for the win.

Rob Jones, who was not on his best form (we all learned a few new words as he rebuked himself) had a great committee boat end start in the third race and at last showed his speed upwind to take the WM being pushed hard by Nolan and Heissig. A ding-dong battle followed to the second top mark which Jon just won. Rob capsized at the top of the run and Jon at the bottom leaving James Ross to nip through for first. Jones did well to recover for third – maybe swearing does help!

Sunday was another day weather wise with very quirky winds and a heavy thundershower or two. Even those who kept their boats the right way up got soaked. Race 4 got away in a fading F4/5. Nolan and Jones tried the right hand side again and were repaid with last at the WM (except for your correspondent of course). James Ross pulled off an impressive slam-dunk tack above Jon Heissig and promptly bore away not noticing the spreader mark, mysteriously 100m or so directly upwind. A sporting hail of “spreader” from Jon sorted that out. James came close to catching him on the second run, gybing early and finding some pace but failed by a couple of boat lengths at the line.

What a strange race the next one was! Ian Nolan had a great pin-end start in very difficult shifty wind and the usual suspects battled it out in the closest race of the regatta. Ross was leading at the start of the second and last run with all the leaders gybing off early. There were some flukey squalls associated with the thunderstorm and no one seemed to want to gybe back. When it came Jon Heissig managed to cross Ian Nolan and made it to the finish just as the wind first veered 180 degrees before dropping completely. Chris Aston, who had been there or there abouts all weekend, took a well-deserved second. The back markers started the last leg fully trapezing with the kite up but were close-hauled, standing on the foredeck by the LM. It was lucky that the clubhouse was nearby or we would have struggled to get home in the flat calm which ensued.

The race officer abandoned the last race giving overall honours to Jon Heissig, second to James Ross and third to Ian Nolan - impressively consistent sailing from all three matelots.

From the speed stats, Matt Conner had a 10 second run at an average 18.35kt – as fast as we’ve seen this season. Jon Heissig managed the “blue riband” 500m at 16.24kt. Look on and weep!

Thanks to Weston Sailing Club who always put on a good show and of course to Gul our generous sponsors.

The next event is the Inland Champs at Queen Mary Sailing Club 8th and 9th October. Be there!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1882John HeissigLlangorse-212115
2938James RossWeston3212-48
3993Ian NolanSnettisham Beach134-5311
4945Chris AstonWeston46(DNC)3215
5905Alan OliveWeston59/DNF(DNC)4523
6949Matt ConnerQueen Mary-8557724
7914Graham BlakeQueen Mary67(DNC)6625
8769Rob JonesWeston(DNF)4310/DNFDNC28
91013Hamish GriffithsQueen Mary7(DNC)68829
10881Jeremy GorboldOxford9(DNC)DNCDNCDNC42
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