Gul RS 400 Winter Champs 21/2/06

Grafham Water SC managed to serve up an awesome combination of big breeze, fantastic race management and a great party at the Gul RS 400 Winter Champs.

Sharing the track with the 800s, the 400s kicked off proceedings with a clean start to Race 1. Jon Gorringe and Toby Lewis got to the windward first with Howard Farbrother and Louise Hoskins just behind, the trapezoid course catching a few out with boats reaching in well above the port layline.

Gorringe and Lewis extended their lead throughout the race, with Tom Halhead and Chris Bishop recovering from a poor first beat to take second, with Richard Marsh and Mark Hogan finishing third.

Race 2 saw Halhead and Bishop round the windward mark first just in front of a large clump, and hang onto this for the remainder of the race, with multiple Squib champion Chris Hogan, crewed by Elaine Marsh taking second, and Gorringe / Lewis third. Race 3 was a similar story with Halhead / Bishop taking the win, with Gorringe / Lewis second, and Richard Bone and Daniel Martin sailing a great race to take third.

A new innovation this year is the introduction of the silver fleet at all Gul Championship, and Fat Face circuit events. This will see big prizes being handed out to the top three silver boats (this weekend – £100 worth of Gul vouchers), and will also feature in the end of season circuit prizes. Overnight leaders of the silver fleet were Ffion Haf Jones, crewed by John Jones, with Chris and Gill Jordan, and Ronan Keneally and Roger O’Gorman close behind, however with a discard yet to come into play and some big scores to get rid of in the first three, it was all open.

Sunday morning dawned a bit warmer and with significantly more breeze. The first race was won by Halhead and Bishop with Marsh and Hogan second and Gorringe and Lewis third. Race 5 saw Gorringe and Lewis, and silver fleet leaders Jones and Jones getting great starts off the pin, a little bit too good as it turned out, however, Gorringe and Lewis sailed into a big lead on the water, whilst a cagey start by Halhead and Bishop saw them deep in the pack, and needing to get back to second to tie the event up. The next few laps saw some real place changing between them and Marsh / Hogan, with Halhead / Bishop sneaking through to take the win, and Bone / Martin third. With the pressure off for race 6 Halhead / Bishop took an early lead from Gorringe / Lewis, which continued to the finish, with Marsh and Hogan close behind in third.

The Jones’ OCS in the fifth hurt their chances in the silver fleet, and with the Jordan’s and Keneally / O’Gorman both having solid days the order was turned around, with the Jones’ 3rd, Keneally / O’Gorman 2nd and the Jordan’s taking home the Gul vouchers.