The GUL RS400 Racing Circuit visited Mumbles YC on 14-15 July for the penultimate round in the Gul RS400 circuit. However, the light winds and rain forecast resulted in a low turnout but the weathermen got it totally wrong, the rain went to Bristol and the racing was held in a Force 3- 5 and sunshine also helped keep a smile on everyone’s faces.
On Saturday, it looked like it was going to be a long day in the bar as the wind span in circles until at 1430 a Force 3 appeared from nowhere. The wind though was from the north-west coming straight off the hills of Swansea and was pretty unstable leading to some massive place changes downwind. The wind did slowly build during the day giving some good bursts of performance downwind. The race officer did a good job in getting three races in and it was a very happy fleet who left the water in the early evening struggling to believe such a turn around in the weather.
Nick Craig/Richard Brown, sailing together for the first time won all three races on Saturday, though the wins were all pretty close. GUL Circuit leaders Craig Burlton/Andrew Bonsey were unlucky not to win the last race – they led all the way round but tried to hold the kite on the tight reach into the finish only to have to perform a rapid drop to lay the finish line allowing Craig/Brown to just get over the top of them. A typically consistent score of 5,2,2 put them in second place overnight. Chris Jennings/Ed Nicklin have had a topsy-turvy season but returned to the consistency for which they are renowned with a solid 3,3,5. National champions Roger Gilbert/James Stewart had some shocking first beats but showed their pace to stage some impressive comebacks and still be in the running with 2,6,3. New to the class, Chris Hogan/Neil Hughston led race two for a couple of rounds but eventually lost out downwind to their more experienced rivals to finish fifth.
Sunday dawned with clear blue skies and almost no wind. Just when everyone thought the 1030 start would be delayed, giving them a chance to recover from visiting a dodgy Swansea nightclub in the early hours, a Force 3 from the north-west rapidly filled in again. Although the wind remained at this strength all day there were massive shifts and holes giving everyone a snakes and ladders day; everyone could safely say they saw every part of the fleet, often in the same race.
A massive shift right, in the opening race made for a procession race with a one tack beat. Greg O’Brien/John Blundell enjoyed this as they took an early lead on the first run, which was a close reach, and then were the only boat to have clear wind on the beats! Craig/Brown moved through to second on the last run to just beat rivals Jennings/Nicklin and Burlton/Bonsey, while Gilbert/Stewart had to sit out as their main fell down up the first beat.
After several general recalls, race two saw Gilbert/Stewart open up an early lead but it was clearly not their weekend as a huge shift on the first run dumped them 15 places. Burlton/Bonsey came planing in from the left corner to take 10 places and the lead with huge grins! A close battle between them and Craig/Brown and Jennings/Nicklin saw Craig/Brown pick up a big gust downwind to win and seal the event with a race to spare. Jennings/Nicklin just squeezed into second ahead of Burlton/Bonsey.
Gilbert/Stewart returned to form in the last race by leading from start to finish. A force 5-6 blasted in on the last run during which Jennings/Nicklin picked up three places to finish third, just two boatlengths behind Burlton/Bonsey, which would have got them second overall. Just to rub things in Craig/Brown swapped over for the last race and Brown impressed many by finishing fourth.
Ex-Laser sailors Jason Pyke/Ian Gregory won best improvers with sixth overall and are going to be strong contenders in the future – they are already among the quickest upwind and are improving fast downwind. Phil Jackson/Gerard Barron had their best circuit