It is a real pleasure to write about the seventh GP14 open that took place on Saturday, it was a classic sailing day to remember mainly for the downwind legs of the gybe free‘butterfly’ course set by OOD Derek. 20+knot winds tested crews and boats, the TSC boats were all cautious (no spinnakers) but Roger Walton, Ben, James etc all took it in their stride with huge grins as they flew off downwind. As usual YP and all the club rescue boats were expertly manned by plenty of volunteers; once again there was a master class by Richard (and Helen) who managed to win the final 2 races and the event for the sixth successive year.
The fleet was small which was probably fortunate as the wind was all over the place at the western end of the fleet and with a considerable wind bend to the right (caused by the wind funnelling down the creeks) the committee boat end was always going to be congested, it was all to easy to fail to tack onto port well before the mark and this lead to some risky port tack attempts to round the windward mark. Unfortunately it went wrong for Andy and his new boat in Race 3 , despite approaching on starboard he was fouled by a port tack boat at the mark and ended first capsized and was then hit by at least 2 others before being holed by the shackles sticking out from the buoy.( NB change it). In R1 and 2 the very broad reach from 1 to 6 really did need the spinnaker but Jilly and I were reluctant and so always rather wallowed along in the wake of most of the fleet! We watched Richard standing nonchalantly to leeward -perhaps GPs really are more stable with the spinnaker set. The second longer beat from 6 to 9 was a tactical challenge –go left straight to the tide in the South channel or to work the shifts? I tended to get it wrong by missing the shifts or over-standing badly to the left! The final leg to 10 was amazing, 10 was well to the west of its normal position giving a perfect reaching angle, not even Roger Walton’s pirate kite appeared but I bet he thought about it. We just felt like windsurfers bouncing off the waves! It was very interesting to see how the creeks influenced the slant of the wind in different parts of the leavings and also how the waves influenced our speed and tacking-we and several other boats got caught in irons and shot off back-wards at alarming speed before regaining control.
As always Maz’s food was excellent and the travellers really appreciated it, likewise Derek’s slick running of the whole event was great. The very quick turnaround between the 40 minute races is also really helpful (to visitors) and is not always the norm at other clubs.
In conclusion a really good day but there was concern that only 4 TSC boats raced (a 5th made a brave attempt to join in but the conditions were just too much for them) Of these 4 only Roger and Nick along with Martin and Scott completed all 3 races. 3 more GPs have permanently left the club in the past month so there is a decline and work needs to be done to rebuild. Rik and Jon’s sterling efforts at the ‘Fayre’ and Adult training etc should boost numbers. Everybody seems agreed that a racing fleet of one design dinghies is preferable and that the GP14 is a very suitable boat for training or racing at Tollesbury . Some people struggle to find a crew but in my experience there is usually someone keen to sail. Maybe at next years Open meeting we could have a separate ‘B’ fleet start for novice helms. I really do hope that the club membership recognises the merits of its GP 14 fleet and the links to other clubs that the Travellers circuit provides. Its all about bums in boats and if you want a sail or some assistance to get going just ask me!
The 4th round of the series is at nearby Stone SC next month-In 2010 we had 12 boats at the equivalent event (Derek ran it at Bradwell)-can anybody make it this year?