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Graduate Northern Championship at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club

by Bob Murrell 13 Aug 2023 09:03 BST 5-6 August 2023
Graduate Northern Championship at Bassenthwaite © Bob Murrell

A select group of eight Grads entered the Graduate Northern Championships which were held over the first weekend of Bass Week.

The line-up included local teams and Bass regulars Chris & Chloe Parker, Mike Fairlamb and Jack Hardie, defending champions Guy Wheeler & Elaine Ross who were keen to repeat their success from 2022, Tim, Kaz & Riley Hand who were back in their Grad for the first time in 2023, Richard and Jane Thorpe and Simon & Moses Forward both Toddbrook wanderers and also Bass regulars plus long distance travellers Bob & Maggie Murrell bringing G3026 to their third Northerns event and Emma Robertson & Carl Weighill teaming up in "Lucky".

The format was 4 races, 2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday which on paper made for a fairly leisurely event. However, with well over 200 entries across the various fleets and the racing restricted to the North end of the lake due to the unusual Northerly wind directions, the action on the water was anything but relaxed. This was after having to negotiate launching from a lee shore with all the trolleys piled high on top of each other. Ric and Cally Lewis had ventured up for the weekend as interested spectators and were a great help when the Grads were trying to get on the water.

With the normal Bass start sequence of 2 minute intervals couple with a short line pressed up against the West shore just down from the clubhouse and the number of boats on the water, there was little room for manoeuvring behind the line. Just as the Grads teed up for their first start of the series a GP14 decided to join the party and promptly sailed along the line causing chaos. After extricating ourselves, the fleet followed the Lasers from the previous start and wound its way around a cats-cradle of a course made all the more interesting by the faster boats reaching through at speed. From all of this Chris & Chloe put down their marker by coming home first, with fine showings from Guy & Elaine, Mike and Jack were close behind in third.

After a prolonged "lunch" break waiting for the back markers from the slower fleets to finish, it was back to fighting down the slipway and finding a quieter spot for the trolley. Safely back on the racecourse, happily the wind had veered more to the North and so the repositioned start line was slightly easier but still tight. Richard & Jane and Bob & Maggie showed early form only to come to a dead stop behind a wall of Lasers parked at the windward mark. This allowed those behind to skirt around the logjam and scamper past. Mike and Jack shot away closely followed by Richard and Jane who finished in that order. Chris & Chloe were best of the rest which meant that they were tied on points with Mike and Jack overnight.

Sunday morning saw an earlier start and a dramatic shift in wind direction from Saturday, almost by 180 degrees. Launching was even more fun as the wind had strengthened and the direction change resulted in a dead run once the crews had leapt aboard to head out to the start line on the East shore. With 160-plus boats all trying to see the course board on the committee boat the start area was again extremely congested especially as some of the later starting slower boats were reluctant to be too far from the action. The Grads had a good get away although the various fleets soon got mixed up, with the asymmetric 400s and 200s criss-crossing on the downwind legs. This race saw a lot of place changes and also some interesting mark roundings which shook things up nicely. Tim, crewed by Riley, fought his way through to take well deserved line honours with Emma and Carl finding the right lines on the beats to come home in an impressive second place. Chris & Chloe were keeping their title chances alive with a solid third just ahead of Mike & Jack.

After another long lunch ashore the crews headed out to the racecourse with all to play for at the sharp end of the fleet. The wind had strengthened and was the strongest of the weekend at the start of the race. Chris started next to the committee boat with Bob & Maggie tacking soon after the gun to follow him around the windward mark, both crews well clear of the chasing pack. However, once again the Lasers were lying in wait on the next leg and Bob & Maggie found the way to the second mark effectively blocked off. Chris & Chloe managed to get an inside line, keeping a good lead. The chasing Grads arrived once most of the Laser dam had burst and rounded leaving Bob & Maggie to pick up the rear. After this the wind gradually eased almost dying to nothing and the chasing fleet drifted up towards Chris & Chloe, Mike & Jack at one point almost gaining the lead. However, it was to be Chris & Chloe's day taking their second win of the series to secure the Northern Championship for the first time. Mike & Jack were second overall and the Hand family third.

Many thanks to Bassenthwaite Sailing Club for hosting the Graduate Northerns with their customary slick race organisation, social events and excellent catering.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4Pts
12839Chris ParkerChloe ParkerBassenthwaite SC13315
23007Mike FairlambJack HardieBassenthwaite SC31426
33001Tim HandKaz/Riley Hand 47149
43018Guy WheelerElaine RossAnnadale SC24539
53013Emma RobertsonCarl WeighillToddbrook SC652512
63004Richard ThorpeJane ThorpeToddbrook SC627715
73026Bob MurrellMaggie MurrellChipstead SC766618
82896Simon ForwardMoses ForwardToddbrook SC888824

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