Alan Bax and Paul Busby win an exciting event at Grafham Water last weekend 7/4/06

April showers and ‘blowing old boots’ set the scene for the Grafham Water Flying 15 open meeting on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 April 2006.

The wind forecast may have discouraged some entries, the competition comprising a lower-than-average entry of 26 boats. There were only five classic boats so the separate start advertised in the Notice of Race was forsaken. Sharing their course with the Fireball open meeting, the Flying 15s had the advantage of observing their first beat with five minutes between starts.

A general recall on Race 1 brought the black flag into operation for the remainder of the weekend. Race Officer Tony Akers set old Olympic-style courses at the west end of the reservoir with south-westerly to westerly winds on both days. Saturday was bright, sunny and breezy and most completed the three short, back-to-back races.

The wind strengthened on the Sunday, averaging Force 5 and gusting 7/8. Many broaches and even the rare sight of Flying 15s turned turtle led the RO to sensibly cancel Race 6 for safety reasons. Despite the mayhem, the races provided thoroughly exhilarating planing runs along the surf through the finishing line and there were very few breakages, although one boat did limp back to the jetty with a missing sail panel on Saturday.

Alan Bax and Paul Busby (Hayling Island) performed consistently to win overall but they were never far from the threat of Jeremy Davy and Simon Childs (GWSC) who led and won the last three races. Neil Platt and Tim Harper (Bolton and WKSC) were placed third overall.

In Race 2, Jeremy Davy and Simon Childs failed to notice that the race length was only three rounds not (as in Race 1) and sailed an extra round, taking some of the fleet with them. The observant Alan Bax went through the line to claim the race win. Gill Browning and Simon Hunt (Hayling Island) had also noticed the change and finished second. This error by Jeremy Davy and trailing boat (Andy Palmer and Steve Carson) was a deciding factor in who won the event overall. An applaud for good seamanship should be recorded for Gill Browning and Simon Hunt who forsook one race to go to the aid of a capsized Fireball. This no doubt, affected their overall placing too.

In a style of their own, Andy Palmer and Steve Carson crossed the finishing line upside down in Race 2 having performed a magnificent broach in front of the committee boat. Several others took the plunge and departed from their boats including Simon Kneller, Dave Philpott and Barry Wyatt. All shall be claiming their ‘Grafham Lido’ awards at the annual prizegiving.