Catapult TT at Grafham Invitation Cat Open : October 26th 2013

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 The final event for 2013 at Grafham  had its  dramas, with the impending Sunday storm. and dark gusts across the reservoir on Saturday morning. Seven Catapults made up most of the Medium Handicap Fleet, racing on the customary Grafham trapezoid course to port, starting behind the Dart 18 Singlehanded Championships and a big Sprint 15 fleet.

 The Club packed in four back-to-back races on Saturday, given the Sunday forecast. (This was five hours on the water!  -- the Catapults started on Flag W, also signalling "in need of medical attention".) The stiff breeze  brought reduced rigs out on three boats (Gareth and Stuart Ede with low cut 7.5 sqm rigs, and Paul Ellis with the reduced-roach sail cut by John Peperell, keeping the full luff length.) 

 It felt daunting down the lake at the start boat for Race one, but Gareth trapezxing with the small rig had immediate good speed and pointing ability, catching Alastair after the start and stretching out into a lead held to the finish. George Evans, welcoming the strong breeze, once again pushed up to windward in the gusts, steadily eking out a lead over Alastair, both with the full rig. Alastair gained downwind but was always losing a little more to George upwind, who completed a  good second to Gareth. With the cut down sail giving more control, Paul did not risk trapezing after experimenting in the gusty shifting breeze, to follow in fourth.

  Unexpectedly, by  Race two  the wind dropped back, still with hard gusts but with flatter patches, and marked swings in direction, and the7.5 sqm rigs were quickly suffering. George again with good upwind speed pulled in Alastair and Paul's start advantage, then holding the lead. Paul's full-luff rig kept up-wind speed, and although Alastair caught some back downwind, he was not able to catch Paul for the second place.

  Race 3 brought the strong wind back up, and the small rigs came back into contention, with Paul having good upwind speed. He made sure of the starboard pole position from Alastair to hold first at the top mark. In the gusts on the top reach, Gareth watched closely as  Alastair with the full rig was caught by a short blast, nose-diving before getting weight far enough back---but  the boat stopped deep in, and bobbed backwards out again, Alastair surviving clinging to the back. As the race progressed, Gareth, trapezing and pointing well with the small rig, caught Paul and moved ahead.

 This time Alastair held off George on the upwind legs, and gained on Paul on the runs, until closing on Paul on the final run he tried to gybe and  swing across Paul's stern to capture the inner  mark rounding position. He failed to allow for the dramatic acceleration once not dead downwind, and crashed disastrously, spinning Paul. George sailed through between them to take second, chased to the line by Paul.

  By Race 4 the wind again lightened overall, swinging abruptly and still with the gusts mixed with light patches, with unpredictable big gains or losses reaching or downwind. Stuart took the port end start successfully but with the small rig fell steadily to the back. George again pulled up steadily upwind after the start, nipping in at the top mark to catch Alastair, and Chris had good upwind boat speed in spite of nursing a stress fracture at the rudder pintle, these three catching Gareth as the light patches cut speed dramaticaly. George gradually extended his lead to firmly nail the event.

Sunday dawned sunny, but the thrashing hedgerows on the way to the reservoir, the gusts across the water, and the waves breaking on the far shore brought a swift cancellation of racing, so the four Saturday races, with a discard, decided the event.

In this last 2013 TT event, Gareth had an unassailable
position at the top of the
Leader  Board with rival John Terry not competing. George Evans' event victory gave him third in the TT by a point.

Alastair Forrest

     (One discard)

           1st      George Evans        (2)      1          2           1             4

nd      Gareth Ede             1       (4)         1           4              6

rd      Alastair Forrest      3         3         (4)          2             8

th      Paul Ells                   4          2          3          (8)           9

th     Stuart Ede              (8)        5          5           5            15

th      Chris Phillips          (8)        8          6           3            17

th      Syd Gage                (8)        8           8           8           24

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