RS700 Gul Grand Prix at Eastbourne Sovereign SC

RS700 Gul Grand Prix 2012 at Eastbourne Sovereign SC
Ricky Whitmore
RS700 Gul Grand Prix 2012 was held at Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club over the weekend of 12th and 13th May. What a fantastic weekend’s sailing at Eastbourne (generously sponsored by Gul) and barely a cloud in the sky.

We’ve been so unlucky with the weather over the last few events that it was a real treat to enjoy a couple of near perfect days and some champagne sailing. Eight boats joined the 200s and 800s at Sovereign who looked after us all in the manner to which we have become accustomed. What a great club!

We had better than forecast conditions all weekend - I do hope that WindGuru’s pessimism didn’t put people off coming. Saturday was an odd one with a gentle northeaster giving a lazy start and with the course set nearly due north/south most punters pretty much fetched the leeward mark on one gybe. Steve Powell, from Queen Mary, showed his class after a start at full chat and led until his massive bulk broke a trapeze wire (and inevitable tiller extension) on the third beat allowing Jerry Wales and Tony Dencher past for the one two. Matt Conner, Graham Blake and Hamish Griffiths established a tussle for last three places which lasted the weekend and shows that QMSC also knows how to fight a rear-guard action!

As the first race finished the wind nearly reversed itself, settling within the hour to a gentle sou’ sou’ wester. Considering the number of marks requiring to be moved for three fleets, the race team did a great job to get us away so quickly for number two with Wales ahead by the first mark, slipstreamed by Dencher and a close match between Colin Dacey who pipped Ian Nolan on the last beat to the windward mark and held on for third. (The 'QMSC Three' 5,6 and 7 – of course). Wales led from start to finish in race three with tight racing all the way round from the whole fleet who all finished within a gybe or two.

It doesn’t get much better than Sunday. A really lovely day with a freshening south-westerly F4/6 breeze almost made it feel good to be alive – the capsizes snapped us out of it.

Race four started well with Wales, Powell, Dencher and Nolan all hitting the line at full speed towards the pin end. Do have a look at the GPS replays here – there were some great ding dongs throughout the fleet and some impressive speeds achieved off the wind. There was nothing to separate the leading four until the last beat when first Powell and then Wales tacked off left allowing Dencher to squeeze round the windward mark just ahead of Wales, the pair of them pulling off some neat gybes almost on top of one another, Jerry edging past on the line. Dacey was up there with the best of them and had a great weekend.

Five boats made a neat port tack start in the next race and Nolan led all the way to the mark showing once again his ability to sail high and fast in a breeze. Wales was already nipping at his heels though next time round the top mark. Ian got in a tangle there though and allowed Jerry the lead and the win. That was a clean sweep of wins for Wales and he headed for the shore, an early bath and the long trip back to Falmouth. Powell snapped his second tiller extension of the weekend ('honestly, I just leant on it a little bit') which put him out. He’ll be hard to beat once he stops breaking things.

With Jerry and Steve out of the frame was this the moment for the Queen Mary slowcoaches to shine? No. Well done though to Colin Dacey on his deserved win.

Congratulations to Eastbourne Sovereign Sailing Club for putting on such a super regatta, you should be very proud. Particular thanks to the galley staff for excellent food and to the beach gang who made launching and recovery (nearly) a doddle. A great race team led by PRO Gary Smith ensured that we all had a perfect weekend of sailing.

Provisional Results
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1st641000Windsport SCTerry Wales1. DNS)14.05.0
2nd63870Netley SCTony Dencher2.
3rd67758GWSCColin Dacey4.03.04.0(5.0)
4th66993Snettisham Beach SCIan Nolan(5.0)
5th65949Queen Mary SCMatt Conner(6.0)
6th611013Queen MaryHamish Griffith(7.0)
7th68780QM SCSteve Powell3.0(9.0 DNF)9.0 DNS4.09.0 DNF9.0 DNS43.034.0
8th62914Queen MaryGraham Blake8. DNF)43.034.0

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