Photo © Catapult Class Association
Seven Catapults came to do battle at the Grafham Water Cat Open on 22-23 October for the deciding event in the 2011 Travellers Trophy Series. Paul Ellis had a 10 point lead over nearest rival Alastair Forrest, who in turn was 10 points ahead of Gareth Ede, TT champion for the past four years. In theory Forrest could still snatch the trophy, but it would require a strong performance on his part and an uncharacteristically poor one by Ellis. In the event it was Ede who put in the sparkling performance with 5 wins from 6 races, pushing Forrest, who suffered a couple of gear failures, into the third podium place. However, this splendid last minute effort wasn't enough to knock Ellis off the top spot.
In Race 1 John Terry got away well at the pin end of the line, with Ede coming up swiftly to take the lead in the fresh to strong gusting breeze. At the first windward mark it was Ede just ahead of Ellis and Terry. Up the second beat Ede got away from Ellis, who in turn stretched his lead over Terry. Meanwhile Stuart Ede gained by going right up the beat to put him on Terry's tail with George Evans pressing hard. These three finished in quick succession in that order, but Gareth Ede and Ellis had first and second places already sewn up.
Gareth Ede got a good start in the middle of the line in Race 2, while Terry won out over Forrest and Ellis next to the Committee boat. Ede led Terry narrowly at the windward mark, but steadily pulled away downwind to take first place. The rest of the fleet stayed close, with Ellis defending third place from Evans and Chris Phillips.
Forrest squeezed out Terry and Ellis at the Committee boat end in Race 3, while Gareth Ede got away fast from the middle, foiling a port tack flyer by his dad. Son and father led at the windward mark from Terry and Ellis, where a collision at the mark between the latter two resulted in Ellis taking a penalty and losing several places. Terry overtook the older Ede to challenge the younger, and these two duelled for most of the race with Terry gaining the advantage upwind only for Ede to take it back downwind and crucially hold it to take first place. Meanwhile Ellis came back fast through the fleet, overtaking Forrest, Stuart Ede and Evans, to take third place behind Gareth Ede and Terry.
In Race 4 Gareth Ede led from Ellis and Terry for the first two laps. On the second downwind lap, Evans spotted that the leaders, who had broad reached well to the right, had slowed in a light patch, so he went down the middle to tuck into second place behind Ede, and they held these positions to the finish.
Starting Race 5, Ellis and Gareth Ede took off fast from the pin end, while Terry was shut out by Forrest at the Committee boat end. Ede stretched out his lead from Ellis for his fifth win, while Terry clawed his way back through the fleet to capture third.
By Race 6 the wind was piping up with sudden strong gusts, which gave some exciting reaches that had to be enjoyed with great care. This time Terry nailed the start and built a good lead ahead of Evans and the chasing pack. In the final lap, Ede, who had been set back by a couple of stalled tacks, fought his way back to fourth place at the leeward mark just behind Ellis and Evans, and then on the final short beat to the line he managed to overtake first Ellis and then pip Evans by a nose to claim second place behind Terry.
Overall Results from Grafham Open:
And so ended the 2011 TT Series, in which 17 Catapults took part and 13 qualified. Gareth Ede's comfortable win at Grafham, with Terry in second and Ellis in third, gained him a valuable margin over Forrest which was enough to take second place in the 2011 TT Series, just 12 points behind Ellis. Ede counted an impressive 11 wins out of 23 races over the season, but he hadn't sailed quite enough races to be able discard a DNC. So, Ellis, who himself has a string of TT victories to his credit in the mid noughties, regained the title with an equally impressive 12 wins from 27 races.
Overall Points for 2011 TT Series: