Catapult Final TT: Grafham Cat Open
Saturday 15th - Sunday 16th October2010

Home Page

Sailing Programme 2010

Results and Reports

   The Travelling Trophy victory for 2010 hinged on the last set of races at Grafham Cat Open, with Gareth Ede and Paul Ellis going in on equal points. The Cat Open seemed bigger than ever, but in the Mixed Handicap fleet the seven Catapults were the largest part, with the Shearwaters elsewhere this year.

On Saturday the brisk Northerlies, blowing 3-4 and gusting 5 made for cold but invigorating racing. The club set the task of completing three races back to back in the Saturday and Sunday sessions. All the races had the same port-rounding rectangular course giving two short reaches and a longer beat and dead run.

The Sprint 15s were out in force, and their big fleet starting 5 minutes earlier on almost the same course (with a separate leeward mark) gave some interesting tactical decisions.

fleet at grafham

(Above: spot the Catapult: a small part of the Open fleet waits on Sunday morning at Grafham.)

The start of Race 1 revealed that the handful of Dart 18s would use a high-risk strategy of coming fast from windward hoping to find a gap and go down the line before the gun. A front group of Gareth Ede, Paul Ellis and Alastair Forrest emerged from the first beat to lead round the first lap. Only Gareth and John Terry were consistently trapezing in the gusty wind.

   The tactical decision on the beat after the gate was either to tack right onto port up the middle looking for clear air, or to continue to the left through the running Sprint 15 fleet, aiming for a lift coming across to the mark (and hoping to avoid more Sprints while on the long port tack)

Taking the second option, John got a big lift to pull up to third, while George Evans gained steadily upwind, to take fourth and then catch John before the finish. Alastair out to the right was pushed back, keeping distance over Stuart Ede. but had to fight good lifts for Chris Phillips coming across

In Race 2, Alastair’s good start and beat took him to the top mark first in the Catapults with only two of the mixed fleet nearby. He looked back to see a shambles in the large bunch rounding behind, and in this melee Paul was pushed up to stall on port dead in front of Stuart, also unable to manoeuvre, all held back getting going again or doing 360’.

Alastair held the lead for the next lap, gradually whittled away until he was taken by Gareth and George, who then battled for the front until Gareth pulled away. John came up through the fleet to hold third. Paul came up, but then suffered another port-starboard incident to go back. Alastair pulled back to lead George, but in the final short beat to the line George sliced lower for speed to the line to take fourth by a boat-length.

By Race 3, the breeze was up and swinging 20’ to 30’, delaying the start in the cold. John had a storming start with speed off the line trapezing, and he stretched out to a good lead, with Paul and Gareth moving out of the fleet after him.

The delayed start let the Sprints come round their first lap to mix in, with packed boats at the windward mark and on the flat run. On lap 2, John lost the mainsheet trapezing, taking time to recover from crashing back onto the water without capsizing, allowing Paul Ellis to take over the lead with Gareth Ede in hot pursuit.

The lead changed a several times but eventually Gareth gained a small margin and held onto it to the finish. Meanwhile George had climbed through the fleet on the first run and then on the third beat to close the gap on the leaders sufficiently to claim a close third.


grafham light

  On Sunday (photo above) the forecast high pressure system arrived, with a steady light northerly allowing the boats to keep moving briskly enough to demonstrate that light-wind racing has its own excitement.

  In Race 4, John got well away, at the front on the line and moving fast. He was chased by Gareth and Alastair going lower for speed, with Paul characteristically able to climb to windward pointing higher.

 Gareth pulled up to lead John and Paul, with the fleet close together. On the next long beat, Alastair and Stuart made an early tack to the right-hand side, to seek clear air, but lost badly. In the battle at the front, the second lap order became John, Paul, and then Gareth, but in turn Paul and Gareth pulled ahead of John.

 On the dead run, Alastair caught back George and closed up on John (perhaps indicating that pulling a deep camber in the sail in these rare downwind circumstances is working)

 For the final long dead run, the three leaders were virtually equal, but Gareth lost distance seeking speed away from the direct course. Paul gained the inside berth at the turn from John and was just able to protect this for the short reach and beat to the line, crossing with John too close to call on the water but confirmed as a win.

 At the back, Alastair gained downwind again, holding 100 yards over Stuart at the turn for home, only to watch a 30’ wind shift behind him, allowing Stuart to head straight to the Committee boat and a boat-length win.

drifting conditions at grafham cat open


As Race 5 started, the wind swung through 30’ and died (photo above). The Race Officer held on through postponements, but after reports that the Sprint fleet was dead in the water up ahead, he brought everybody home, with the event to be decided on four races with a discard.

                                                                     RESULTS AND PLACES

                        Gareth Ede                       Filey SC                    1     1    1    (3)     3 points

                        Paul Ellis                           Marconi SC               2   (5)  2      1       5
                        George Evans                  Bala Cat Club           3     2    3    (4)     8
                        John Terry                        Rutland SC                4     3  (5)    2       9
                        Alastair Forrest              CCA                             5     4    6    (6)    15
                        Stuart Ede                        Filey SC                    (6)   6    4      5      15
                        Chris Phillips                    CCA                           (7)   7    7     7       21