Grafham Cat Open, 20-21 October 2001

Location: Grafham Water Sailing Club, Near St. Neots.

On the weekend of 20/21 October the Dart 15s met at Grafham for the last event of the traveller's trophy series. 21 competitors entered and on Saturday, race officer, Mike St Paer and his team, set a trapezoidal course for the Dart 15s who were the first start of a complicated series of starts which included Shearwaters, Vortexs, Hobbie 16s and a handicap fleet. The wind was a shifty, south easterly force 2.

At the first race start there was the sounds of crunching fibre-glass on the start line as an unfortunate competitor suffered an involuntary tack onto port in the midst of the starboard starting boats. Fortunately no serious damage was done. First to the windward mark was Bob Carter, closely followed by George Stephen and George Carter. On the run Stephen & G Carter edged in front of R Carter and a group including Paul Smith, Austin Flather, Steve Sawford, Steve Petts and Philip Howden closed in from the rear. The fleet split at the leeward mark and it was the boats of R Carter, Smith and Flather who tacked onto starboard to sail up the lee shore who made big gains. By the time of the third and final beat the two Carters were in the lead from Stephen and Smith. R Carter edge over the line in front and G Carter had to take a turn before finishing due to contact with the leader on the line. Smith was third from Sprinter Stephen, Flather and S Hanby.

The wind had died somewhat by the time of the second race. First to the windward mark was the two-up boat of Henry and Oliver Clark followed, remarkably, by Steve Sawford who was over at the start but had restarted and got back to second place. The unfortunate Gordon Goldstone hit the mark while tacking just ahead of Stephen and had to take a turn. Sawford sailed into the lead ahead of the Clarks but then on the second beat opted for the wrong side and lost out seriously. Happily, the race officer shortened the race to a lap and a beat as the wind was dying and first across the line was Stewartby sprinter, Robin Hall, who sailed a perfect upwind leg. R Carter won the race from Steve Hanby & G Carter who were just 1 second apart. A short distance behind was Stephen, the Clark two-up boat and Elliot Gill.

Sunday was completely different! It rained constantly all day creating chaos and floods on the roads but we had WIND - 15 to 20 knots of it from the west. The third race was a great thrash around the pond. S Hanby was first at the windward mark closely followed by R Carter and G Carter. The race developed into a contest between heavy weather experts, S Hanby & G Carter with Hanby holding off to take the gun from G Carter and in third place was 14 year old Richard Hanby and Sam Jones who sailed a cracking race. Thus at lunch any one of the 3 leading boats could win the regatta and the final race got under way with R Carter port tacking across the fleet, but it was G Carter in the lead at the windward mark and he opened out a sizeable lead which he held to the gun. Sawford worked his way to third place in the middle part of the race chasing S Hanby but the old master, Nick Dewhirst, got back into the groove to claim third place from Sawford and Hanby junior/Jones.

In the final analysis G Carter (2,2,1) won the event from S Hanby (2,1,2) on the last race count back and R Carter (1,1,4) was third. R Hanby/S Jones were the first 2-up boat and R Hall was the first Sprinter. George Stephens boat, won the "go-it-alone" award by dragging George (who was standing ashore holding the rudder) out into the lake, dumped him, gybed and subsequently went on to ram unsuspecting competitors on shore!

Bob Carter.

Overall Results
1st G. Carter Grafham 5pts
2nd S. Hanby Beaver 5pts
3rd R. Carter Grafham 6pts
4th P. Smith Beaver 15pts
5th N. Dewhirst Whitstable 16pts
6th A. Flather Beaver 18pts

Sprint Results
1st R. Hall Stewartby
2nd G. Stephen Catamaran Y.C.
3rd S. Wakelam Stewartby
4th H. Chidwick Queen Mary

Two-up Results
1st R. Hanby & S. Jones Beaver
2nd H. & O. Clark Swanage

Longstaff Cup: G. Carter