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UKLA Super Grand Prix event at Queen Mary Sailing Club

by Guy Noble 25 May 2021 17:01 BST 22-23 May 2021

When the rough-and-tumble of club racing meets the smooth skills of the super Grand Prix circuit sailors there can be a certain grinding of the gears! And so it was at the UKLA Super Grand Prix event held at Queen Mary Sailing Club on the 22nd and 23rd of May.

What caught everybody by surprise was the sheer volume of entries. A normal regional event would attract no more than 50 boats so a limit of 75 was put on the event. Very soon it became apparent that demand for places had been dramatically underestimated. After some last minute arm-twisting of volunteers (god bless them all) QM delivered, expanding the entry to over 90. Anyone who has done the Bloody Mary knows that Queen Mary Sailing Club is quite capable of putting on events for literally hundreds of boats, but that takes a huge amount of forward planning and an incredible number of volunteers. This was supposed to be a far smaller event.

For those who are not familiar with the subtleties of the ILCA / Laser calendar, the Super Grand Prix are designed to be a notch up from what are used to be called the traveller circuit, now slightly confusingly called the Grand Prix.

Super Grand Prix are the brainchild of Tony Woods. He identified a need for good training for sailors to learn how to race with a bigger and a more competitive fleet. The events are divided into two. A day of UKLA training and the following day a series of races to put into practice what was learnt.

As the weekend approached it became clear that light winds for the Saturday would provide perfect conditions for those a little nervous about racing in a bigger fleet (a review of the training will follow in a few days). However Sunday's forecast looked much more feisty. Although many were looking forward to the breezy conditions other very capable sailors opted to race with ILCA6 rigs.

Forecasts in recent times have been particularly inaccurate. Rumour has it that this is partly due to the fact that aircraft, normally providing enormous amounts of meteorological data, have been sitting on runways rather than whizzing around in the air.

What we actually got at Queen Mary was two days of exceptionally changeable weather. In fact it would be fair to say we had almost everything bar fog and snow.

Although four races were scheduled for each fleet, only three were possible. With everyone set for some serious hiking in a predicted 15 to 20 kn of wind the first race got under way in no more than seven or eight. Condition improve as the day unfolded but rain, massive wind shifts and very chilly conditions tested everyone.

The ILCA7 fleet was dominated by local hotshot Orlando Gledhill taking the first two race bullets and, with a fourth race looking increasingly unlikely, took the series win. Ben Flower retired from the first race after a close encounter with a rather over enthusiastic Queen Mary sailor. Pushing hard in the final two races Ben was only one point behind Orlando. Roger O'Gorman tied with Charlie South for third and fourth with Roger just sneaking ahead of Charlie on count back. A welcome return to racing for Tim Law saw him take fifth.

Sebastian Kemp, also of QMSC managed to secure first position in the ILCA6 fleet just in front of Alistair Brown - both tied on three points Sebastian, again won out on count back. Luke Anstey was a clear 3rd and Master Ian Gregory fourth (another master making a welcome return after recovering from a long illness).

The slightly smaller ILCA4 fleet was won by Antonio Pascali, with Noah Evas second. Imogen Palmer, Anne Friedboug and Edward Day all finished on 8 points but on countback finished 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

Man of the Day has to be Joe Woodley. He brought an old Laser 169XXX and got it racing for under £500. For some odd reason he had several twigs in the holes drilled into the bows (apparently where the semi-permanent fender had been placed by the previous owner). Joe managed to get into the top 10! This just shows that you don't need mega bucks to race.

Ovington, Sailingfast and Southeast Sailboats provided a fantastic array of prizes for the winners. A big THANK YOU to all the team, Tony Woods for organising, Paul and his team for the Race management and all at QM that helped make this such a memorable and enjoyable weekend.

Overall Results: (top five)

1st Orlando Gledhill - QMSC
2nd Ben Flower
3rd Roger O'Gorman - QMSC
4th Charlie South
5th Tim Law - Salcombe SC

1st Sebastian Kempe - QMSC
2nd Alastair Brown
3rd Luke Anstey
4th Ian Gregory
5th Tim Evans

1st Antonio Pascali
2nd Noah Evans
3rd Imogen Palmer
4th Anne Fredborg
5th Edward Day

Full results here...


Sailingfast - Duncan brings his battle buss down from Scotland for most the big events, which is so ridiculously well equipped, you could replace everything on your boat. Although based in Scotland they will get anything to you super fast.

SouthEast Sailboats - Max brings bespoke quality at affordable prices to the class. His passion for detail has made his products a must have for anyone who wants quality. He also supplied many great prizes for the event.

Ovington Boats - Chris Turner lives dinghies and has been a significance presence in the boat building world for decades. OB are now the official UK builders of ILCAs. Thanks for the great caps!

Noble Marine - Ian MacManus (the man behind the name) has crafted a very competitive and excellent insurance product for all Laser/ILCA sailors. A very personal service and a extremely useful website help make this the 'go to' company.

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