2016 GP14 Masters and Youths Championships Report

GP14 Masters/Youths

A beautiful summer’s day at the Welsh Harp, twenty-nine boats gathered to contest the 2016 GP14 Masters/Youths Championships over the weekend of 16 and 17 July. The weed boat had seen more use in recent weeks than the mowers at nearby Wembley Stadium and the lake was clear of vegetation. A perfect wind direction, Westerly F2-3 down the length of the lake.

With 3 boats entered for the youth championships, the race committee decided to start the fleets together. The favourable wind direction allowed Race Officer Brian Jefferies to set a figure-of-eight course, a long beat and run with short reaches across each end of the lake to join the dots.

A black flag was required to temper enthusiasm at the start of race one. Frank Nickless and Adam Froggat were first round the windward mark and had established a clear lead by the end of the first run, the following boats edging to windward to protect their wind sailed closer to the trees and into some extreme shifts and drops in pressure. Nickless and Froggat were now on the horizon as Sarah Jarman and Ellie Devereux battled with Nick Devereux and Max Moyles for the youth race. Sarah and Ellie gaining the lead and taking the win on the last lap.

Nick Devereux led the fleet round for the youths in the second race. Nickless and Froggat were
GP14 Masters/Youthspushing Paul Owen (Dodge) and Andy Hunter in the Masters race when they approached the leeward mark for the last time. A technical issue compromised their spinnaker drop, and an untimely gust dumped them in the water. Sympathetic followers sailed past. Dodge and Hunter took the win ahead of Mark Taylor and Andrew Clewer.

With a reversal of their usual helm/crew roles, Taylor and Clewer led at the end of day one, ahead of Dodge and Hunter. Nick Devereux and Max Moyles led the Youths.

Less wind on the Sunday as more bright sunshine greeted the emerging visitors. Challenging conditions for those feeling compromised by the previous evening’s hospitality.

The OOD set the same course and the race was started at the third attempt. Trying to read the lake makes for good sailing in these conditions, with the gusts and patches of pressure leaving traces on the water. Wind may not be there when you arrive, but it’s nice to think you’re making informed choices.

Local boat crewed by Steve Cooper and Eugene Shrimpton Phoenix were quick up the beats in both races. In race one, on a closely contested beat, the third placed boat capitalised as the two in front fought for clear air in search of lifts on the north shore. Taylor and Clewer tacked into the middle GP14 Masters/Youthsand a nice clear line to the windward mark gave them the lead and the race.

The final race was settled on the final downwind leg. Ian Willis and Keith Dutton, Nickless and Froggat worked their way to leeward and away from the trees to get ahead of Cooper and Shrimpton. There were few trees around the lake when Ian first sailed here 50 years ago, but any South Staffs sailor knows a little about trees and wind. He gained water at the leeward mark and went on to take the race.

Two of the youth boats conducted their business ahead of the older ‘wiser’ and mostly heavier participants. Particularly in race one where Nick and Max led from the start. In the second race Sarah and Ellie were first up the beat, establishing a lead that they maintained to the end.

With two firsts and seconds each, the Youth championship went to Sarah Jarman and Ellie Devereux on countback, ahead of Nick Devereux and Max Moyles. A creditable performance from youngsters Amy Street and Szymon Matyjaisczuk saw them hold their own amongst the Masters.

Mark Taylor and Andrew Clewer took the Masters Championship, over 55 Grand Master was Steve Cooper with Eugene Shrimpton and over 65 Great Grand Master, Ian Willis with Keith Dutton.

Frank Nickless and Adam Froggat won the Ton-up trophy for the first boat with ages of crew and helm topping 100.

Combined age of oldest helm and crew was 155; the youngest pair was 27.

2016 Masters/Youths Photos

Thanks to Gill, Welsh Harp Boat Centre, Fullers and Craftinsure for supporting the event, and to all WHSC members who assisted throughout.

Report: Steve Cooper. Photos: Luke Howard. Videos Liz Hall.