K6 Gul Grand Prix – Carsington Sailing Club 2011
Ten K6s arrived at a windless Carsington for the first event in the Gul Grand Prix series
on the morning of Saturday 19th March. Three new partnerships on the water for the
first time here – Chris Hulme/Sue Shaw (who finished sixth overall with a best place of
third); Phil Waterfall/David Hall (who somehow managed to forget that he was
supposed to bringing a boom up with him from Rondar) and John Tabor with John Slack
(who had responded to a “plea for crew” earlier in the month). Fortunately the wind
filled in as forecast by lunchtime – nothing to write home about but, at 6 knots, enough
to allow the afternoon’s programme of racing to start on time at 1300.
The first race was limited to two laps as the PRO tested out just what would be possible
in the conditions. On the last downwind leg, locals Blake/Lucas went left to cover most
of the fleet; Hyde/Fidgeon (also Carsington) took a bit of a flier and went right; this
paid off for them as they rounded the bottom mark a couple of boats lengths ahead
and held the lead to the line. Garner/Harvey completed a Carsington 1-2-3.
Race 2 saw last year’s winners, Kirkby/Mogielnicki (HISC), out in front by a “country
mile” (appropriate for the setting) with Blake/Lucas again coming in second and
National Champions Hitchcock/Nicholson (HISC), rapidly re-familiarising themselves
with the boat after a six month absence, in third.
Race 3 saw the real dramas of the day unfold. The first two laps were completed in
just over the half hour with Garner/Harvey (Carsington) in a commanding lead
rounding the bottom mark for the second time ahead of Hitchcock/Nicholson and
Blake/Lucas. The PRO decided not to shorten the course at this point so the fleet
went around for a third time. Whilst Garner/Harvey found a band of wind (seemingly
the only one on the water) on the left hand side which took them straight down to
finish, the rest struggled to find anything at all as they approached the top mark.
Hitchcock/Nicholson and Blake/Lucas also went left, whereupon the wind that
Garner/Harvey had enjoyed promptly died; the rest of the fleet went right and got first
use of the wind when it filled in on that side, enabling Hyde/Fidgeon, Hulme/Shaw
(Carsington) and Waterfall/Hall (Carsington/Thorpe Bay) to jump ahead of them.
Back ashore in time to watch the Ireland-England rugby and have an early supper,
courtesy of The Galley, followed by “the best beer on the tour” at The Red Lion in
Day 2 and the promised 8 to 9 knots of wind was there for the first race at 1000 and
held for the rest of the series. Hitchcock/Nicholson, now back into the swing of the
boat, got their first bullet of the weekend; they were followed home by Hyde/Fidgeon
and Kirkby/Mogielnicki. Garner/Harvey, despite misreading the flags on the committee
boat and crossing the line with the 700 Fleet at the end of the second lap (this was a
combined event), held their position and finished in fourth, just ahead of Blake/Lucas.
The same boats also formed the top five for the fifth race with Garner/Harvey, now
paying close attention to the flags, getting their second bullet of the weekend. One
race left and everything still to play for.
The last race of the day saw Garner/Harvey and Hyde/Fidgeon throwing everything
back into the melting pot with their worst results of the event (6th and 8th respectively)
and Blake/Lucas securing another third to keep them in the running for the prizes.
The real drama was at the front of the fleet where Hitchcock/Nicholson, rounding the
last mark just ahead of Kirkby/Mogielnicki, decided to drop their kite for the reach to
the line. Kirkby/ Mogielnicki opted to carry theirs and rapidly gained ground on the
leading boat, forcing Hitchcock/Nicholson to go for a hoist to try to hold their position.
It was too little too late with Kirkby/Mogielnicki snatching their second bullet of the
event by a couple of feet on the line.
Testament to the closeness of the racing was the fact that as the boats came off the
water no one had any idea who had won the event. In the end Blake/Lucas were left
rueing the last lap of Race 3, which saw them fall from third to sixth as the wind
dropped; they finished fourth with a score of 15. Just ahead of them on 13 were three
boats: Hitchcock/Nicholson (lowest total points scored before the one race discard)
came third, the last race kite drop leaving them with a single race win. That left two
boats, both with two bullets and with identical scores in their other three races to count
– in the end Garner/Harvey pipped Kirkby/Mogielnicki to first place on the basis of a
better discarded score.
An excellent weekend of tremendously close racing in varied conditions – apparently
the 700s were there too but our racing was so good that no one noticed.
Many thanks to Carsington Sailing Club and all who helped to look after us; particularly
to Carsington K6 owner and 2012 ARO, Henry Wright (our PRO) and his team for
managing the challenging conditions on Day 1 so well. Thanks to all who turned out
and made the event so enjoyable; we hope to see more of you next year.