2017 GP14 National Championship – Days 1 & 2
Looe Sailing Club, 06 & 07 August
Glorious sunshine greeted the competitors for the first day of the 2017 GP14 National Championships, part of the Craftinsure Super 8 Series, as 64 boats rigged on the crowded beach front. The best numbers for a week long GP14 Nationals for over a decade despite an unprecedented number of broken or sprained limbs in the build-up that would have seen the entry 10 bigger.
The North Sails sponsored day gave us champagne sailing with a F4/5, 1 metre waves and some good courses in the familiar triangle, sausage, triangle format. The gates starts made sure there were no issues and we were away clean for Race 1. The beats favoured left but it was easy to carry on too far and over stand it. First round windward was P&B’s Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter (Snettisham Beach/Nantwich) although they got sucked into a three-way battle with Mike Senior and Chris White (South Staffs) and Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe (Burwain) and came off the worst with Mike and Chris taking the lead initially but Ian and Andy putting in a faultless race to take the win. The reaches were perfect with lots of us enjoying time on the plane and faces full of spray.
Carrying on from the bone breaking bad luck prior to the event, slips, trips and falls was very much the story of Day 1 with a F4/5 on a lumpy sea leaving many of the pond sailors enjoying some unexpected time on the floor of their boats. This included Redoubt’s Neal Gibson and also one boat builder’s helm who apparently fell once, dropped the tiller, did a turn and then repeated the feat a minute later on the next wave earning him the new nick name of Bambi in the Boat.
Ellie Davies had a little water ski off the back of her and Colin Midgley’s boat as she was trying to reattach the outhaul and ended up slipping out but still hanging on. There were a few capsizes during the race with the most unfortunate being Richard Abendsern and Izzy Waterfall (Toddbrook SC) who capsized a few boat lengths from the line. The local pairing of Rob Libby and Brian Bowdler (Looe SC) were in front of our boat with ten boat lengths to go when Brian slipped out and Rob was trying to hold onto him with one hand and still sail to the line with the other, this appeared to result in a switch with Brian then in the boat holding onto Rob.
Richard Ham and Szymon Matyjaszczu won the Naff Award with Szymon being presented with some much needed ear plugs to help keep Richard’s ‘gentle verbal encouragement’ at a less deafening level.
Many didn’t think we would sail on Monday with some awful forecasts being shown round in the bar the night before however there looked like enough breeze from shore and we set off. Initially quite sunny from shore the gloom in our boat set in as soon as we saw the signal for line starts and soon the sky also joined in.
The combination of port bias, tide and the GP14 fleet was never going to work out well! Following two general recalls the black flag went up. The third was another general and the start saw 11 boats lobbed out for being over. The now depleted fleet finally got away at the fourth attempt.
Now this is where the Day 2 report gets a little tricky. In theory, as one of those lobbed, we had the perfect vantage point to watch the race but what transpired on the water. However, with the RO videoing the starts and unable to get all of the numbers visually on the start there were 5 racing who also later got lobbed.
The first round windward was the blue spinnaker of Raceys Rocket with Mike Senior and Chris White (South Staffs SC) taking a one boat length lead to ten by halfway down the first reach. The battle for the top ten behind Mike and Chris looked fun with boats changing places throughout, unfortunately with several of those posthumously black flagged there were some very disappointed sailors later.
The beats were a little short compared to some previous championships but that suited those who go well down wind. Impact Marine’s Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe were fifth with a bit of work to do to catch Mike but they took three coming into the mark at the end of the sausage run. By this point though Mike and Chris were cruising and the last lap saw them ease out an impressing half a leg lead on second finishing a clear minute and a half ahead of Ian and Andy.
The next start was a line start again and on the third attempt we got away although many of us weren’t sure why as it looked like at least 20 boats over. With the start videoed again the RO let the whole fleet go and lobbed seven after the racing.
One of those pairings that thought they were having the day of their lives were Richard Ham and Szymon Matyjaszczu from Tollesbury SC/Welsh Harp SC who lead the fleet around windward and managed to hold on for third only to find their two top ten results were actually black flags. Mike and Chris also had a bad third race going from second to out when the results were published in the evening and the two protests left more boats out in an interesting day on the water.
People who had good days managed to start clean, avoid trouble and sail consistently were rewarded, one of those being Bolton’s Mark and Sam Platt who were promoted to second in the last race and finished the day third overnight and John and Donal McGuiness from Moville Boat Club finishing fourth. The winners of Race 3 were the overnight leaders with P&Bs Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter (Snettisham Beach/Nantwich) sailing consistently and cleverly once again.
Not sure if 23 boats black flagged in one day is a record for the fleet but it’s got to come close! With gate starts promised for Day 3 that at least cheered a few up at the bar later. The daily Naff awards were fruitful for the Chase SC SP Boats with Richard Instone and Steve Parker winning a pair of dummies just in case they were needed after finding out they had been booted out of both races of the day and Frank Nickless awarded a bone to chew on to keep him quiet from shouting at his crew.
Speaking about the event, Race 2 sponsor Jeremy Nicholson said: “Allen Brothers is delighted to continue its support for the GP14 class as we are both part of UK sailing heritage. Originally designed in 1949, the GP14 has used Allen fittings from its inception and has given thrills and pleasure to thousands of sailors over the years.”
Race 3 sponsor, Andy Davis from HD was also delighted to be involved: “It is with great pleasure to be supporting the GP14 National Championships in Looe. We wish everyone attending a truly enjoyable weeks racing and we are happy to show our support by sponsoring a race. Good luck from myself and Jim.”
Thanks also to Paintcraft Boats for sponsoring the post-race beer.
Report by Michelle Evans