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Rope4Boats RS400 Northern Tour at the Great Northern Asymmetric Challenge

by Hamish Gledhill 16 Apr 07:10 BST 13-14 April 2019

Fifteen RS400s joined a fleet of 27 boats for the Great Northern Asymmetric Challenge (GNAC) at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club, which was also the second leg of the Rope4Boats RS400 Northern Tour.

A moderate but cool breeze from the south-east was forecast, but as the fleet rigged on Saturday, a stiff breeze with white caps on the water to match the spectacular backdrop of a snow topped Skiddaw, had teams dropping holes on their shroud plates faster than Tiger Woods was dropping balls into holes at Augusta. The fresh breeze with a punishing schedule of 4 back-to-back races for Saturday afternoon, would take its toll.

The fleet set off in solid F3/F4, but as the afternoon wore on the gusts increased to F5/F6. Whilst the sailing was spectacular the gusts were isolated, with some 30 to 40 degree shifts, which kept everyone on their toes, and meant no matter how bad your position was if you kept your head there were chances to climb up the fleet. The racing was tight with no boat dominating from the front and staying there, but Richard Catchpole and Gary Coop (Leigh and Lowton SC) performed a masterclass in the challenging conditions to take RS400 line honours in each of the first three races, with scores of 1,3,1 in the overall GNAC event. Behind them Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse (West Riding SC) battled it out for the places with Chris Pickles and Mark Lunn (Bassenthwaite SC), with Phil Murray and Neil Schofield (Tynemouth), and Barrie Thornton and Nick Hunt (Scaling Dam), all taking a turn at the front of the fleet.

With most of the fleet taking a dip in the chilly Bassenthwaite waters the number of boats on the starting line in the last race had reduced considerably. Hamish and Simon took the line honours ahead of Chris and Mark, with Mark Somerville and Joe Roberts (Bassenthwaite SC) nursing their borrowed boat over the line to be third RS400. Mark and Joe certainly took the award for tenacity for the day as their borrowed boat had more gear failures than a Madonna performance at the Brit Awards, resulting in spectacular results. Barrie and Nick came close on the spectacular front with Barrie sneaking off the back of the boat without informing Nick with the expected consequences.

At the end of the first day Richard and Gary sat at the Top of the leader board, with Hamish and Simon, and Chris and Mark close behind.

The sailors licked their wounds over a hot meal and the necessary liquid amber pain relief, before the RS400 northern fleet wished Bill Kenyon a special happy birthday with various forfeits resulting in Bill looking like a member of the Hair Bear Bunch who had been playing in the make-up cupboard. If that wasn't enough the less weary then competed with more energetic friends, families and spectators in 6 hard fought rounds of indoor games. Needless to say, not many 400 crews were present on the podium for that event.

Next day dawned calmer, although the forecast was similar to the previous day. Sure enough half an hour before the start of the first of four more races, the fans turned on from a slightly more Easterly direction. The wind was certainly down a notch or two from the previous day, but the first sorties in the toe straps were greeted with moans and groans as the fleet were re-introduced to yesterday's aches and pains.

Chris and Mark were quickly into gear to win the first, ahead of Hamish and Simon and then Richard and Gary. It was the last race win for a 400 in the overall GNAC competition as the final races were won by different classes, adding to mystery of what the overall placings look like. In Race 6 Jacob Ainsworth and Kayleigh Roberts had their turn at the front of the fleet before the tiller extension parted company from the boat, leaving Hamish and Simon to finish first RS400 ahead of Chris and Mark. Positions were swapped in race 7 with Chris and Mark taking line honours ahead of Hamish and Simon.

By the start of race 8 any of three RS400s could win the overall event, with an RS Feva also in the mix. After a consistent morning Richard and Gary were back at the front of the fleet, rounding the last windward mark ahead of Hamish and Simon, just ahead of Chris and Mark. The outcome of the whole weekend rested on the last down wind leg. Richard and Gary went the tried and trusted route left, Hamish and Simon saw shadows on the water that took them right and Chris and Mark took a more central route. The wind had died somewhat from the earlier gusts and one well timed plane to the finish line would be enough. Each boat had their 'this is it' moment, and it was Richard and Gary who took the line and worthy overall winners ahead of Hamish and Simon and Chris and Mark.

At the prize giving Richard thanked Bassenthwaite Sailing Club for a great weekend. A Rope4Boats £20 voucher was won by Phil Murray from Tynemouth Sailing Club and a Rope4Boats £10 voucher was won by Jon Abbatt from Ullswater Yacht Club.

The next event on the popular RS400 Robe4Boats Northern Tour will be the Northern Championships at South Shields Sailing Club on 11/12th May.

Short videos on Twitter at

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
1st1396Richard CatchpoleGary CoopLLSC1315345214
2nd1407Hamish GledhillSimon DowseWest Riding Sailing Club21221523515
3rd1283Chris PicklesMark LunnBassenthwaite SC35.542132615
4th1254Phil MurrayNeil SchofieldTynemouth498768101442
5th1437Barrie ThorntonNick HuntScaling Damdnf4681668.51244.5
6th703Mark SomervilleJoe RobertsBassenthwaite Sailing Club517DNC4121641051
7th669Jacob AinsworthKayleigh RobertsSouth Shields7779141212951
8th874Jon GayAmanda HendersonLochaber81012121514.56856
9th603Alex LeonardBen MurrellBass SC913510DNF118.5dnf56.5
10th1257Mark DingsdaleSteve Super Crew BlackburnLeigh & Lowton SC131610DNC10714DNC70
11th810Richard FaheyJonny HollidayTynemouth Sailing Club1815DNCDNC1818DNCDNC125
12th1112Jon AbbattNicola AbbattUllswater YC16dnfDNCDNC1719DNCDNC136
13th664Phil DavenportIzzie HunterBass SC15dnfDNCDNCDNFDNCDNCDNC155
14th1069Chris MulhollandCatherine MulhollandUllswater YC20DNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC160
15th1401Bill KenyonBen SwainsonBudworth SCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC168

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