#gp14 – Greystones Sailing Club GP14 sailors Shane MacCarthy & Andy Thompson won the GP14 British Inland Championship at Carsington Water Sailing Club 9-10 May. This makes Thompson a double British Inland Champion after his successful win with Tom Gillard in the Fireball at Grafham Water a month earlier writes Mark Fleming.
Windy conditions on day one of the event greeted the 24 competitors and they all took to the water for a 13:00 start. The race officer David Rowlands and his team, who I must say did a fantastic job on the water throughout the whole weekend, were ready and ensured that the racing got under way promptly.
The first race saw the fleet get away first time with only the one individual recall (yes, me!) and saw Shane McCarthy / Andy Thompson round first ahead of a chasing pack including Richard Instone / Jim Toothill and Justin Jones / Chris Anderson. Capsizes changed the order and put some sailors who may well have been contenders for top-five finishes further down the fleet. Another unfortunate incident was the mainsail of Sam Watson / Andy Hunter falling down mid-race due to a halyard failure. They managed to get this fixed on the water after retiring from the race, and started race two. Shane & Andy ended up winning the first race by a comfortable margin, with Justin & Chris finishing in a comfortable second and Richard / Jim in third.
The second race was very similar to the first, the only difference being that the fleet got away cleanly this time! Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson rounded the windward mark first, closely followed by Graham Flynn & Adam Froggatt and Richard Instone & Jim Toothill. The race had many little battles within it as Sam & Andy were trying to fight back through the fleet after being bogged down at the start. Graham & Adam chased Shane & Andy and managed to overtake them and take the win for race two. Richard & Jim were showing their consistency with another 3rd-place finish.
The third race provided some excitement for those both spectating and involved! The fleet got away cleanly again but at least five boats were involved in a pile-up at the windward mark. This gave an early advantage to the likes of Sam Watson & Dave Young as they took advantage of the raft that had occurred. Once the boats had un-rafted themselves, some impressive sailing from Richard Instone & Jim Toothill (who were in the middle of the raft) got them back to the front and they ended up taking the race win, with Sam Watson & Andy Hunter in 2nd and Dave Young & Nic Booth in 3rd.
The raft in race three had displaced some of the championship contenders, meaning that it was an open event overnight with Richard & Jim topping the leader board with two thirds and a first – showing consistency was important. What would the next day bring?
Lighter winds on day two greeted the sailors for a 10:30 start. However, the forecast was for it to build – and it did...
Race 4 got under way after a postponement to allow the wind to settle down and a general recall. Everyone behaved under black flag and Shane McCarthy was first to round the windward mark followed by a motivated Graham Flynn & Adam Froggatt and Gary Deighan & Dale Knowles. After some hard-fought battles, Shane & Andy got off to the perfect start with a first-place finish with Graham & Adam in 2nd and Gary & Dale 3rd. Ian Willis / Keith Dutton, who were first grandmasters, finished a creditable 4th after an impressive burst from mid-fleet.
Race 5 was swiftly under way after the end of Race 4 with the usual suspects of Shane & Andy and Graham & Adam rounding second and first respectively. They were closely followed by Justin Jones & Chris Anderson and Dave Young & Nic Booth. The fleet remained fairly compact for this race with nobody taking the race by the scruff of the neck. There were a lot of places changing in the mid-fleet, which made for some great spectating and also the odd capsize here and there! The race finished with Graham & Adam in first and Shane & Andy in second place, which put Shane & Andy in the driving seat to win the event because Graham & Adam were having to count a sixth place from the previous day. Justin & Chris were able to fend off the chasing pack for 3rd place.
The sixth race started, and after an event where Sam & Andy weren't getting off the line as well as normal, they nailed the start and ended up rounding the windward mark first with Neil Gibson & Geoff Phillips in a close second. Justin & Chris and Richard & Jim were in hot pursuit of the two boats and the tight racing meant that, again, the leaders did not pull away from the pack. Having witnessed a lot of the event from mid-fleet, it was quite weird having both the back of the fleet and the front of the fleet so close to us after a couple of laps! Neil & Geoff slipped away from the top five to finish 7th as Graham & Adam and Shane & Andy came through after some rare poor starts. Sam & Andy managed to fend off the challenge of the chasing pack to take first place, a great way to end their weekend, followed by Justin & Chris in 2nd who had a very strong end to the competition and Richard & Jim in 3rd.
After six hard-fought races, Shane McCarthy & Andy Thompson were worthy winners of the Inland Championships, and Shane thanked Carsington Sailing Club for hosting a great event, the competitors for some great racing and everyone who helped organise it and ensure it ran so smoothly. I would certainly echo this.
Other prizes were awarded to first youth boat, which went to the brother & sister team of Nick & Ellie Devereux from Budworth Sailing Club, and also to the first female helm, Megan Hicklin of South Staffs Sailing Club.