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Gill International Moth Inland Championship at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Kyle Stoneham 10 Jun 12:23 BST 8-9 June 2024
Gill International Moth Inlands at Grafham Water SC © Paul Sanwell / OPP

The weekend saw 16 diehard mothies travel up to GWSC to join 2 locals for the well forecasted Inland Championship. For those that couldn't make it, the FOMO will have set in hard at a particular family wedding, on some keelboats and at a children's birthday party.

Saturday morning was greeted with a pleasant westerly breeze where most of the fleet rigged near the camping area sheltered by the clubhouse, this ramped up quite spectacularly during breakfast and with just 1 hour until start time the highest gust of the month was recorded at 30knots, let's say the queue for the toilets was longer than usual.

There was not much time for people to change to windier weather kit if you didn't already have it up which turned out not to be a problem as it dropped right back down to 10 knots by the first race - conversely if you put your small rig up an hour ago you might not be feeling so good at this point...

Race Officer Chris Clarke got race 1 under way exactly on time, with a fairly short line and a pin biased everyone was keen to get off cleanly and tack in the pressure asap, the left turn windward mark has a spreader which was laid to 10m to leeward to keep some separation between upwind and downwind boats without adding a reach in the powerzone. Hisocks lead around and down to the bottom gate where the left turn was favoured most of the day. Simon maintained this position for both laps into the finish followed by Hivey, Alex Adams and Matt Lea.

The sequence for race 2 began soon after the 15 minute finishing window had closed. There was plenty of jostling for position with James Phare finding himself a little high in the box with a monster gust, thus reaching along the line at 28 knots, the round-up was spectacular although he wasn't on the boat for it.

Stoneham lead around the windward followed by Hiscocks downwind, not quite making the left turn from a poor lay line and light patch going right turn allowing Simon to take the left mark in clear air to the favoured side of the course. All following boats did the same thing, the left side of the course was dead and finishing order Hiscocks, Hivey, Joe Adams and Matt Lea in 4th with Adam Golding notably having a very good 8th place in this one.

The breeze was certainly up and down coming in 10-15 minute waves and generally shifting to the right. Pressure built again between race 2 & 3 allowing the race committee to reset the course and get another start sequence under way in good wind.

Race 3 saw a similar chain of events with Stoneham leading to the windward except this time there was some congestion from the mark laying boat blocking the tack bearway, Hiscocks approaching from the right got a nice slingshot through this gap just leading downwind, breeze had flicked back towards the left so right turn was favoured at the bottom, both boats took this option and were evenly placed on the 2nd upwind with Stoneham choosing to tack off first. Simon went a little further and lifted nicely to the top on port making some good gains. Race finished Hiscocks, Stoneham, Alex Adams, Gareth Davies.

Into race 4 sequence the course had been extended slightly although the breeze had dropped down just after, with 8-10knots across the course, most boats managing to start on the foils, Simon, Hivey and Alex demonstrating their skills to link the patches of pressure together and keep it up to the top mark. Whilst the front 3 had broken away it was evident there was tight racing in all parts of the fleet Gareth Davies, James Phare and Doug Pybus trading places all day long and having some great tactical battles in these tricky conditions. The order stayed the same with Joe Adams taking a well deserved 4th place.

The breeze established itself in the NW as the fleet came ashore with some boats deciding to stay out and have a blast making the most of the champagne conditions that had evolved. Most of us were keen to have a cup of tea.

Notable performances on day 1 - from Matt Lea on his discontinued Rocket platform which he has done a really neat job converting to take Exploder foils with significant gains on display. Alex Adams who rigged for the 30 knots but made his kit perform well downrange and avoid any shockers. Joe Adams bringing his Oxford Sailing Club inland skills to the shiftiest races. Dave Hivey for being in the right bit of the lake almost all of the time, keeping himself in touch in the overall points.

That evening we enjoyed a meal and a few drinks at the club overlooking a sun-kissed lake, wandered down to the Pub for some more food a little later and additional drinks, all very civilised before heading back to the club campsite. Great fun everyone hanging out like that actually.

Day 2 saw another pleasant morning, forecast to be similar to day 1 but less gusty. Needless to say nobody was putting up their windiest kit again after yesterday. Coffees at the vans then an early rig for everyone ready for breakfast when the Galley opened, the race course was looking beautiful with windmills spinning on the horizon.

Race 5 got under way at 1030 in a westerly 10-14 knots, Stoneham made it cleanly off the pin and lead into the windward mark, let's say the mark laying boat was again positioned for a great view of the mark. Hiscocks took full advantage with a clean tack bearaway and the pursuit began with both boats separated by a handful of metres all the way around and into the finish. Plenty of action happening behind with Alex Adams pipping Hivey for 3rd place.

Race 6 and the breeze was going even more left, a lot of boats found themselves too low in the box during prestart Simon recognised this with a minute to go and did 2 lowriding tacks to get closer to the line, Stoneham nailed the pin and took a nice lead out to the left before finding an almighty hole that was a good indicator for everyone else to tack. Simon lead to windward followed by Matt Lea, Hivey and Gareth Davies who all managed to avoid that corner. Stoneham was playing catch up after that big loss and raced back to 3rd at windward on lap 2 for a final downwind drag against Matt Lea into the finish. Winner Hiscocks, Stoneham, Lea, Hivey.

Race 7 and breeze was still in the left, the startline was tricky to cross with Davies, Lea and Stoneham opting to start on port. The pin got congested very early so the port boats all ended up towards the committee boat. Hiscocks got off on starboard and tacked cleanly whilst Stoneham had gone out to the far right and made his tack, Simon got to the windward first and both boats went downwind side by side, Simon held a better line into the leeward mark and controlled the next upwind leg taking the win closely followed by Stoneham with Hivey and Alex Adams making up the top 4.

At this point Hiscocks had won the event with a race to spare, a tremendous display of Inland sailing, race craft, boat positioning and handling, thoroughly deserved.

Race 8 was the last of the event and increased to 3 laps as we were all having too much fun. The breeze was holding in nicely from the left and the Port start was the choice again for a handful of boats including Hiscocks who tacked over last minute to start on port. The right side of the course had more consistent breeze and Simon lead around windward followed by Hivey, Alex Adams and Joe Adams. With 3 laps there were gains to be made by boats that had started badly and leads to defend by those that had got off well. No surprise that Hiscocks took the win followed by Hivey, Stoneham and Alex Adams.

Prize giving was in the café.

Most Improved: Orkun Soyer
Tryer trophy: John Evans
1st Exocet: Phil Rees
3rd Overall: Kyle Stoneham
2nd Overall: Dave Hivey
1st Place/Inland Champion: Simon Hiscocks

Great event and we can't wait to come back, many thanks to Gill for sponsoring and to GWSC, the volunteers and race committee for putting on a fantastic weekend of racing. Many lessons learnt across the fleet ready to put into action for the Nationals, taking place at Restronguet Sailing Club in Cornwall between the 11th and 14th July.

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