WPNSA hosted the first Harken 29er Grand Prix of the 2018/19 season and RYA and Class Squads Selector on a blustery weekend in September.
The forecast had been monitored carefully for the week prior to the event looking at times sailable to at times cries of ‘no way are we getting some sailing in!’ However, the weekend settled down somewhat - enough for a confident and educated decision by Race Officer Ian Bullock to go ahead.
Saturday began with deceptively light winds which lead to an initial postponement. However, as the foreboding clouds approached, so did the breeze, building quickly from 10 to 25 knots through the races.
A challenge for the 56 boat fleet and especially the transitioning boats. Three competitive races were carried out in squally, blustery, very wet, conditions.
Everyone, including shore teams, looked like they’d taken a swim. As the breeze continued to increase, the decision was made to send the fleet in as visibility was continuing to decline. So we saw the beginning of GP day one with Zac Blomeley and Ewan Luke in first place.
After two races, however, all changed and at the end of the day‘s racing Fin Armstrong and Ewan Wilson came through to lead on joint points with Henry Jameson and Louis Johnson in second with Zac and Ewan dropping to third.
Sunday began with the forecast looking marginal (as it had all week). However, a break in the weather allowed the Race Officer to quickly get in three more races in changeable and again testing conditions. But what a difference a day makes -the sun came out, we were all dry but it was a bit on the chilly side and the wind blew strong. Following a postponement, whilst waiting for the wind to subside somewhat, Class Coach Niall Myant and Alice Masterman, ably assisted by a few of the senior sailors, imparted their knowledge to the new sailors.
The fleet then launched in 15 to 20 knots. The shore team were a great help. But the day was saved by the work of the UK 29er Class’s own beach god and hero ‘Mitch Buchannon’ aka Harry Fox who delayed his own launch to assist the newcomers with their lively launching.
Henry Jameson and Louis Johnson won the first race of the day, Rupert Jameson and James Hall put in a great race to finish an amazing 4th in the second race - both new partnerships to the fleet so augers well for their future sailing.
After a great three races, the positions remained the same as day one, Fin and Ewan gave another strong performance with four 1sts overall to be overall winners of GP1, Henry and Louis a close 2nd, Zac and Ewan 3rd.
First girls Freya Black and Millie Aldridge with Charlotte Ormerod and Jess Jobson a close 2nd girls and Charlotte Gordon and Anna Rowe taking 3rd girls.
Karma prevailed and Sonia Evans and Harry Fox had a well-deserved second in the last race and took the first mixed pairing overall. Second Mixed were Annie Hammett and Zac Caldwell with third Mixed Ben Batchelor and Lucy Hewitson. First Juniors (making a habit of it!) Sian Talbot and Madelaine Bristow.
Second Juniors were Ethan Gerrell and Ben Bradley with an impressive 15th in the last race of the event. Third Juniors were Sam Jones and Jake Atkins already up there at the front of the fleet in the lighter airs - 14th in Race one of the event.
It was great to see so many newcomers to the class at this event, we hope to see you all at GP2 in Lymington October 13/14 and hope the windy conditions haven’t put anyone off.
The seniors have been wishing for more wind all year after having to sail in light wind conditions for the whole of last season so were thrilled to have exciting sailing.