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21/02/2004
Gul RS800 Winter Championships Grafham Water SC

Having scraped the ice off the car first thing, to get to Grafham, every one of the 16 hardy teams knew this was the Gul winter championships……. It was looking like a nice day as the sun came out and a gentle breeze filled across the lake. Once everyone was changed and ready to go however, all hell had been let loose and someone had really turned the wind on. Most of the boats made it to the start line, and Steve Irish and Martin Gotrel showed the fleet a clean pair of heels and led round the windward mark chased by Alex Davies and Sarah Hughes in second and Ian Aldridge and Neil Coxon in third. Down the run Steve and Martin extended their lead, and were never to be caught. Ian and Neil and Alex and Sarah swapped places several times round the next six laps, with Alex and Sarah just taking the win from Ian and Neil. 9 finishers in total, with many succumbing to gear failure in the building breeze Race two and the breeze was now a steady 25 knots with some big gusts, and the start line was fairly empty. Spod Olive and Jane Norris led the leading bunch of five boats around the windward mark, only to ditch it in trying to bear away. Steve and Martin came in from fifth to sail round the outside of the chaos. Get in a good hoist and be in the lead by the first gybe hotly pursued by Ian and Neil and Nick Wapshott and Richard Byne. Nick and Richard had done well to make it to the start line having had to go in for a new mainsail after leaping through their best one halfway through the first race. The positions held for the rest of the race, Steve and Martin taking the win from Ian and Neil with Nick and Richard notching up an impressive third in their first 800 event. Race Three. More breeze, more cold, less competitors. I couldn’t tell how many, as it was taking all my concentration to stay upright. Suffice to say Steve and Martin cruised round to win from Ian and Neil. Spod and Jane returned to the fray after missing half of race two to do some repairs, only to see their mast fall down when in third. Nick and Richard were busy injuring each other in a very big wipeout from their inherited third place from Spod, also leading to retirement. Alex and Sarah continued to play it safe leaving the kite in the boat for three of the 6 laps (and even tacking round for one of the gybes!!!) and took third place while Sam Sutton and Jessie Gebhard battled round to complete the full six laps having been lapped at least twice, and took fourth place, and fourth overall. Sunday dawned even windier and there were a lot of apprehensive people on the beach. Races four and five were started by the race officer, but the fleet voted with it’s feet and stayed ashore helping to launch the seemingly suicidal 600 fleet, and the odd nutcase in an 800 that wanted to see what it was like. Overall Steve and Martin won with three firsts from Ian and Neil with 3,2,2. Alex and Sarah took third with 2,4,3 and Sam and Jessie in fourth with RTD,6,4. The Gul merit award was presented to Nick and Richard, for Richards heroics in allowing Nick to land on him, instead of their second mainsail of the weekend, giving Richards face a lovely series of cuts bruises and a black eye, during their monster wipeout; and their blistering pace in race two.
1 1058 Steve Irish Martin Gutrel Draycote 3 1 1 1 2 1073 Ian Aldridge Neil Coxon Stokes bay 7 3 2 2 3 839 Alex Davies Sarah Hughes Draycote 9 2 4 3 4 854 sam Sutton Jessie Gebhard Derwent 28 18 6 4 5 956 Ian Martin Claire Booth Draycote 31 8 5 18 6 944 Nick Wapshott Rchard Byne 39 18 3 18 7 1057 Spod Olive Jane Norris Stokes Bay 40 4 18 18 8 916 Babs Emmons RolonaEmmons Weston 41 5 18 18 9 878 Sam Neal Alex Cramp GWSC 42 6 18 18 10 847 Justin Deal Sarah Marriott Datchet 43 7 18 18 11 864 Adrian Coatsworth Julia Jenkins Alton Water 45 9 18 18 12 1013 Joe Turnbull Rob Brittian Stokes bay 54 18 18 18 12 804 Neil Baker Simon Grundy HISE 54 18 18 18 12 836 Derek Buchanan Elaine buchanan Oxford 54 18 18 18 12 883 Kate Gillow Simon Gillow Draycote 54 18 18 18 12 922 N Wapshott R Byne Draycote 54 18 18 18 12 962 Philip King Rachel Cooper Farmoor 54 18 18 18
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