Considering the very poor forecast for very light winds all weekend it was a very decent fleet of 36 RS400’s that arrived at Grafham Water on Oct 6/7 for the RS400 Inland Championships. Considering how light and fickle the wind proved to be the race team led by Pete Saxton did a sterling job of fitting 4 races in.
The fleet and the race team were given a master class in light wind sailing by Scaling Dams finest; Wayne and Debbie Fletcher who really put on quite a show. As one wise sage put it “every time I realised where good new wind was coming from that red boat was already there going faster than anyone”.
Race 1 in a patchy 6/7 knots was a comprehensive win for the Fletchers who were a mile clear with the Pete’s Vincent and Cruickshank equally convincing in second with Robert Gullan/Jack Holden third. James George/Izzi Mitchell held a useful lead in race 2 but the Fletchers hunted them down on the second run to win again by a useful distance from David Exley/Richard Brown and Caroline Whithouse/Tony Cliff. After a few attempted starts that were stopped as the wind went walk about race 3 started in very light airs that became even more fickle. This time the Fletchers were in third on the second run but got the approach to the leeward gate spot on as the race team shortened course to win from Gullan/Holden and Martin Cooper/Nick Hunt.
No one really held out much hope for Sunday morning as the forecast was for 2 knots from every compass direction dropping to one from any direction left and the heavy mist at 9.00 gave even less cause for optimism. But when the mist disappeared and the sun came out a steady 7/8 knots appeared and everyone was rushing to put wetsuits on and pull up sails. But the fleet went into starting practice overload and by time they got away on the 4th start the inevitable happened – the wind switched off. The poor RS500 fleet starting after the 400’s had sat and watched the best wind of the weekend!!! (sorry!!)The wind ended up so light no one put their kites on the second run it was that painful! Exley/Brown held their nerve to win from Cooper/Hunt and long-time leader Peter Snowden and Pippa Fetcher. Senior Fletchers were 5th and with no more racing possible were the most convincing winners of the RS400 Inland Championships. Ross Ryan and Kathryn Hinsliff Smith had a storming event in 8th overall to win the silver division.
Many thanks to Grafham; the Inlands showed the 400 fleet in good health and in buoyant mood; it is now on to the sprints at Queen Mary and the Crewsaver end of Season event at Datchet.