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VR Gul Race Team Report - Topper Nationwide Series 1
Location: Datchet Water Sailing Club
Report by: Harry Janes Saturday
When we arrived at eight o clock to Datchet Water, it was already looking like being a light wind day, just as the forecasts suggested, with 8 -10 knots. As the fleet rigged the wind showed little signs of changes to the forecast. We went in to the briefing with hope - it was looking like the first event in the last year in Toppers where every race has been completed. As we launched it was looking as if the day was going to be all about picking the shifts and finding the pressure as we had the long sail across Datchet to the start area with the wind blowing away from the clubhouse. When the fleet arrived, the PRO started to try and get racing underway.
I say started, as it began with the first attempt being postponed with3 seconds to go due to a 90 degree shift, meaning we couldn’t cross the line on starboard. The start was then quickly retried and the same thing happened on the second attempt, so this led to a longer postponement to try and get the wind to decide where it wanted to blow from. Once we had waited long enough for the wind to settle, the fleet decided to begin the first race of the nationwide series in true Topper style, with a general recall, with a generous PRO we had one more start under ‘P’ flag that also was a general recall, and we moved onto the black flag that is a common occurrence at Topper events. After this we had clean starts for the rest of the day with all 3 races for both starts being able to be raced.
On arrival on Sunday it was looking an altogether different day with 15-18 knots gusting more and a lot colder. As masts slowly made their way up around the boat park, many people were looking forward to a new day to try and improve their results. As we launched a number of the smaller sailors made the decision to sail with a reefed sail, in the hope that this would allow less capsizing and therefore better racing.
On the slipway Mr VR made a surprise appearance to wish me luck. Once again the PRO did a good job in trying to get us away on the ‘P’ flag once again but the fleet was having none of it so he was not as lenient the second day and after the first general recall, went straight to the black flag. This then allowed us to have clean starts for the rest of the day with very few people suffering from BFD on the score sheet. The wind stayed relatively strong throughout the day with the temperature not increasing allowing the bigger sailors a chance. The temperature though was shown with 57 retirees after race 5 showing that at least some of them might need to speak to Mr VR about some warmer kit.
All in all a great weekend had by most and a special thanks to Datchet Water Sailing Club for hosting the event, Andy Millington for being in charge of the safety fleet on the water and Peter Baldwin for running some excellent races at his first ever Topper National event.
Last weekend’s event was down at Stokes Bay which we had some tricky racing having to contend with. Light winds of 10 knots and a strong tide. At one point the wind faded away resulting in, one of the races being abandoned when the flight ground to a halt at the committee boat . A net score of 47 wasn't enough for a gold fleet this time
The second day saw racing postponed because of the wind (or lack of!) but the race officer finally got one race away across all the fleets . I was top 5 in the fleet round the windward, when the wind totally died, as it filled in again, the 5 lead boats had that sinking feeling as they saw everyone behind making huge gains and the chase was on!
The wind continued to fill and was then accompanied by a 90'+ shift making the last reach a beat to the finish line. An eighth place was enough secure an overall 3rd in the silver fleet for me.
Congratulations to Rheanna Pavey (Alton Water) she had a great 18th birthday weekend finishing 2nd overall in the Radials. Nice one! This was one of the trickiest places I have sailed to date.
Next up........ back to Weymouth.
UK 29ER HARKEN GRAND PRIX 2012 SERIES - VR GUL RACE TEAM REPORT PART II Report by Rob and Emma Loveridge
Bearing in mind that one of our targets for 2012 is to qualify for the 29er Eurosaf event this summer, the fact that this Rutland GP was a secondary selector for that event made it a good target regatta for early on in the season, but also a good warm-up for the Youth Nationals in two weeks’ time.
Sixty boats showed up for the event – a large number for a GP, and this resulted in the races being flighted.
The first days racing saw about 10 knots of wind from the South West, a relatively consistent wind at Rutland, however shifts still played a key role up wind, and gust-spotting was crucial downwind. We began with a solid 2nd, after an average start, and then gybing in the lanes of wind on the downwind legs. This was a very long race, with 3 laps, and not very much wind around the long course, but despite this, the top 3 boats were all within a boat length of one another at the bottom mark, and after having lead into the last top mark, it was annoying that we lost a place on the final downwind. The second race was far more forgettable for us, and after some fairly mediocre sailing, we settled for a 10th… which of course is more like a 20th when you factor in the flighting aspect. Regardless, where we ended up was of little consequence in the end, as it turned out we were OCS… oops. Nevertheless, we came into the 3rd and 4th races with flying starts and lovely fleet management, resulting in 4th and 3rd respectively. After the 4th race, we went in, still nice and warm in the great new Gul kit. We ended up 7th overnight, with 9 points, still very close to the top bunch, but with a large discard making us vulnerable on the next day.
Sunday saw a rather strange Easterly wind, accompanied by some rain. We started the first race with high hopes having prepared well for the conditions, and after a nice starboard start and early tack on to port, we looked to be in a good position. However, after tacking on a 10 degree header, and getting continually lifted, we quickly found ourselves stuck on the left of the course, which sadly, was not paying for us at all - to such an extent, that we were in fact last at one stage. Fortunately, a gust came through at the last minute, saving us some embarrassment, making us about 5th last at the top windward mark – now in sub 2-knot conditions. With the whole fleet having gybe set, and this new breeze filling in left, we straight set and made our way up to 10th place, just as they abandoned the race. In a somewhat better mood, we sat around waiting for a more consistent wind to fill in from the North. Being a very consistent direction at Rutland, we saw shifts of only about 5 degrees in the one race we sailed, and very few gusts, with a wind speed of about 12 knots. After utilising the starboard bias, we rapidly identified our priorities as fleet management and boat speed and in doing so we gained top 3 to the windward mark. After a great race, and having just nipped ahead of fellow team mates Phil and John on the finish line, we gained a 2nd – a great way to make up a few more places in the final results.
After the racing, we got changed and waited another hour or so, thankful that we weren’t in race 2, as the wind had completely died. Later, we were very happy to have gained 5th prize in the overall standings – wearing our VR jackets with pride.
As we are no longer eligible for the junior prize, as of last week, we must constantly look for the top places, and this event alongside the Winter Championships and Spanish Eurocup, have been a very promising start to the year, and a great way to come into the Youth Nationals.
Then we all crashed the Harken/ FSE Robline stand - great day at the Dinghy Show was had by all!!
The VR Gul Race Team takes over the Gul stand at the RYA Volvo Dinghy Show after eating all the cup cakes...