Big winds greeted the 24-strong fleet of Vareos at last weekend's open meeting at Grafham Water SC

A fleet of 24 Vareos travelled to Draycote Water Sailing Club for the Gul Inland Championship on 2-3 October to be greeted by a stiff breeze and the promise of exciting sailing.

The first race saw probably the windiest conditions of the weekend, and there were many capsizes. Chris Larr set the scene for the rest of the weekend winning, while national champion Jon Lewis managed to break the kicker on a borrowed boat and had to retire. Carl Whitehead finished second, with Robin Saunders third. In the second race Jon regained his form winning with Chris Larr second and recent returnee Luke Fisher third. The third race saw many capsizes and a number of retirees, Chris Larr again taking first place with Carl Whitehead second and Jon Lewis third.

With the promise of gales on Sunday the fleet returned ashore having had spectacular and closely matched racing. A lively class meeting and a discussion of rules, events and tips – with Jon Lewis imparting some of his wisdom – meant the fleet left happy – one of our number even braved the conditions and opted to sleep in a tent!

Sunday started with very light winds and the lightweight (and younger) members of the fleet relishing conditions that should have been very much to their liking. With the lightest competitor weighing somewhat under half that of the heaviest competitor it was extremely interesting to watch the variety of sailing (and hiking) styles on offer! The first race, in light winds, saw Tim Greenwood take a flying port-end start and lead the fleet by a mile to the first mark, but he was soon overtaken to finish third behind Jon and Chris. Race 5 saw slightly increased wind – and the fleet keeping very tight upwind – the skill was in getting downwind deep enough and quick enough – again with different styles – but no definite conclusions. In Race 6 the promised increase in wind strength materialised and the conditions became quite testing. With a slight shift it seemed to pay to go as near the dam as one dared – watching out for shoreline obstacles, before almost having a single gybe downwind. Chris Larr proved that he was as human as everybody else and managed to capsize just before the finish to let Luke Fisher take line honours and fourth place overall. However, with 3 firsts and 2 seconds, Chris Larr had an emphatic victory – Jon Lewis with 2 firsts coming second, and Carl Whitehead with 2 seconds and 2 thirds coming third overall.

Andrew Trigg was awarded the merit prize – not only the lightest and youngest competitor – he showed many of the old stalwarts a thing or two by managing to finish every race.