Great Britain, British Inland Championships 2015
Grafham Water SC, Central England (about 100km north of London)
11 - 12 April
After a break of some 20 years the OK dinghy class returned to Grafham Water for their Inland Championships over the weekend of April 11-12.
With strong winds forecast no one was that surprised to be greeted by whitecaps across the lake. Undeterred the Grafham race team held their nerve and duly sent the fleet out in 20 knots of breeze building to 25 and gusting considerably more at times, for three back to back races.
Racing was very close right through the fleet with plenty of place changing at the front. Race 3 was a particularly close affair with six boats challenging the lead on the final round. Terry Curtis from Weymouth made the best of the day leading overnight with two firsts and a fourth place from Jim Hunt and Nick Craig from Frensham Pond.
It is fair to say that there were some unexpected events and many learned some tough lessons throughout the weekend.
As far as the unexpected goes:
- Jim Hunt capsized an OK for the first time ever, while leading Race 1.
- Nick Craig narrowly escaped following his example with a spectacular crash gybe in Race 3.
- Richard Burton led Race 1 down the penultimate downwind (unexpected) then capsized (perhaps a little more expected).
- Richard Burton learned that gybing with the kicker on can hurt. Firstly your elbow if you leave it sticking up, secondly your head if you don't duck, the latter resulting in six stitches and the end of his event.
- Simon Cox learned that his GoPro was waterproof.
- Simon Cowood learned that his OK sailing apprenticeship is not quite complete, as he hurtled off towards the beach in a 30 knot gust - something about steering under the mast.
- Dave Bourne learned it’s best to use your trolley to drag your boat up the slipway.
Saturday night was quieter than the usual OK event as the tired but happy fleet discussed the prospect of even more wind for Sunday over a few beers.
The forecast was not wrong. Once again the race team held their nerve and sent the fleet out for Race 4 in a building breeze that had reached 25 knots plus by the start. The Hunt, Craig, Curtis battle was resumed with Craig taking the initiative. The Curtis challenge was brief as he was caught out by a gust and took a swim on the first downwind leg. Craig took the win from Hunt and a fast improving Ed Bradburn.
With the wind now in the 30s, with some gusts approaching 40 knots, and Craig now level on points, things were really hotting up. This time Hunt rounded first followed by Craig. Dave Bourne, Bradburn and Simon Cowood were all in the frame. Cowood took another swim. Hunt extended his lead as the conditions deteriorated further, then things went crazy.
First Hunt’s rudder gave up, ending his race. Craig then bailed out on a huge gust heading off in the opposite direction to the mark. By the time he had managed to gather his composure Bourne, Curtis and Bradburn were thundering down the run, right on his transom. The rest of the fleet with the exception of Robert Deaves were upside-down and scattered around the lake like confetti.
Craig headed off up the beat thinking he had another lap. Curtis and Bourne followed him thinking the race was abandoned, and picked up Deaves along the way. Bradburn had also started a fourth beat, but then doubled back towards the committee boat to check. To his delight he got a gun. Craig finally crossed the line having completed an extra lap taking second place and the event.
So, back to some lessons:
- Everyone learned it’s really difficult sailing an OK dead downwind in a 40 knot gust.
- The half of the fleet that didn't launch their boats on Day 2 learned that they are wise and already knew about the 40 knots thing.
- Simon Cowood learned that you can also overdo the steering under the mast thing.
- Craig learned that he should remember how many laps were posted on the committee boat.
- Curtis and Bourne learned that they don't know the flags as well as they thought.
- Deaves learned never to believe everything he is told.
There ended an exciting (and somewhat bizarre) return to Grafham for the OK Dinghies.
|1||Nick Craig||2150||Frensham Pond||2||2||5||1||2||12||7|
|2||Jim Hunt||1||Blithfield SC||3||1||2||2||DNC||33||8|
|3||Terry Curtis||2118||Weymouth Sailing Club||1||4||1||9||DNC||40||15|
|4||Dave Bourne||2172||Upriver Yacht Club||5||3||4||5||DNC||42||17|
|5||Ed Bradburn||2116||South Staffs||9||5||9||3||1||27||18|
|8||Keith Byers||2084||Morecombe Sailing Club||12||9||7||8||DNC||61||36|
|11||Deryk Lovegorve||2130||Burghfield SC||11||14||13||10||DNC||73||48|
|12||Finn Gheury||553||Datchet Water Sailing Club||14||12||11||13||DNC||75||50|
|14||Ken Carroll||2139||Alton Water||16||17||12||DNC||DNC||95||70|
|15||Toby Ramsey||2100||Dabchicks Sailing Club||15||DNC||DNC||6||DNC||96||71|
|18||Simon Cowood||2154||Northampton SC||19||DNC||DNC||12||DNC||106||81|
|19||John Ball||2158||Brighttlingsea Sailing Club||17||15||DNC||DNC||DNC||107||82|
|20||Neil Goodhead||2125||South Staffs||18||16||DNC||DNC||DNC||109||84|
|21||Martin Bower||66||Blithfield SC||20||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||120||95|
|22||Paul Pike||2080||Covenham Sailing Club||21||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||121||96|
|23||Dave Cooper||2161||Overy Staithe Sailing Club||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||125||100|
|23||Alexander Baxter||2112||West Oxfordshire SC||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||DNC||125||100|
OCS, DNC, DNF, DSQ etc: 25 Points