Event Report - Allen GP5 at WPNSA
Just two weeks after the previous event, at Hayling Island, it was fantastic to see a strong fleet of 47 boats coming down to Weymouth for the final weekend event before the Typhoon Nationals.
On Saturday, the fleet launched into a calm breeze of about 10 knots from the south. This direction sees the breeze coming directly over Portland, causing large pressure differences across the course and large swings in wind direction as the breeze indecisively alternates between the left of Portland and the right of Portland.
The fleet was a little too keen to get going in the first race, having to be recalled twice as too many boats jumped the gun at the start. A black flag on the third start succeeded in intimidating the fleet into a more reserved position, behind the line at go.
After demonstrating impressive pace and level-headed decision making, Sian Talbot and Maddy Bristow 2753 took the first race with an untouchable lead. Second was Karrie Clarke and Lia Fletcher 2924 then Finian Morris and Oscar Morgan-Harris 2213 who were making a strong start to the event as one of the junior teams. Next across the finish line was Raulf Berry and Ben Millard 3079 then Freddie Westwell and Jesse Kibble 2903.
On the start of the second race, everyone was dazzled by the confident timing of Ross Banham and Felicity Brellisford 2493, who made the most of the pin-biased start line. Despite multiple boats sailing at them on starboard, they crossed cleanly in front on port, making the perfect pin flyer. They found themselves pointing directly at the windward mark from the start of the race, a full boat length clear of any other boat. Surely they could only do well from here. However, after ending up on the wrong side of a monstrous wind shift to the right, their lead quickly vanished, eventually finishing the race in 17th.
The race was won by Ben Mueller and Freddie Lonsdale 2900 who, despite their mass, made the most of the dying breeze and colossal wind shifts. Second and third were two impressive performances by junior teams: Issy Leetch and Solomon Wilby 2292 followed by Nick Evans and Sam Webb 2788. Finishing 4th was Aled LLewellyn-Jones and Ben Bradley 3066 closely followed by Sam Cox and Will de Jaeger 3080.
A third race was attempted but this was abandoned after the first beat due to unreasonably large swings in wind direction and very little wind on the right half of the race course. With a dying forecast, the wind was unlikely to improve so the fleet was sent ashore.
Day one proved to be difficult for everyone as the boat in first place, Sian and Maddy, was counting 7 points after just 2 races. Second overall was Ben and Freddie on 8 points. Third and fourth were Ben and Aled then Leo and Sam, who were both counting 14 points. 5th was Nick and Sam, who were first juniors overnight on 16 points. Also on 16 points was Raulf and Ben in 6th place, who proved themselves to be a strong team on the Saturday but were unable to race on the Sunday.
Day two started with slightly more wind from the south east. There was generally a bit more wind on the left of the course due to the wind shadow from Portland but a forecast right shift combined with the occasional rain cloud above Portland meant that sailing up the right was sometimes a winning strategy. As well as this, the wind oscillations were still a very significant factor, which couldn't be ignored, making it another difficult day for tactics.
The first race of the day started under the black flag, which was not enough to knock the confidence of some of the sailors. Three boats were spotted over the line by the race committee and the race continued. First and second were Leo and Sam followed by Emily Mueller and Seb Gotto 2743, both making their first appearance in the top 3. Third was Karrie and Lia, fourth was Aled and Ben and fifth was Finian and Oscar, with another strong performance in the battle for the junior prizes.
Before the second race of the day, the wind swung from south east to south, causing a short postponement while the wind stabilised.
The race winners were Ollie Evans and Ben Hutton-Penman 2811, who had been steadily improving throughout the event. Second was Freddie and Jesse and third was Leo and Sam, displaying their remarkable consistency. Fourth to cross the finish line was Charlie Gran and Toby Bloomfield 2736, with their first top 5 of the event. In fifth place was Emily and Seb.
Race 3 of the day got under way after a general recall. The race winners were Emily and Seb, who were already having a fantastic day. Monique Vennis-Ozanne and Jess Jobson 2661 came second, with their first top 5 of the event. Ollie and Ben put in a consistent third, followed by junior boat Nick and Sam, then Aled and Ben.
Some dramatic changes in wind direction made the fourth race of the day a difficult one. Sophie Dennis and Emma Wells successfully negotiated the wind shifts and came away with a race win, their first top 5 of the event. In second was Emma James and Ben Ibbotson 2796, with their first top 10 of the event. Third place was taken by Freddie and Jesse, followed by junior team Jamie Wilkinson and Jamie Gatehouse 2433 with their first top 15 of the event. Leo and Sam maintained their consistent scoreline by finishing 5th.
A variety of wind directions across the racecourse called for another postponement, after which it was decided that the wind was unlikely to stabilise and the final race of the day was abandoned.
At the end of the weekend, the event winners were Leo and Sam. Second place went to Emily Mueller and Seb Gotto and third place went to Aled Llewellyn-Jones and Ben Bradley. Fourth was Ollie Evans and Ben Hutton-Penman, fifth was Freddie Westwell and Jesse Kibble and in sixth place was Sophie Dennis and Emma Wells 3081.
Top three girls were Sophie and Emma followed by Sian and Maddy then Monique and Jess. The first mixed boats were Emily and Seb then Ross and Felicity then Issy Leetch and Solomon Wilby. The junior prizes went to Nick and Evans then James Crossley and Noah Fitzgerald 2206 followed by Finian and Oscar.
Congratulations to Leo and Sam for winning the event and a huge thank you to WPNSA, the race committee and all the volunteers for making the event happen. And finally, good luck to everyone going to Largs for the Typhoon Nationals 2021.