Flying 15s at Grafham

Friday, May 03, 2013

Richard Lovering and Matt Alvarado continue their winning form in ‘Hyde Sails’ at the Grafham Water SC open meeting.
A healthy 25 Flying Fifteen teams from all over England arrived at Grafham for two days of racing in the fifth round of the UK Global Ranking Series.

The scene for the weekend was set at the briefing; six races in total, three back-to-back each day. Triangle-sausage courses of up to four laps, with more breeze than forecast would mean a little hiking endurance test for those just starting their season.

Saturday gave the fleet a great breeze from the south-west, really piping up in race two, with Sunday a complete 180 in direction with the breeze from the north, a little lighter and possibly even harder to read...

Day one
The first race got away with a little boat end bias. Up the first beat a left shift initially favoured those who had pegged in on starboard for longest. Then a righty later on closed it up a little and helped those in the middle step up to the left and those on the right get back some ground. It was pretty tight at the first mark; Lovering/Alvarado in ‘Hyde Sails’ led from Wells/Darling. Over the course of the race, Lovering and Wells battled for the lead whilst just behind the front pair, the teams of Cadwallader/Sweet, Bax/Busby and Apthorpe/Clark had their own scrap. Wells eventually got the upper hand and the bullet in race one after Lovering failed to cover allowing Wells to exercise his considerable experience of playing shifty lakes in a Fifteen. Cadwallader/Sweet took the final podium spot with Bax and Apthorpe fourth and fifth respectively.

Race two was again away with a little boat end bias. This was the breeziest race of the weekend with some decent sharp puffs and shifts to deal with. Again Lovering/Alvarado led at the first mark after taking the boat end and sailing in clear air all the way. Second round were class legends Goacher/Evans out for their first competitive Flying Fifteen event this season. Goacher appeared to school Lovering on the first reach herding him up high then calmly slotting underneath at the gybe mark to overtake. Lovering subsequently rolled Goacher down the second reach and the race was on with both lead boats opening up a big gap to the next bunch which included Wells/Darling, Dingwall/Bannister and Dobson/Saxton. Over the next legs Lovering and Goacher slogged it out in the shifting and heavy spring breeze; big puffs and shifts meant that no lead was safe. Goacher eventually settled the race by sailing smartly at the top of the last beat putting Lovering out of phase and getting ahead before the last two reaches to the line.

Race three was the tightest first top mark of the day with boats side by side and bumper to bumper with plenty of rules experts on hand to point out who was on starboard and who was on port, what is three boat lengths and what is close-hauled etc. Hopson/King led round the mark demonstrating that their winter training had paid off, they were followed by a bunch including Lucas/Longstaff, Wells/Darling, Tattersall/Smart and Lovering/Alvarado. By the wing mark, those who initially went a little higher on the first reach were then able to roll the boats to leeward and soak down into the Gybe mark overtaking the early leaders. Wells/Darling and Lucas/Longstaff nailed this trick with Lucas executing a better exit from the gybe mark to lead at the Leeward Mark from Wells & then Lovering. Up the next beat, which was a slightly right-handed track, Lucas sailed solidly under pressure from Wells and Lovering. This battle continued for the next two laps, until the final beat when they were joined by Cadwallader/Sweet who had stayed out of the short tacking  ‘in your face-take that’ action of the front 3 and carefully worked the right side. The lead swapped a few times at the top of the last beat, all of the top four might have had the lead at some point. Eventually race three was settled on the last run; Lucas and Lovering straight set with Cadwallader and Wells gybe-setting. Lucas held firm with his pointy elbows stuck out to take a well deserved bullet, Lovering just sneaked ahead of Wells at the bottom of the run with Cadwallader/Sweet fourth.

Day two
Race four eventually got away after a fair bit of bobbing around whilst the course was reset after a significant left shift and a recalled first start, then some more general recall and abandoned start action. Eventually the race was under way, a decent-sized right shift at the top of the first beat was good for the boats positioned to gain from it and at the front; five quality crews stepped clear of the fleet and for three laps of four had a good tussle. Unfortunately, Apthorpe/Clark who were leading at the time, and the next four placed boats, believing the race to be shortened, or about to be shortened, sailed past the leeward mark with kites up to the hook finish. The Committee Boat was on station but was it the finish? It would appear to the rest of the fleet that it was not the finish as there were no shortened course flags, so the boats from sixth place and lower doused spinnakers at the penultimate leeward mark and chugged back upwind for the fourth lap. After the reshuffle Lovering/Alvarado eventually crossed the finishing line before anyone else, followed by Goacher/Evans in second and Wells/Darling in third place. Ironically, Lovering/Alvarado in ‘Hyde Sails’ really rode their luck in race four as during the last general recalled start of this race they were sailing backwards full of water with no vang after a shackle failed just before the five-minute gun! They would have been dead last off the line, but thanks to a general recall and some finish line confusion ended up with a first place!

Race 5 and a large left shift half way up the 1st beat meant those with a good start pegging it on starboard for longest came out looking good. Cadwallader/Sweet nailed it, as did Apthorpe/Clarke and Goacher/Evans. Anyone thinking that a right shift might still be in play on this beat got pasted. The first three boats were clear of the pack and all over each other for the entirety of the race. Watching the action unfold from the cheap seats, it looked like there were numerous place changes. Eventually Cadwallader took a really well deserved bullet, with Goacher second and Apthorpe third. Lovering scrambled to fourth whilst Wells had given himself a bit to do to win overall with a sixth.

The last race of the weekend, got away with most of the fleet looking to get to the left of the beat anticipating the same shift from race five. This race the right paid and Lovering/Alvarado led at the top mark having played that side of the beat. There wasn’t much in it, with the boats from the left led by local boys Dobson/Saxton and then Goacher/Evans. At the gybe mark, Dobson had an overlap on Lovering and sneaked ahead and then on the second reach Goacher overtook Lovering as well. Up the second beat and the heavier teams of Goacher and Lovering used their lard/horsepower to sail away from the fleet. Over the next three laps Lovering threw everything he had at Goacher, though he held on to win the last race and take his second bullet of the weekend. Cadwallader/Sweet wrapped up a solid event with a third place, Apthorpe/Clarke were fourth , followed by Lucas/Longstaff in fifth.

Overall winners of the Grafham Water event were Lovering/Alvarado in the only Hyde Sails powered boat, counting a very consistent set of results. Second and third overall were the legendary teams of Steve Goacher / Phil Evans and Greg Wells / Mark Darling.

To find out more about Hyde’s Flying 15 sails, contact or see the class pages

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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