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4000 UK Series at Queen Mary Sailing Club

by Fran Howell 13 Nov 2015 15:21 GMT 7-8 November 2015
4000 UK Series at Queen Mary © Alex Irwin /

It had been several years since the fleet visited Queen Mary reservoir, and the last event of this year's series was set to be a truly international affair, including teams from France and Belgium.

We arrived on Saturday to be greeted by rain and gales, giving ample opportunity to chat to old friends. This situation also helped our French visitors Michael Duflos and his crew Anthony Scouarnec (veterans of several 4000 Euro cup events) to make the start of racing! Michael had already driven to Portsmouth to buy his latest boat before towing it straight to the event.

By 2pm the wind still showed no sign of moderating, so race officer Andy Peters scheduled an extra race for Sunday morning, starting at 10 o'clock. Remembrance Day dawned with much more benign conditions, and the fleet launched along with the 2000 and RS400 fleets.

Andy set 3 laps of an excellent course, utilising the best area of the lake in the F 3 south-easterly breeze. John Reynolds and Fran Howell (4682) had spotted better wind towards the left-hand side of the course, and with a slight port bias on the long start line, were keen to start near the pin along with Michael and Anthony.

The strategy paid, and after working the shifts up the left-hand side of the beat, by the top mark John and Fran had built a comfortable lead which they retained for the rest of the race. After the minute's silence, race 2 began, and this time Steve Cockerill, sailing with Alex Cramp for the first time due to wife Sarah's injury, made good gains further right on the course, spotting all the best patches of wind, and showing why he is this year's UK series champion. He won this race easily, followed by local boat Neil and Charlotte Heffernan (4343).

During the day several crews attempted to abandon ship in the gusty conditions. Heading downwind in race 2, John and Fran found themselves sandwiched between Neil Davies and Sarah Edwards (4400) to windward and an RS400 below them. Fran was almost lost overboard, being towed alongside the boat, barely able to hang on to her trapeze handle with one hand, let alone scramble back on board; John meanwhile was unable to dip the windward wing or pull her back on board for what felt like an eternity.

Anthony had a similar experience being washed overboard on a 3-sail reach. He is used to gybing at lightning speed with his more usual helm Cedric Gendron, and crossed the boat a little too quickly for Michael. However, he is a lot younger and stronger than Fran, so was able to pull himself back on board relatively quickly.

Jo de Fleury's classic moment on 4572 was caused by inadvertently hooking onto the elastic instead of the trapeze ring (easily done!) after a tack; the shock cord broke and she went straight into the drink, just clutching the jib sheet, but was able to scramble back over the transom. It is a credit to the general standard of helming in the 4000 fleet, that none of these incidents resulted in a capsize.

By race 3 the wind had built to a gusty F 4-5, and the race officer set a gruelling 4 laps. The French team of Michael and Anthony in the new yellow boat (4317) were now coming into their own, relishing the stronger wind conditions. They took the bullet, ahead of Steve and Alex (4862), with Neil and Charlotte just pipping John and Fran into 3rd place. They could so easily have taken race 4 as well, had their strop not broken after 3 laps which took a couple of minutes to fix, allowing Steve and Alex through to take the final honours.

Thanks to Queen Mary's for putting on a very enjoyable meeting, with efficiently run races and good support for launching and recovering boats.

More photos of the event taken by Sportogaphy can be found here.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st4862Steve CockerillAlex CrampStokes Bay SC‑21214
2nd4317Michael DuflosAnthony ScouarnecCentre Nautique d' Arradon‑33126
3rd4682John ReynoldsFran HowellGrafham Water SC1‑7438
4th4343Neil HeffernanCharlotte HeffernanQueen Mary SC‑62349
5th4546Tim LittMatt BarkerRutland SC(DNF)45615
6th4572Richard de FleuryJo de FleuryYorkshire Dales SC55‑7515
7th4400Neil DaviesSarah EdwardsDatchet Water SC466(DNC)16
8th4423Trevor PeirceElena PeirceSaint Florent Corsica79(DNF)DNC26
9th4467Martin BurgessTom BurgessBough Beech SC(DNS)8DNFDNC28

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