It seems to have been a long time coming but the RG65 Nationals weekend finally came and participants descended on Gosport for what was forecast to be a hot and sunny weekend. Many took the opportunity to tune up on Friday in a good breeze with a number of boats launching for the very first time.
Saturday morning saw bright sunshine but a breeze of little more than 5 knots largely easterly but with sufficient shifts to keep race Officer Chris Durant on his toes and everyone de-camping to control from the South Bank where things kicked off with the skippers briefing.
Skippers and visitors were welcomed to Gosport especially our friends from overseas, Belgian Christel Cracco, Frenchman Gerard Chauvel, Swiss Tobi Laux and Martin Gray from the US.
After a short rejig of the course Heat 1 B Seeding got the event under way and local knowledge seemed key as Nigel Brown swept to victory followed by Tobi Laux and Alex Cory. Heat 1A with John Tushingham not starting because of repair work, saw Phil Holliday home first from Peter Moore and Liz Tushingam.
Race 2 was to set something of the tone as with the breeze holding pace but continuing to shift, Graham Elliott showing a clean pair of heels to Tobi and by now the recovered John Tushingham.
With the breeze fighting to move more southerly Graham took Race 3 from Mark Dicks and Peter Moore (Nice new boat going well Peter!)
Alex, John T and Graham, finishing Race 4 in that order gave a master class in tactical close racing with Mark, Graham and John T ending the morning’s racing in Race 5
So to lunch with the points still reasonably close. Graham from John T, Mark, Alex, Peter M and Christel Cracco having quietly sailed pretty consistently. At this stage also worthy of note that there were 4 different designs in the top 6 boats. The lunch break also brought the fleet back to the North Bank.
It had been decided that the early post lunch races would be sailed conventionally for the championship but would also be chosen for 3 races to count towards Bart’s Big Little Boat Bash. Chris was trying to keep the courses as consistent as possible in the still 4 – 6 knot range but with the shifts seemingly moving inevitable more from the South.
During the course of Races 6 – 8, Martin Gray had clearly got the bit between his teeth after a couple of relative stinkers earlier taking first in Race 6 and 7 and second in Race 8 in his brand new Uno which he saw for the first time on Friday. Not surprising then that Martin also became the fastest timed skipper over the 3 races.
A couple of general recalls in race 8 led to 30.3 U Flag start but the inevitable urge to avoid being flagged over the start line brought a 3 way tangle between John Burgoine to windward of Phil and Graham. Try as hard as they did to disentangle themselves, it was well over half a minute before they were able to rejoin the race, and subsequently granted redress.
Tobi took Race 8 from Martin, Mark and John. Race 9 saw Graham and Phil being promoted back up from B fleet to take second and third behind Tobi in A fleet. The afternoon continued with a little more settled breeze direction but the strength gradually falling away. Race 10 saw Graham win from Phil and Martin whilst Tobi took Race 11 from John, Martin, Clive Cokayne and Graham. This 5th place for Graham would be his second discard and the end of day 1 after 11 races showed Graham with a 12 point cushion over Martin (31), John (33) and Tobi (38).
Sunday started with bright blue skies although the very light breezes were coming from everywhere, then falling away completely. Ken led B fleet away getting a commanding lead only to hit a hole towards the final windward mark and watch helplessly as the fleet gradually hauled him in and overtook. After the completion of the first heat, Chris called a postponement to try and get some consistency showing in the breeze, although it was to be indicative of the difficulties that would be faced throughout the day which would lead to several course changes.
Race 12 went to Tobi, his second consecutive win and his fourth overall. Alex took Race 13 by the end of which Graham’s lead still looked reasonably secure around the 10 point cushion mark but there was less than 5 points covering 2nd to 4th Martin, John and Tobi.
Race 14 and virtually all thereafter suffered from really tricky shifts and swings in wind speed but it still looked as if Graham could hold on, especially since at that stage only 2 more races and the third discard would cut in.
Stinkers for Martin and John in Race 15 meant the top three were bunching ever closer, Tobi taking this one from Graham leaving Graham still clear but John and Tobi inseparable.
Race 16 sailed with the third discard coming into play at the end of it. Mark took it from Tobi although a major swing in the scores was about to take place with Graham discarding his 8th place, John discarded the 11th from Race 15 but Tobi managed to get a Race 3 15th place out of the reckoning. 10 points now covered the leading 3 boats but they were forging further ahead of Martin, Alex, Mark and Christel.
With the breeze continuing to move more Southerly, the beats more directly across the lake became necessarily shorter. Christel started to make a move winning Race 17 from Tobi and John but Graham’s 7th place was enough to change the overall lead. Another win for Christel in race 18 closely followed by Tobi and John meant that it was getting closer than ever and as 3.45 approached, what would inevitably be the last race got under way. Martin led this one home, from Christel, John and Graham but could Tobi hold on to his slender lead.
The answer was that Tobi’s 7th place was good enough for the event win with net 50, Graham was 2nd with net 54.2 and John third with net 57. Top 6 then all different designs.
Our thanks go to the Gosport club and members for putting on a great event and especially Chris Durant and his merry gang of helpers for keeping the racing ticking over. Stephen Ridgway, Paul Edwards, Richard Filer, Alan Butt, Nick and Christine Ward, John O’Brien, Mike Carter, Mervyn Cook, Tony Millis, Chris Judd, Robert Hobbs, Chris Moore, Trevor Cartwright, Phil Hampson and Tim Rees for their lakeside help, Sue Brown for keeping the kitchen stocked with drinks and cakes, and last but not least, John Smith for organising the event from start to finish. We look forward to our next visit to this great venue.
Our report finishes with 2 questions, to which the answer to both was, if you were able to be at the prize giving, emphatic No’s.
Q1 Has anyone, when considering the applause and acclaim from his fellow competitors, been a more popular winner.
Q2 If you saw Tobi after the presentation, has anyone been more pleased with their performance and result. After 7 year’s trying he had at last won his first regatta in his home designed, home built and relatively old boat. Just goes to show that persistent time on the water pays off.
Pictures thanks to Sue Brown from Catsails – many more pictures on Sue’s Flickr Pages