2017 GP14 Inland Championships
It was another successful Inland Championships for the GP14 Class with over 30 boats making the trip to Bassenthwaite Sailing Club on 06 and 06 May for the third event of the Craftinsure Super 8 Series.
With a strong gold fleet and stronger winds predicted it looked set to be a closely fought fight out for the top spot at the Gingerboats sponsored event.
Race 1 started in a F5 gusting 6 with everyone chomping at the bit as usual and an inevitable recall. It looked like business as usual for Mike Senior and Chris White (South Staffs SC) as they took a dominant lead. The shifty conditions, however, took a few casualties including Mike and Chris with John Hayes and Poppy James (Southport SC) profiting to take the win with Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter (Snettisham Beach) second.
The award for quickest to break their boat went to the Bolton boys Gary Deighan and Dale Knowles who managed two legs of the first race before a rudder issue ended their championships before they had begun.
Andy Smith and Phil Hodgkins (Bassenthwaite SC) were dominant in Race 2 leading the whole way through and taking the win with Fergus and Andy second. In the only protest of the weekend, Mike Senior protested the winning pair for over a mark rounding but the result stood.
Race 3 was a close between Fergus/Andy and Andy/Phil with Fergus and Andy winning leaving Andy wishing he’d covered Fergus up the last beat.
At the end of Day 1 Fergus and Andy were the overnight leaders with Phil and Andy second and Dave Lawson and Joe Roberts (Bassenthwaite SC) third. Frank Nickless and Michelle Evans (Chase SC/South Staffs SC) lead the Silver Fleet and Alan Jones and Sue Watson (Bassenthwaite SC) lead the Bronze Fleet.
With Fergus and Andy sailing superbly and the kings of consistency it was looking like Day 2 would be a battle for places two to five.
The original forecast of F2/3 was well out with the first race starting in a F4/5 and more shifty than the day before making it seem like a lottery getting the beats right. The starts throughout had been quite biased on the line which was cause of quite a lot of chaos, in particular Race 4, when a boat was tacked onto port on the line causing Val and Ken Bell (Bassenthwaite SC) to capsize almost on top of Dave Young and Nic Booth (South Staffs SC).
The wind dropped half way through but there were still some massive slammers coming through one of which appeared to knock John Hayes clean out of the boat, luckily for him the boat stayed upright and they still managed an eighth. The race was won by Fergus and Andy with Dave Lawson and Joe Roberts (Bassenthwaite SC) posting a second and putting them neck and neck on points with Andy and Phil.
Race 5 took a few attempts to get going and Dave and Joe were out OCS. It was battle of the Midlanders after that with Mike and Chris taking their first race win from Richard Instone and Steve Parker (Blithfield SC) with their best result of the event.
By now Fergus and Andy had an unassailable lead so it was the battle for second place and with Andy and Phil being on the wrong end of every shift and near the back they went in and Dave and Joe claimed second with Andy and Phil third. Neal Gibson and Geoff Phillips (Redoubt SC) won the Silver Fleet and Val and Ken Bell won the Bronze Fleet.
Speaking after the event Joe Roberts, Sailing Secretary for Bassenthwaite SC, said: “Bassenthwaite SC was delighted to welcome back the GP14 association and host their prestigious Inlands. Our lake delivered champagne conditions with championship-specification wind shifts! Six nail-bitingly tense races ensued, and I’m reminded of how close and enjoyable GP14 racing is. A special weekend.”
The event also gave an opportunity for five graduates of this year’s E Howard-Davies GP14 Youth Training Week to put their skills into practice. Clearly the week-long course at the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre had paid off for newcomers to the fleet Oliver Goolden and Pierce Cook (Covenham SC). After only recently started sailing at GP14 they finished first all youth boat and 20th overall. Winning crew of race 5, Poppy James, was the first female crew and fifth overall. Ben Swainson, was recruited by Justin Smith (Tynemouth) the night before the event and finished 9th overall while young helm Ralph Haliburton Chaplin finished four out of the six very tricky races.
The next event of the Super 8 Series is the Scottish Championships at Annandale Sailing Club on 20 and 21 May.
The Desperado Diaries
With the Rum Punch ditched for something more accessible in local sailing clubs, the non-official sponsor of this year’s social reports has changed to the quaffable Desperados. Although it was the Cheeky Vimtos that went down a storm in the wee small hours of Sunday morning but that comes later….
With an abundance of camping and close B&Bs the Inlands promised a good social with plenty taking advantage of the nice weather and stopping both nights. Trying to sleep through what sounded like a hurricane on Friday night built the anticipation as the bleary-eyed revellers awoke on Saturday morning. The wind wasn’t quite a terrifying as I thought but there were several of us propping up the bar by 4.30pm on Saturday, mine was with relief but for others it was out of pure exhaustion and I think my helm had finally sobered up by that point so he was in need of a beer!
The meal on Saturday night was perfect as it met our criteria of being plentiful! Hotpot, pudding and an extensive cheese board was hoovered up by the hungry competitors.
As the event was sponsored by Gingerboats not only did we get a suitably ginger water bottle to take home but we got a special ginger quiz. Having been on the winning team for the quiz at last year’s Nationals I was eager for another taste of victory and by the luck of proximity assembled a crack team of two gingers (well one blonde-ish Geordie with ginger stubble), one boat builder and a Championship Chair.
Thinking I’d got all bases covered we struggled our way through the GP14 Club anagrams round, failed to correctly answer a question about the location of a previous Worlds and failed miserably to guess the sail area of a GP14 main sail, even though one of us should have known! We were saved though by the special round all about gingers as Justin Smith excelled in his knowledge about Phil Hodgkins to give us the win. We celebrated with ginger nuts (the biscuit that is) and Cheeky Vimtos (the alcoholic version that is) and swapped sailing stories into the very early hours. If it wasn’t for Phil being a bit of a lightweight and closing the bar at around 2ish I think some of us would still be there!
Reports by Michelle Evans