29er Harken GP4 - Weymouth
By Daniel Budden & James Grummett
On the 24th of July 55 boats took to the water for the 4th Harken Grand Prix at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. The breeze was up at 12knts for the first few races and with a keen race officer the fleet launched on time out into the Weymouth Bay.
Dan and James took the first race of the day followed by Elliot and Josh, whilst Crispin and Tom looking to get their 4th win of the 2015 GP season took 3rd place. The racing started getting more competitive as the wind dropped for the second race where Crispin and Tom bounced back to win closely followed by Dan and James, with Hannah Bristow and Emily Covell not far behind taking a 3rd in the second race of the day. The race was now on for who would be going into day 2 leading with only two more races to go. The third race of the day took an unexpected turn for the worse for the top few boats with a huge right hand shift and band of pressure hitting the right hand side of the course. Nick Robins and Jake Todd took full advantage of this situation and came cruising in from the right hand side whilst the top few boats were left to battle through the fleet to avoid posting a discard. Arran Holman and Billy Vennis-Ozanne took 2nd with Hamish Taylor and Rory Rose coming 3rd. The wind then picked up and settled at a steady 20+ knts from a northerly direction the final race was under way. James Grummett and Daniel Budden who had already established a 30 second lead by the top mark dominated this race, whilst the rest were left to battle out for 2nd. In the end it was a close finish, which saw Oli Aldridge and Jamie Jobson nipping in front of Crispin Beaumont and Tom Darling at the final mark to take 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Day 1 was now complete and saw Dan and James leading with Crispin and Tom in 2nd and Jake and Nick in 3rd. The pressure was now on for Crispin and Tom who haven’t lost a grand prix so far these season, to take back the lead and get their 4th win of the season.
After waiting for the wind to fill in, the fleet launched and were welcomed by 7knts on the racecourse within Portland harbour on day 2. Race 5 saw the wind up and down and shifting so this race was all about finding the pressure and staying on the correct shift. This is exactly what Rebecca Lewis and Will Ward did which saw them take the win with Crispin and Tom not too far behind, Dan Venables and Nathaniel Gordon safely took 3rd place. Crispin and Tom had now closed the gap between them and 1st overall with just 1 point in it. Race 2 saw yet another large shift to the right off the start, leading to a win for Matt Currell and Eve Townsend, a 2nd for Phoebe Connellan and Sophie Otter and a 3rd for Patrick Croghan and Dominic Lewis. With time for one more race, the top spot was now all to play for, the top two boats both posted huge discards in race 2 and now could not afford any more slip ups. The wind had now settled to a steady 10knts with still the odd shift here and there. The race was won by Phoebe and Sophie who were able to therefore become overall 1st girl. In 2nd place was Bobby Hewitt and Harvey Martin followed by Crispin and Tom in 3rd. With James and Dan no where to be seen, Crispin and Tom grasped there 4th win of the season and took first overall. Dan and Nat after posting a consistent set of results over the second day climbed to 2nd overall, whilst in 3rd were overnight leaders Dan and James. The 1st Junior prize was won by Dan Armstrong and Fin Armstrong in 18th place. 1st mixed team was James Leech and Jemima Leedham in 13th place.
Great to see so many new boats entering the UK class it is a great fleet to be part of. Thank you to Harken for sponsorship of the series. GP5 continues the series in the New Year at Marconi Sailing Club.