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RS400 Rope4Boats Inland Championship at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Paul Hilliar 3 Oct 2023 13:33 BST 30 September - 1 October 2023
RS400 Rope4Boats Inland Championship at Grafham Water © Paul Sanwell / OPP

The Rope4Boats RS400 Inland Championship kicked off under sunny skies with a shifty 6-8 knots of breeze.

After a recall, the first race started under a black flag with start line bumper cars and barely avoidable contact putting some contenders into an early spin. Huge first beat wind shifts switched up the pecking order, launching Chris Massey/Charlotte Graham into a giant lead at the first mark. While they were busy extending their lead, the fleet behind were tightly bunched. However, the wind shifts hadn't had their final say and as the leading group closed up down the final leg, Massey/Graham just, just held on from a fast charging (or just plain fast) Ollie Groves/Esther Parkhurst, who were having a final downwind 'getting to know you' session with class LegEnds Nick Craig/Toby Lewis. Amazingly the entire fleet finished within two minutes - some super close racing.

The wind built slightly for race two and Groves/Parkhurst showed the fleet how it was done despite the wind regularly shifting through 30 degrees. This time they were chased by Mike Simms/Jack Holden, who managed to regain their balance after so much first race spinning. Craig/Lewis fought hard for third.

Another notch more wind, so it was now 8 knots gusting 12 but still with massive shifts scything through the fleet. Dave Exley/Alistair Coates showed their faces at the front but behind them it was still super tight in the bunch. Groves/Parkhurst mystifyingly recovered from a first mark spin to storm through and win the race ahead of Exley/Coates. The ominously consistent Craig/Lewis fought their way in third yet again, foreshadowing what would happen the following day.

Most of the competitors rolled out to the local pub for an excellent meal and a friendly social before rolling back into bed to get some much needed beauty sleep for the next day of racing.

Sunday dawned with less sunshine but plenty more wind - now 12 knots gusting 18 and a lot steadier in direction than the previous day. Not content with the previous day's 'getting to know you' session, Craig/Lewis had a good sniff at Simms/Holden at the start, but after some handbags they somehow avoided contact, gave a cheery wave and went on with the racing. Up front, Jon Heissig/Nicky Griffin had clearly had plenty of beauty sleep and were smashing it downwind into the lead, closely followed by Tom Halhead/Paul Hilliar. Huge gusts down the final run splintered the leaders, taking Halhead/Hilliar well clear and bringing the chasing three all into the final leeward mark together - Craig/Lewis somehow squeezing through to second ahead of Heissig/Griffin in a blanket finish.

Into the penultimate race and Sam Knight/Chris Bownes looked to be in a league of their own, sailing into a huge lead until..... Craig/Lewis went from zeros to downwind heroes in one gust that simultaneously buried Knight/Bownes and turned the bunch inside out. Craig/Lewis finally got to hear the winning hooter, with Jamie Morgan/Oliver Davenport playing second fiddle.

Scores on the doors going into the final race meant the overall result was going to come down to a duel between Groves/Parkhurst and Craig/Lewis. Craig/Lewis somehow avoided a last minute change of their mucky mainsail and got on with match racing Groves/Parkhurst for the title. The fleet were treated to the sight of the two fastest boats getting in a proper spin. Groves/Parkhurst got shepherded way over towards the RS200 course while the rest of the fleet got on with the actual race... in which Knight/Bownes and Morgan/Davenport did an absolute horizon job.

Groves/Parkhurst finally escaped the clutches of their adversaries to start the race and they made a great effort to claim the title by sailing fast through the fleet. Close but alas not close enough by only 50 yards, it left Craig/Lewis as the deserved champions.

The Rope4Boats RS400 Inland championship had provided an excellent standard of friendly but tight racing - there were five different winners from the six races. Grafham WSC really delivered at being a welcoming club with superbly run racing, great facilities and on-site camping, which is a massive win and really helps the event atmosphere. Thank you very much to generous event sponsors Rope4Boats and RS400 National Tour sponsors Rooster.

Looking forward to seeing you at the last event on the RS400 Rooster National Tour which is the RS End of Seasons Regatta at Rutland SC 4-5 Nov 2023.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st1500Nick CraigTobytastic LewisFrensham/Burfield SC33321‑1312
2nd1526Ollie GrovesEsther ParkhurstBeaver SC2114‑7614
3rd1535Tom HalheadPaul HilliarLlandegfedd SC47‑1015522
4th1460Dave ExleyAlistair CoatesLeigh & Lowton SC‑88253725
5th1537Jamie MorganOliver DavenportRutland SC1067‑112126
6th1504Sam KnightChris BownesBartley SC795‑104227
7th1550Mike SimsJack HoldenChichester YC92(DSQ)66427
8th1502Jon HeissigNicky GriffinLlangorse SC64123‑17833
9th1400James StewartSam ParkerNetley SC‑1258810334
10th1347Chris MasseyCharlotte GrahamHollingworth Lake SC1149‑2091548
11th1513Neil ParkhurstRichard HanbyBeaver SC11114(UFD)81751
12th1548Mick WhitmoreSarah WhitmoreEastbourne Sovereign SC13136916‑1857
13th1399Richard GrayJon DyasQMSC‑1717111311961
14th1461Charlie ExleyCaroline ExleyLeigh & Lowton SC‑1818167121063
15th1492Martin PentyArchie BurtonBeaver SC51514‑16141664
16th1524Stuart HalmanAnna WalshLeigh & Lowton SC1412‑1915151268
17th1189Steve RestallChris StubbsDowns/Rutland1510‑1814181471
18th1546David NicklinAnne NicklinBeaver SC19‑201717131177
19th438Alastair RimmerCiaran McKettrickBassenthwaite SC/Southport SC1619151219‑2181
20th880Tim Le CouilliardJames Le CouilliardKing George SC‑20161318201986
21st1521Andy PowellChris RolfeWarsash SC21‑2320192120101
22nd747Matt GodboldRichard TurnerBranchaster Staite SC(NSC)21212222DNC110
23rd1382Andrew HuntMatt HuntEastbourne Sovereign SC(NSC)22DNS21DNCDNC115

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