Competitors at the Grafham Grand Prix on 1 January enjoyed superb conditions

Grafham Water Sailing Club’s 25th Grand Prix event took place on 1 January and marked the first event in the club’s 40th year. Competitors arrived under a grey sky to some excellent sailing conditions, with a north-westerly wind of 15 mph and a reasonable temperature for the time of year.

Boats sailed on two tracks, with cats and asymmetrics and the fast handicap fleet at the west end, and the medium handicap fleet and single handers at the East. The entire event ran under Black Flag enabling race officers Graham Wright and Ralph Tingle to get all the starts away on time but, as always, catching some people out.

The Cat and Asymmetric fleet was dominated by Simon Kearns and Ben Burns sailing an F18 who won both races with ease both on the water and on corrected time. Kearns and Burns were followed by Ian Nolan’s RS 700, and Kevin Ireson and Les Kirby in the 49er.

Fast Handicap was won equally comfortably by Tim Ollerenshaw in a ‘non hydrofoil’ Moth, followed by Dave Wade and Anthony York in the Fireball with John Reynolds and Fran Howell 3rd in the Laser 4000. Things might have been much closer if Tim Rush had managed to make the morning race with his brand-new and very pretty Osprey, since he won the afternoon fast handicap race with ease.

Down at the east end Richard Dee and Chris Martin’s Merlin Rocket dominated both races to win comfortably, but once again things might have been different. A pin biased line for the morning race got very crowded indeed and Tom Stewart’s Merlin Rocket fell foul of the black flag effectively finishing his day’s racing. Second and Third places were closely contested by Simon Kneller/Dave Lucas, and Jeremy Davy/Simon Childs in the two leading Flying 15s, the points tie only resolved by the corrected times.

Mike Lyons sailing a Blaze and Phil Laycock’s Finn were first and second singlehanders respectively, a tie once again only separated by corrected times, and they were followed in third by David Walkers Finn with two thirds.

The date of this year’s event and the very cold weather of the previous week meant a slightly reduced entry for this year’s event but it was a good thing it wasn’t delayed till the following day when there was not a breath of wind.