GP14 Chase Midland Areas Attracts World and National Champions

38 boats turned up at the Chase Sailing Club over the weekend of 21 and 22 April for the GP14 Midland Area Championships to be greeted by the sailing holy grail of sunshine, wind and some of the best GP14 sailors in the world.

The entry list including current GP14 World Champions Shane MacCarthy and Andy Davis (Greystones SC), current GP14 National Champions Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe (Burwain SC), last year’s Midland Champions Pete Gray and Richard Pepperdine (Staunton Harold SC) not to mention Nick Craig, Toby Lewis and Tom Gillard.

Not many RO briefings have to warn competitors that the steam train that circumvents the lake sounds a bit like the start hooter but as it was they needn’t have worried. With a start line more crowded than the turkey aisle at Asda on Christmas Eve all you could here were cries of ‘you can’t go there’, and some other less polite exchanges.

The first start was an inevitable general recall as the fleet jumped to get racing in the F2/3 breeze. The second start stood with Pete Gray, Justin Jones and Steve Bennett OCS and out. With the first beat towards the powerboat club we were off. As you can imagine, with a large, very competitive fleet starts were crucial. If you didn’t get a good start you were hitting windward in a pack and getting bogged down on the mark. The gains on the beat kept shifting and after race one there were a lot of very good sailors out of normal position. Those that were in very familiar positions were Ian/Andy first and Shane/Taxi second. In third were Monkey/Sarah (Poole YC) who put in the first of a string of excellent performances (perhaps motivated by the in-boat trials for which one of the pair gets to helm at the Worlds!)

Second race there were three OCS including myself and Dodge, Andy/Bev and the Croxfords. It was another bullet for Ian/Andy with Monkey/Sarah second and Tom Gillard/Andy Thompson (Sheffield Viking/East Antrim) third. The wind wasn’t playing ball by the end of the second race and had pushed off to get an ice cream. The fleet voted with their paddles and were mostly on shore de-rigging when the RO abandoned for the rest of the day leaving four to sail on the Sunday.

After a takeaway, or two takeaways for some (Sam Mettam!) the Class’ unofficial social co-ordinators Maciej and Steve Parker set about getting the party going and a yard of ale drinking competition. Unsurprisingly there weren’t too many takers, but the Welsh Harp boys stepped up and it was Maciej vs Tomasz vs 2.5 pints of Chase Buster. Neither covered themselves in glory but both covered themselves in beer as the party headed for the bright lights of Norton and the rest of us dispersed.

Sunday morning was an early start of 10am to get all the races in and with a bit more cloud cover the breeze picked up to a fun F4. There was no messing from the RO with the black flag in play for all four races. This still didn’t stop Richard Instone, Justin Jones and Steve Bennett from premature starts and were out. Winners of R3, and the Richard Estaugh Trophy, were Pete/Richard with Ian/Andy second and Tom/Andy third.

With a good course set for race four and the breeze holding it was John Blundell, Mark McKeever and Steve Bennett (again!) who were black flagged as the rest enjoyed some nice down wind legs and

Ian/Andy took another bullet. By race five it looked like the fleet had final got bored of being black flagged and it was the only clean start of the event. By this point the racing had started to take its toll on boats and sailors with a few breakages and DNCs but the rest of us hiked hard and after having carb loading the night before it paid off for Sam Mettam/Tim Saunders (Papercourt SC) as they finished second. For the last race of the day Shane joined the black flag party as Ian and Andy stormed to another victory. Justin Jones and Chris Anderson managed to get a clean start and take second despite a broken spinnaker system. At the end of the weekend Chase had provided some great, shifty inland sailing to start the season off as we build towards the Worlds at Mount’s Bay in July.

Ian and Andy looked in good form taking the overall win with Pete and Richard second and Tom and Andy third. The racing was close and competitive with even those at the back not too far away from some who will surely make it into the Platinum Fleet at the Worlds. For the junior and youth sailors at the event this will be one to remember. Special mention goes to Callum Anderson and Finn Morgan from South Staffs SC for doing all six races even as the wind picked up. With a combined age of 25 and combined weight of just 11st they were stars!

Speaking after the event, Commodore of the Chase Sailing Club, Paul Batchelor said: “Thank you to all of the competitors for making it a special event, the galley ladies and race team, Marine 13 and everyone at the Club who contributed. I am very pleased and proud to be Commodore of such a fantastic sailing club and it was a pleasure to meet all of the GP14 visiting sailors, family and friends that helped to make it such an enjoyable event.”

GP14 Midland Championship RESULTS