Championship Winners Graham Vials & Chris Turner
Flying 15 Inlands Championships and World Qualifiers 2018
The 2018 Flying Fifteen Inland Championships were sailed on the weekend of June 9th-10th at Grafham Water Sailing Club. The event was designated a qualifier for the next World Championships, to be held at the National Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire from 2nd-13th September, 2019), which undoubtedly contributed to the strength of the entry list – 33 boats from all the most active English clubs, together with crews from Wales and Belgium.
The forecast (warm with winds of 5-6 knots from the NNE) proved accurate and the racing provided mostly cerebral, rather than physical challenges. Conditions were especially demanding for the race team, led by PRO John Aston, who did well to start proceedings on schedule and to complete three races on the first afternoon. Sunday was another story, of which more later! The Sailing Instructions made provision for three courses – Triangle-Sausage, Sausage-Triangle and Windward-Leeward, all featuring a leeward gate. In the event – and wisely, given the conditions – all races were sailed over the Windward-Leeward course.
Race 1 began with the customary general recalls, at which point, the PRO deployed his magic black flag and imposed order on proceedings. There is surely a case for avoiding this ritual by use of the black flag from the outset?
Steve Goacher (4021) led off at the favoured pin end, closely followed by Graham Vialls (4035) and Greg Wells (4030). It was then a case of playing the shifts and avoiding the holes: those who went left, led by Greg Wells (4030) benefitted from a big starboard-tack lift into the mark and Greg held a lead of perhaps 5 – 8 lengths at the windward mark. Brett Dingwall, sailing a 1960-vintage wooden classic (397) was also showing good speed and was well in the mix.
Downwind, it proved slower to follow the direct (port-gybe) course than to stay high on starboard and gybe later. Greg preserved his apparently dominant position and began the second, and final, lap with an impressive lead. However, Graham persevered, chipping away to good effect and was finally rewarded to take race 1, followed by Greg and, In 3rd place, Pip Hudson (3889). Brett Dingwall completed an impressive race in 4th place.
For the remainder of the afternoon it was more of the same, though the breeze tended to weaken progressively. In Race 2, local heroes Simon Kneller & Dave Lucas (4024) roused themselves from their earlier siesta to deploy years of experience of Grafham conditions and take the race from Ian Cadwallader (4055) in second place and the ever-present Greg Wells in 3rd.
The third race start was a bump and nudge affair – several crews at the front of the fleet, having extricated themselves well from the chaos, chose the left side of the beat and, this time, found that, by the windward mark, they had lost out. It was notable how well the top crews were able to put such misfortunes behind them, to ‘Shut Up and Move On’ and to focus on minimising the damage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, therefore, the results sheet began to take on a familiar appearance, with Graham Vialls once again leading the fleet, followed this time by Ian Pinnell (4060) and the evergreen Brett Dingwall.
Sunday morning’s race was started (after yet another general recall) in a slightly fresher breeze, still from the NNE and still full of holes and shifts.
The downwind leg, in particular, became a lottery, with no rhyme or reason as to which way was the best way to go. As boats sought pressure, the fleet spread far and wide. After the now customary two laps, there were some new names at the front: Hamish Mackay (4059) led the fleet home, followed by Ian Cadwallader (4055) and David Tabb (4052).
A significant wind shift during the start of Race 5 led to postponement, followed by a ¾ hour wait. By this time, several boats decided to vote with their paddle and head back to shore and the PRO eventually bowed to the inevitable and, around 14.30, signalled the end of the weekend’s procedures.
The final results (top six places) were as follows:
First Graham Vials & Chris Turner (8 points)
Second Brett & Ben Dingwall (12 points)
Third Greg Wells & Andrew Jameson (14 points)
Fourth Ian Cadwallader & Steve Graham (16 points)
Fifth Hamish Mackay & Andrew Lawson (17 points)
Sixth Pip Hudson & Mick Musgrove / Alice Hudson (19 points)
Grafham Water SC