Ovington Inlands 2018

A smaller than expected fleet of dedicated 49er sailors
arrived bright and early on Saturday 3rd of November at Grafham
Water for the Ovington Boats Inlands. Many teams noted the forecast and found
other things to do, or had injurys to crews and boats from the windy Nationals
a few weeks previously.
With a gusty 20 to 30 knots of breeze the fleet launched in
anticipation of some fast downwind blast, and 4 scheduled races on a course
shared with the Musto Skiffs and 505s.
Race one got off to a respectful start, with the 3 upright
boats enjoying the space of the long startline, set for the 35 Musto Skiffs. An
upwind split saw Matty & James Lyons and Tom Walker & Max Todd heading
off on starboard, whilst Simon & Roger Coles took to Port in search of some
clear air. When the fleet reconvened at the top mark, Tom & Max just
squeezed round in front of Simon & Roger, with Matty & James slotting
in just behind. A tidy gybe set by both Tom & Max and Matty & James led
to another split, with Simon & Roger heading off on starboard, deciding
keeping it simple was the answer. The advantage of starting 4 minutes after the
Mustos was 3 fold, firstly being able to observe the upwind strategy of some of
the best skiff sailors around (and ignored in this humble reporters case), the
laylines and leeward gate were easily identified by the shiny white bottoms of
several capsized Mustos, with the 49er fleet occasionally providing the same
information to the 505s!
The next 2 laps were a blur of tacks, bear aways, swims and
gybes, with Matty & James coming out on top with Tom & Max in hot
pursuit, Simon & Roger followed a little behind. Unfortunately Joe &
Clare Bird spend the pre start and much of the first race dredging the mud at
the bottom of Grafham Water, and decided in hindsight that the breeze was a bit
too full on, so recovered to the warmth of the bar to watch the action.
Race 2 followed the format of race 1, with the 3 boats very
close at the windward mark, before spreading out a little downwind. At the
leeward gate, disaster stuck for Simon & Roger as their soft attached
Harken kite block became un attached from the boat, leaving Simon to sail the
whole beat with the mainsheet (complaining as only a 49er helm knows about
having the sheet) whilst Roger valiantly tried to reattach the block to the
deck. At the finish the order was as race 1, with Matty & James leading Tom
& Max, with Simon & Roger following behind.
Race 3 started in even more breeze, so after putting on even
more rig tension between races, the fleet set off. The usual pattern was
followed, with the fleet fairly close at the bottom gate until a late call to
gybe drop by Simon surprised Roger and led to a length swim, partially waiting
for the 505s to get around the gate the 49er was helpfully capsized in the
middle of! At the top mark the close battle between Matty & James and Tom
& Max came to a premature end as the rudder stock on Tom & Maxs boat
broke, leaving them to expertly navigate back to the shore in 25 knots with no
rudder, great skills boys! This left Matty & James to collect their 3rd
bullet of the day, and Simon & Roger to collect something other than a 3rd.
Race 4 started with Simon and Roger deciding their day was
done and sailing home in the now increasing wind, Matty & James had a
similar idea, leaving Tom & Max in their hastily fixed boat with a clear
run at first until the wind increased and shifted leading to the race officer
abandoning the race.
Sunday saw a more reasonable 8 – 12 knots, with big gust and
holes, with 4 races again scheduled in the grey overcast conditions.
Joe & Clare joined the fun, leading to 4 boats battling
it out at the start of the rerun race 4, a snakes and ladders beat left the
fleet very close at the top mark with Tom & Max squeezing ahead of Matty
& James with Simon & Roger and Joe & Clare close behind. The
following 3 laps were a game of snakes and ladders with many parking lots found
whilst a few boat lengths away others had decent breeze. Tom & Max came out
with Matty & James in close company, with Simon & Roger 3rd
(again) and Joe and Clare 4th.
Race 5 was delayed whilst we played follow the committee
boat around Grafham water as the wind shift, and the whole course was reset.
Once the race eventually got underway the main breeze had dropped to 8 knots,
with occasionally less. Simon & Roger surprised everyone by getting to the
top mark first, with Tom & Max close behind, followed by Matty & James,
with Joe & Clare 4th. having seen the gybe set pay off in the
last race, Simon & Roger and Matty & James elected to go off on port,
only ot watch Tom & Max sail on into a gust from the gods and plane away,
with Joe & Clare following on. Deciding to cut their losses, Simon &
Roger gybed back to try na dmake up ground on Tom & Max, only to see Matty
& James sail on another few boat lengths into another gust from the gods to
sail past everyone into a lead they would never relinquish. Finishing order for
race 5 was Matty & James, Tom & Max, Simon & Roger and Joe &
Clare.
Race 6 followed the usual pattern, with the breeze dying
away even more, Tom & Max came out on top after sniffing the best breeze
and surviving a late luffing match from Matty & James. Simon & Roger
recorded a 3rd place for the 5th time, after a close
battle with Joe and Clare that saw the latter doing some circles after a
leeward gate incident.
The final race of the regatta got underway in similar breeze
to race 6, with Tom & Max and Simon & Roger both pushing close to the
line to head off on starboard in a boat speed race. The considerably younger
and more agile pair (Tom & Max) just managed to get their tack onto port
away without infringing Simon and Roger. The top mark order had seemed to
follow the type for the day, with Tom & Max leading Matty & James, with
Simon & Roger close behind, with Joe & Clare close behind. A downwind
and upwind leg of snakes and ladders left the final run looking to be a
formality, however a luffing match, between Matty & James and Tom &
Max, combined with a wind shift and massing of Musto Skiffs a the final gate
before the finish line in the only 2 lap race of the weekend, led to Matty
& James having to gybe away and Simon & Roger catching some luck to
carry the breeze past them to a 2nd place behind Tom and Max.
After an enthralling weekend of close racing in a wide range
of conditions, Matty & James Lyons were crowned 49er Ovington Boats inland
champions by a single point from Tom & Max, with Simon & Roger 3rd
and Joe and Clare 4th.
2019 sees the 49er European championships come to Weymouth,
so the weekend warriors will spend the winter preparing physically and mentally
to take on the cream of Olympic pro sailors. With top sepc boats now being
available from as little as £5000, there has never been a better time to join
the 49er fleet and test yourself against the best of the best, whilst sailing
faster than pretty much any other one design class!
 
By Si Coles 
     
     
Posted: 21:09:10 - 21/11/2018

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