Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Greg's account of the 2014 29er Harken Grand Prix at Hayling Island Sailing Club                                                 
Event photos by Harry Bowerman

The Harken 29er grand prix was held on the 27th to the 28th of September 

Registration opened at 9:00 and everyone was down nice and early the, competitors took there boats of the trailers and started to undo straps  and winches. All the boats were wheeled into the compound and people started to rig up. As it got closer to10:00 everyone went into the changing rooms to get changed when everyone had come back out he wind had died and no one could go out as there were more knots of tide than there was wind, everyone was forced to wait sweltering in There sailing gear for 3 hours before the tide changed.

Once the tide changed everyone hoisted there sails and got out onto the race course ( just inland of the bay.)It was quite light winds so no one was trapezeing as everyone got to the course the wind picked up and we could Sail nicely along but as the wind was low lots of people fell prone to capsizing. As all the boats neared the committee boat the orange I com flag went up and the first fleet flags were put up, blue and yellow the two fleets lined up on the start line to let the race begin. 

Beeeeep went the horn, five minutes all boats racing were lined up on the start line, hovering Beeeeeeeep, three minutes some boats bailed and bore off, one minute to go,beeeeeeeeeep. And of they go the boats leapt over the start line powering up to the mark the fleets split into to two groups each taking a different tack , the boats that took the port tack managed to overcome the waves and gained a slight advantage getting round the top mark before the other boats, they hoisted there spinnakers and most  boats went on the port tack whereas a few went on starboard tack. The low wind meant that the boats weren't moving that fast but when they had to gybe it was apparent who was the better sailers. The best people roll gybed and got ahead by quite a lot the pump out of the gybe giving them more speed. The fight for the bottom mark was ferocious and some very close calls. The wind dropped even more as the second lap started and the best sailers were found out they pulled ahead and the fleets were separated. Some boats straggled behind whereas there was a small group of very experienced people at the front. The  finish line was very close and some boats nearly capsized on top of each other.

On the second day the wind was being predicted as 6~7 knots and the flags were dropped as soon as possible and they managed to get out on the course by 9:30 everyone was  whizzing around. The first start was blue and green and the second red and yellow fleets the first start raced of fast along the upwind but the waves were slowing them down quite allot, as the second start went of the waves had died down and they cut through the water allot quicker as the first start got round the top mark the second start had caught up a considerable amount. The first spinnaker leg widened the gap between the two fleets the wind was picking up lots over the half an hour race, and by the end the boats were flying along.

For the second race the starts were yellow and green, and red and blue.the flag went up for the race and the boats powered away, the boats were keeping in the same groups as they had in the first race  and most boats made it to the mark in groups and there were a few regulars at the front. This race was a lot windier and more boats were capsizing than normal the capsizes slowed down the boats lots, and some groups of boats  were forming at the back as they capsized.

On the second lap boats were getting caught up by the second start the finish line was ferocious and the boats ripped up the water.

As the third race started the wind died down and trapezing wasn't possible the top mark was dangerous as the tide was very strong the mark was hit many times and lots of people had to do penalty turns.the Finnish was pretty relaxed as people came in in drips and drabs.
The fourth race was exactly the same with not much wind but people were getting tiered and there race times were slowing the tide was starting to reach its strongest point and people were drifting crazy amounts and there weren't many tacks needed.
As the evening drew in the final race was held and the wind had dropped to very low conditions and the boats were going very slow as the boats got to the top mark the second time they were wearing down getting slower and slower as the boats finished the wind picked up and the second start got a faster time.

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