Catapult TT at Grafham Cat Open

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The final event of the  2018 racing Programme  
was again a TT as part of Grafham Cat Open  on October 20-22nd. Third time lucky (after two attempts at Grafham Opens were blown off the water) we had Indian Summer sunshine with light-moderate and easily sailable SW breeze. Grafham again gave excellent racing, and again we shared the course with a big Sprint fleet (with a usefully-separate bottom mark.) Catapult with eight helms was the third biggest fleet on the Open Event. The club set their usual rectangular course, with a long beat and flat run, and two shorter tight reaches, with  an additional  last mark so that the Sprint fleet separated at least a bit  in the short beat to the committee boat through the start-finish line.

(Above: inching towards the Race 1 start in the light breeze.) (All photos from Syd Gage's on-board camera)

  In Race 1 Stuart Ede was early to the line, bore away and tried a port-end start, but this went disastrously, having to cross behind the fleet; however this took him out to the right where he gained from good pressure and lifted back to third  by the top mark. Avoiding the congested starboard end pack by going low and fast, Gareth Ede got away up the beat. Paul Ellis climbed to windward, chased closely by Syd Gage. Behind,  Chris Phillips had good upwind speed to move away from the rest.

Paul pulled up on Gareth, until he battle between themwas unfortunately ended on lap 2 by a Sprint 15 running into the back of Paul on the run, despite his being the right-of-way boat. The precious seconds lost let Gareth to get ahead, and John Terry slip past into second, held to the finish, with Chris fourth.
Stuart missed the gate starting upwind for the second lap  but his upwind speed let him recover and take Alastair Forrest back again for fifth, and Syd Gage had the first of their battles, taking the other places.

 In Race 2 from a tight starboard pack start Gareth was fast away but hit a hole in the breeze to the right allowing the others to come up, with Chris again fast up wind with his Dacron sail. Paul Ellis characteristically lifted to windward from Committee end of the start to battle with Gareth, with Mike Gough following him to leeward. John, blanketed at the start, elected to go far out to the right on the first beat, followed by Syd, which paid dividends, in an early lead for John, with Paul and Gareth  second and third.

 Syd stayed with them after a good first beat until turning just too early onto the lay line and putting in extra tacks, but caught up downwind,  Alastair and Stuart close. 

On lap 2, John and Paul continued from the gate up the lefthand side of the beat, and Gareth seized the opportunity to go out to the right where there was still better wind, leapfrogging into first place.

(Right: Syd Gage (camera) chases Chris Phillips down the long flat run.)

 On lap 3, Gareth again went  right on the beat but this time found a wind hole and slumped back to third behind John and Paul. Worryingly the rest of the fleet benefited from a wind shift and started closing in on Gareth. John, Paul and Gareth held 1st, 2nd and 3rd to the finish. Chris Phillips was characteristically fast upwind wind threatening the front boats.  Syd Gage's downwind speed caught Alastair, to battle with Chris, but they were pushed away from the mark on the end of the run by a pack of downwind Sprints, letting Alastair through,  but Chris' upwind speed lifted him back to fourth.

In Race 3,  following back to back, John Alastair and Stuart picked the port end advantage but in the mixed fleet with the faster Prindle and Dart 18, getting across the starboard pack was risky.

 John Terry, hitting the line on the gun, made it across and Alastair was able to duck beneath two bigger boats, but Stuart was caught by them and then the whole pack of Catapults. John and Alastair continued out to the right, gaining well.  John took the lead., with
 Paul, Gareth and Alastair  hot on his heels.

 Alastair got past Gareth on the run , into third, but on lap 2, Gareth climbed back past Alastair and then Paul, with John in his sights Up the beat on lap 3, Gareth climbed to windward of John. On the port tack across to find the lay line for the top mark, John was caught by a starboard Sprint 15, and lost  ground to Gareth, who held the lead to the finish
The others came up downwind, and  Stuart tore in from the top reach  to carry over Alastair to take fourth.

(Above: Stuart crosses ahead of Alastair, Race )

   On Sunday the wind was due to pick up in the WSW, but did not build beyond light-moderate, providing easy  racing but with gains during the stronger bursts. On each lap, the long downwind leg had the challenges of deciding when to gybe with the breeze shifting a few degrees each way, as well as avoiding the Sprint fleet in laps two and three.

(Below: John Terry tacks ahead of Syd (camera) as Stuart Ede comes across at speed, Race 4.)

Upwind, by the second lap in each race the Catapults were again catching the big Sprint fleet. Although it was hard to pick the best upwind course, most Catapults continued out left and then put in a long port board along the shore (not suffering any blanketing from the shore) but with the risk of meeting  a pack of Sprints on the starboard  coming to the mark, needing to duck below them or risk being blanketed. Downwind, the Sprints tacked (without obvious advantage) but this meant a group might be coming into the downwind mark on starboard when the Catapults approached on port running dead downwind. 

  In Race 4 Stuart got away from the pack of starboard starters, and a good choice of tacks placed him second at the top mark behind Gareth. John Terry was forced to tack out right, cahsed closely by Syd. Stuart defended his position down-wind from John, with Syd close behind, holding this around the second lap Syd arriving at the turn at the downwind mark with a useful lead over Paul and John, holding this across the tight reach and into the final short beat.

However they were able to crowd up on him, and Paul could hold him out wide and grab the second, with Stuart just holding off

(Right: Alastair chases Stuart downwind, not able to dent his lead, towards the line of Sprints ahead.)

By Race 5, following back-to-back, the breeze had picked up, with benefits to be gained up the left hand side, but the choice remained difficult, as there were bursts of good wind blowing in from the west, along the shore west of the windward mark, and a header along the south shore to be taken into account. The starboard end by the committee boat was becoming more crowded with a clashing of plastic and aluminium (but no obvious 360'.) Paul continued his consistent strategy of coming in at the starboard end behind the pack, confident that he could then climb fast to windward and meet the front boats as they came across.

 Gareth started fast further down the line getting away well, into a lead. John, also fast away, got behind a group of Sprints, and tacked early getting clear air lifting him on lap1, but he was not able to hold out against Gareth and Paul. Behind, Syd came fast upwind to threaten Alastair on lap 2, but coming across on port tight on the mark met a wall of Sprints on starboard, pushing him away below and past the mark, then having to gybe round to avoid the boats streaming down the reach. Alastair kept ahead of Stuart to the last mark, but Stuart hauled up on him in the last short beat to the line to take fourth by half a boat-length. Chris and Syd dead-heated for sixth.

(Below: the crowded start for Race 5 )

 For Race 6, the starboard end pack was even more crowded and Chris was forced across the line at the committee boat. John bore away for a very fast start, getting well out in front. Gareth with a poor start was down in sixth at the windward mark, but never one to turn down a challenge, clawed his way back up to third over the next lap and a half, overtaking first Chris, then Alastair and Stuart.

A good choice of tacks on the left of the beat on lap 3 saw Gareth make up significant ground on John and overtake Paul.
  He pushed John hard down the final run, and John nearly threw away his narrow lead on the reach by heading towards the wrong mark. He just managed to hold off Gareth to the finish, only to find he had been over the line bearing away at the start!

Alastair Forrest, Gareth Ede and John Terry, and Syd's video.


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Gareth Ede 1 (3) 1 1 1 1 8 5
2nd Paul Ellis 3 2 3 2 2 2 14 11
3rd John Terry 2 1 2 4 3 (9UFD) 21 12
4th Stuart Ede 5 (6) 5 3 4 3 26 20
5th Alastair Forrest (6) 5 4 5 5 4 29 23
6th Chris Phillips 4 4 7 8 6.5 (9UFD) 38.5 29.5
7th Syd Gage 7 7 (8) 8 6.5 5 40.5 32.5
8th Mike Gough (8) 8 6 6 6 42 42 34


Rank Helm R1
R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
1st Chris Phillips 1 1 1 5 1.5 (9UFD) 18.5 9.5
2nd Syd Gage
2 2 2 4 1.5 (5) 16.5 11.5
3rd Stuart Ede 4 3 (6) 1 4 3 20 14
4th Paul Ellis 3 5 3 2 (6) 2 21 15
5th Alastair Forrest (5) 4 4 3 4 4 24 19
6th Gareth Ede (8) 8 7 7 5 1 36 28
7th Mike Gough  6 7 5 6 (8) 6 38 30
8th       John Terry 7 6 8 8 7 (9UFD) 45 36

    Gareth's clear win, counting 5 firsts,  further sealed his season victory for the Jon Montgomery Travelling Trophy for 2018  (TT Leaderboard .) Behind, Alastair Forrest and Stuart Ede went into the event just a point apart, and although Stuart was a clear fourth at Grafham, the narrowest of margins (a count-back to the number of first, then second, then third, and finally fourth places in the season!) allowed Alastair to take the TT second place.

Stuart also went into the final event on top of the
2018 Handicap
Leaderboard  but with only five points covering first three. Chris Phillips was a clear handicap winner with his upwind speed throughout the Grafham weekend, ahead of Syd Gage, but they could not displace Stuart from his second podium place for the 2018 season.

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