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Gul RS700 Grand Prix Eastbourne Sovereign SC

    Photo: Ricky Whitmore

    Snakes and ladders for the 700’s at Eastbourne.

    The RS700 fleet rolled into Eastbourne for the 5th event of the2011 Gul GP series along with the 200’s and 800’s.  Saturday at Eastbourne was warm and sunny with a NW 10-15 kts blowing directly offshore which meant some very shifty and gusty conditions at the windward end of the race course and a lot more power at the leeward end making laylines tricky.

    Off the start line for Race1 everyone tacked off on to port to stay offshore and Rob Jones took the lead over Jamie Ferguson who was sailing faster but lower. At the layline most went quite early but were able to catch a lift and some considerable tide to make the top mark but Tony Dencher was able to gun it down from high of the layline to slot into second behind Rob . Downwind everyone put in at least 3 gybes to avoid the lee of the beach and the RS200 fleet but many were still caught out by the strong tide which made it hard to soak low enough to the mark. Tony got it very wrong to capsize on top of the mark and so it was Jamie who led up the next beat followed by Ian Nolan and Rob. Ian was right on Rob heels by the windward mark followed by Jamie but with Rob and Jamie both having problems down the run, Dan catching a strong gust to fly down the middle and Tony gambling with a gybe off at the windward mark to catch the stronger breeze offshore earlier and scream downwind, it was all by change the leeward mark : Dan followed by Tony then Ian. By the top of the last run Ian had come through to take lead from Dan down the right and Tony had gone left again. Tony's gamble paid off again with him finding more wind to overtake and take the race win.

    Race 2 was sailed in similar conditions with the race course still quite one-sided as the windward mark was a long way off to the right. The whole fleet were very close up the first beat with us all gaining from a large lift up towards the mark. Ian rounded first followed by Tony then Colin Dacey heading down the run but Tony suffered a kite halyard malfunction and dropped back. By the next windward mark Rob and Jamie had come through in to second and third behind Ian but down the run Tony crept back up to third. Up the penultimate beat Rob made a fatal tack off to try to clear his air leaving Tony to challenge Ian down the run. A wrap of the kite sheet around the ratchet block was enough to slow Ian's takeoff at the hoist and allow Tony to accelerate over the top. A wind shift had by now made it a completely single leg run and one-sided beat which gave Ian no opportunity to recover around the next lap and so Tony extended his lead to the finish.

    For race 3 the course was squared up by shifting the windward mark along the beach to the pier. Off the start line Ian and then Colin made the most of a port biased line to take the leading spots at the windward mark. Again Tony did well out of gybing at the mark to catch more breeze and slip into the lead at the bottom mark. Tony and then Ian extended their lead over the next lap but on the last lap there was cruelly large shift as the wind switched to blow the other way around Beachy Head, which gave the others their opportunity. So down the "run" which was by now too tight to hold the kite, Jamie now lead from Colin and then Dan who held their positions to the finish despite some frantic kite dropping.

    On Sunday morning it was looking like the same again but during the sail to the startline the wind suddenly shifted SW to come around Beachy Head and gusted up to 20kts - resulting in an embarrassing capsize for Tony even before making the start line, damaging his pump cleat in the process!

    With the race course shifted round 90 degrees race 4 got under way with everyone going for speed off on starboard tack, negotiating large waves and strong gusts. Most went for the tack across fairly early to get into flatter water by the windward mark. By the top mark Tony was first to attempt the bear-away and hoist which went OK, which is more than can be said for gybe further downwind. With Tony swimming Dan took the lead at the leeward mark but a fluffed tack saw him relinquish it again. By the second windward rounding Tony was back in the lead but closely followed by Dan and Colin who had found the inshore flatter route up the beat to be quicker. Tony was now sailing in safe mode and taking a short port leg out before tacking round and then hoisting for a longer leg to the leeward mark, but even this wasn't enough to keep him upright. Especially with a malfunctioning pump cleat on the drop it was all too easy to nosedive or roll it in. Colin also rolled it in right on top of the leeward mark but took the race after some confusion over course-shortening.

    For race 5 the windspeed seemed to have increased if anything and the windsurfers were flying around. Luckily the yacht race which had made downwind legs rather scary in the race 4 had left the area, so we only had 800s and 200s to dodge now! It was all to play for up the beats but downwind Tony's safe mode sailing paid off although even tacking around in the waves was now becoming tricky!

    Only the truly hardy sailors stayed out for race 6. Most had retired after breaking themselves or their boat, or were concerned about the possibility of breakages before the nationals, which left Jamie to show his stamina and take the win from Colin.

    All in all a great event, with the complete range of conditions. Sunday certainly showed Eastbourne at its best and I'm sure most of us won't forget the white-knuckle downwind rides for quite a while!  Overall Tony was the clear winner from a much improved Jamie Ferguson with Colin Dacey filling the last spot on the podium. 

    For those who are interested the GPS tracks from the Saturday races are available on www.hamishgriffiths.com.  It’s fascinating to watch the shifts, bends and gusts coming through and their varying effects on the races

    Our thanks go to the Eastbourne Sovereign who as ever provided one of the warmest welcomes of any club, with a special mention to the beach crews who make the whole launching and recovery process so straightforward.  Our thanks also go to Gul for their continued sponsorship.

    Next up it is the combined National and European Championship in Weymouth on the 19th August.  See you there!

    Tony Dencher

    RS700 Open 2011 Final Results
    RS700 Open 2011 Final Results PDF Print

    RS700 Open 2011 Overall

    Let us know how we done - Provide Feedback

    Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 6, Scoring system: Appendix A

    1st 44
    RS700 870 Tony Dencher Netley 1.0 1.0 4.0 2.0 1.0 (7.0 DNC) 16.0 9.0
    2nd 45
    RS700 786 Jamie Ferguson Oxford (5.0) 3.0 1.0 4.0 2.0 1.0 16.0 11.0
    3rd 42
    RS700 758 Colin Dacey Grafham (4.0) 4.0 2.0 1.0 3.0 2.0 16.0 12.0
    4th 43
    RS700 904 Daniel Azzopardi Oxford 3.0 5.0 3.0 3.0 (7.0 DNF) 7.0 DNC 28.0 21.0
    5th 41 Sail 4 Cancer RS700 993 Ian Nolan Snettisham Beach SC 2.0 2.0 5.0 (7.0 DNF) 7.0 DNC 7.0 DNC 30.0 23.0
    6th 46
    RS700 769 Rob Jones Weston / Warsash 6.0 (7.0 DNS) 7.0 DNC 7.0 DNF 7.0 DNC 7.0 DNC 41.0 34.0



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