The weekend of 25th and 26th March saw 82 young sailors make the journey to Draycote Water for the first RS Feva Grand Prix of 2023, and the 4th in a 6 race year long Grand Prix series. The weekend dawned with warm sunshine, but 38knt gusts howling straight along the rather exposed Draycote shoreline. At the time the boats were arriving for registration there were more white horses visible than actual water, which lead to some rather nervous younger sailors, and some very excited older ones!
Given the forecast was due to drop later in the day, the race committee wisely postponed launching whilst the worst of the wind abated. However, after about 2 hours, and significant quantities of sweets, the D flag was raised and the fleet launched.
Watching from the committee boat was an impressive sight, as the entire fleet launched together and then set off on a lightening quick broad reach out to the race area. The wind was still a sustained 20knts, and gusts into the low 30’s, so the sailors all arrived on the start line either exhilarated or intimidated depending on how gung ho they were feeling!
Race 1 got off to a fairly frantic start with a number of boats being a bit too keen to get racing
underway, and a number of boats being upside down in the start area! However, once racing was underway it was quickly apparent that the conditions were going to lead to massive splits in the fleet. This was definitely a day for the more experienced Feva sailors, with Jac Bailey and Ben Sinfield taking the win from Ffion Bailey and Megan Gowers, then in 3rd Imogen Green and Bob Byne. The leading group of sailors all clearly revelling in screaming downwind, mostly looking in control, but a few significant wipe outs were seen from the shore.
Races 2 and 3 were run in slightly less wind, but with a pattern emerging, with Ben Greenhalgh and Tim Sinfield taking the win in both, and a group of 6 boats behind them that were having a pretty tight battle. This group were starting to move clear of another very large group of about 20 boats who were having tight race long battles, which lead to some really exciting leeward gate roundings where at times boats were 4 abreast at both sides of the gate.
Day 2 dawned colder, greyer, damper and with not a lot less wind, although impressively the energy levels in the fleet didn’t seem to have been affected. The wind had swung around nearly 180 degrees, meaning the full force of a cold north easterly was blowing straight onto the club house, which lead to most parents sheltering inside and leaving their kids to do the hard work outside!
When it came to the racing, largely the same pattern continued, with no one having an answer to the sheer speed of Ben and Tom, who finished in the top 3 in all of Sunday’s races, which included a further 2 race wins, this gave them a comfortable overall win. Jac and Ben also had another great day, and finished a clear 2nd overall.
Spring Champions Ben Greenhalgh (left) Tom Sinfield (right) from Port Dinorwic Sailing Club Pictures by Andrew Green
Behind these 2 it got very close with 4 boats separated by a single point, but Rebecca Knock and Tom Webb put in an impressive run of results on day 2 including a win in race 6, which eventually pulled them into 3rd spot.
The rest of the prize winners were Ffion and Megan in 4th , Ed Stubbs and Bruno Greenfield in 5th, and Imogen and Bob in 6th .
The Feva fleet also make a point of recognising other boats that are developing through the class, and so Oscar Radford and Max Evans-Alder won the Endeavour award, Flora Evans and Darcy Morgan-Harris won the Feva Fun award, and Ollie Hateley and Mona Nygard won the Fevaship award. The first school boat was George Curtis and Benjamin Bryden from Tonbridge.
Once again we would like to thank the sailors for participating, with the help from parents, guardians, coaches, family and friends bringing you along. To all the volunteers for their support to bring this event together, volunteers help before, during and after the event, we really do appreciate your time, thank you. Thanks also goes to Draycote Water Sailing Club for hosting this event and being accommodating as always. Lastly our Grand Prix sponsor Rooster and to RS Sailing for your continued support.
Written by Andrew Green