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Graduate Northern Championship at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club

by Bob Murrell 13 Aug 16:50 BST 7-8 August 2021

The Northerns have been part of the Bass Week scene for the past few years. Following the hiatus for Covid in 2020, the small but enthusiastic Grad fleet were itching to get going again this year.

With a break from the normal schedule, the Northerns were part of the second weekend so that many of the crews had had some exiting racing in the Bass Week slow handicap class prior to the event, posting some impressive results in this mixed fleet racing. Tim Hand crewed by grandson Riley just pipping Chris Parker and daughter Chloe in the first weekends racing, both crews continuing to do well in the midweek races.

The weather forecast for the weekend was for lighter winds on Saturday increasing on Sunday. However, being the Lake District, local conditions are unpredictable and this was especially the case on Saturday morning. The forecast force 2 gusting 3 turned out to be more like 5 gusting 6, conditions which suited Chris & Chloe and also Grad newcomers Greg Thomas & Abi Hodge.

The race committee got the fleets away with admirable efficiency considering the conditions. Greg & Abi and Chris & Chloe showed how it should be done as they made their way around the racecourse pulling away from the remaining Grads. The chasing pack was also close together. Richard & Jane Thorpe were going well, opting to keep close to the western shore where they found some lifts trading tacks with Maggie & Bob Murrell who were also looking for quieter conditions again the shoreline.

Greg & Abi led into the windward mark near the eastern shore closely followed by Chris & Chloe. All crews then enjoyed the spectacular planing reach directly across to the western side of the lake. Greg & Chris continued to swap the lead but Greg & Abi held on to take the gun with brave skilful gybing around the final couple of marks.

After a (rainy) lunch stop the fleets found the wind had moderated a little, the ranks being swelled by local team Joan & Jack Hardie in their newly acquired G3007. The Thorpes had a clean get away before Chris & Chloe established an early lead. With the wind easing to a more manageable level Bob & Maggie broke through to lead at the second windward mark.

They maintained this advantage for a couple of legs before Chris & Chloe eased their way past downwind gaining an inside advantage at the Southern buoy of the SON sequence. The Parkers found the correct lifts on the final beat with Bob & Maggie losing their way also allowing Greg & Abi through, Chris going on to taking his win of the day.

Tea and cake, then back out on to the calmer water as the wind had dropped considerably. With pulses of heavy rain showers the race committee decided to have all the fleets restricted to the clubhouse end of the lake. Richard & Jane again had an excellent start towards the pin end of the line and opted towards the eastern shore with Joan & Jack just behind. Bob, Chris & Greg were spread across the middle to western side of the first beat. Chris & Chloe pulled out a large lead but as the race progressed they were overhauled by the lighter Murrell & Hardie crews.

The race was shortened to give Bob & Maggie their win of the day, just holding off Joan & Jack who had been gaining on the final tight reach.

With different winners for each of the three races it was all to play for in the final race on Sunday with Chris & Chloe the overnight leaders. The Grads had four boats in the top six of the slow handicap fleet.

The weather forecast was predicting 30 knots of westerly breeze for Sunday possibly holding off until the afternoon and so with the last starting sequence of the meeting at 10.30 calmer conditions were possible. As the boats made their way to the start this was the case but the wind was building, gusty due to the direction. The course was again restricted to the clubhouse end of the lake giving the spectators a grandstand view of proceedings.

Chris & Chloe made a solid start and pulled away from the pack, Greg & Abi close behind. Bob & Maggie weren't handling the gusty conditions well and dropped back through the fleet. The Thorpe and Hardie teams had close racing with David Ivins & Alexis Johnson in the mix, all boats keeping close together on the compact course.

In the increasing wind there were exciting planing conditions, the fluky beats suiting Chris & Greg who were swapping the lead.

On the final beat to the Northern buoy of the NOS sequence the Parkers broke free but then the rain squall hit, dampening the waves and reducing visibility. Greg & Abi took full advantage of these changeable conditions, short tacking to catch the Parkers and then gain an inside at the Northern buoy.

With just a short way to go to the line Greg took his second gun giving him the Northerns title and also winning the slow handicap weekend series. Chris & Chloe had to console themselves with runners up prizes from the sponsors, and Bob & Maggie were third overall.

A big thank you to the Bass Week team for organising and running another very successful week in difficult circumstances. The Grads all enjoyed the close racing, variable conditions and great hospitality.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
13018Greg ThomasAbi HodgeSSC / WLYC12514
22839Chris ParkerChloe parkerRya21325
33020Bob MurrellMaggie MurrellChipstead33157
43004Richard ThorpeJane ThorpeToddbrook844311
53007Joan HardieJack HardieBass882414
62878David IvinsAlexis JonhsonBolton456615
72896Simon ForwardMoses ForwardToddbrook SC567818

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