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GP14 Midland Bell open meeting at Staunton Harold Sailing Club

by Charles Saunders 27 Apr 10:07 BST 23 April 2022

Well the forecast was fruity and proved to be absolutely accurate for the second Midland Bell event of 2022 held at Staunton Harold on St.George's day.

Appropriately our Race officer was George Crammond who sent eight teams from four clubs out on to the water to slay the weather dragon. The wind direction was close to ideal, being in the North East and blowing straight over the dam wall. After a clean start the fleet split into three distinct groups, the two Gold fleet boats having a battle of their own at the front, with the four boat Silver fleet having an almost separate tussle behind.

The first course was a straightforward windward/leeward beloved of asymmetric sailors, so what's in it for GP14s? In the strong and gusty conditions we experienced, sailing dead downwind was distinctly risky, so plotting a course as an asymmetric spinnaker boat would, was much more comfortable; the tactical options then being when and where to gybe to reach the leeward mark - not everybody got it right every time and boat righting technique was tested under the watchful eyes of the safety crews.

The race ended with Graham Fynn & Frank Nickless (Chase SC) getting the bullet, closely followed by John and Jack Telford (Bassenthwaite). Darrell Sleep & Charles Saunders (SHSC) finished in third and we all returned to shore for a well earned lunch.

During lunch it was clear the wind speed had increased, so only seven GP14s and two Miracles (sharing the event with us) braved the conditions. Race Officer George Crammond set a more conventional course with distinct gybe marks this time and the tactical questions downwind were then to fly the spinnaker or not, and whether to gybe or tack round at the gybe marks to avoid a time consuming capsize.

After a messy start, the fleet split as before, the Gold fleet gradually drawing away to sort out line honours between themselves, the rest of us concentrating on staying upright, not always successfully - once again the Safety teams had some entertainment. The finishing order for the top three was the same again, with John Robinson & Grahame Smith (SHSC) taking fourth spot again.

The club weather station had by then recorded the 30 knot gusts exactly as predicted by the forecasts.

The final race was sailed back to back, with a minor course change and only the lower positions at stake. Five GPs and one Miracle participated - once again the two Gold fleet boats headed off but this time the Telfords were ahead from the start and looking good to take a race win - alas, they came a cropper on a three-sail gybe so had to settle for second place again, being pressed to the line by Sleep & Saunders.

Places 1 to 4 were the same in all three races, but that belies the excitement that was had by all in very testing conditions, only the winners not practising their swimming at some point during the day.

Event winners were Graham Flynn & Frank Nickless from Chase SC, in second were John & Jack Telford from Bassenthwaite, with Darrell Sleep & Charles Saunders in third. Bronze fleet was won by Lesley Freeman & Nick Harrison from Trimpley SC.

At the prize-giving Graham thanked the Race Officer, Safety and Galley teams and all the sailors for taking part in a well run, enjoyable and testing event.

Next Midland Bell event is on Sunday 8th May at Midland SC in Edgbaston, Birmingham - their water is back, don't miss it!

Overall Results:

PosFleetSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3Pts
1stGold14199Graham FlynnFrank NicklessChase SC‑1112
2ndGold14261John TelfordJack TelfordBassenthwaite‑2224
3rdSilver14072Darrell SleepCharles SaundersStaunton Harold‑3336
4thSilver13785John RobinsonGrahame SmithStaunton Harold‑4448
5thSilver13263Dave BeecheyBen RobertsTrimpley Sailing Club5(DNF)510
6thBronze12170Lesley FreemanNick HarrisonTrimpley Sailing Club75(DNF)12
7thBronze13377Peter JohnSusan WebbTrimpley Sailing Club(DNF)6DNF15
8thSilver13975Simon FletcherJohn CooksonTrimpley Sailing Club6(DNF)DNF15

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