Report by Max Robertson
Photos by Saffron Gallagher
With a forecast of 20 gusting 40, it was good to see 13 entrants for the Laser South Coast Grand Prix event at Sutton Bingham Sailing Club.
In race one there was a steady southerly 20 knot breeze. In the Radial fleet Chris Jones took an early lead with Max Robertson and Bob Cudmore close behind. Chris successfully defended his lead cover tacking Bob all the way up the final beat. Ben Flower won the first Standard fleet race pulling out a comfortable lead over Rob Dyer in 2nd and Steve Bailey, 3rd.
Race two saw a large drop in the wind strength, which switched between the south and west making for exciting and unpredictable racing. In the Standards a prestart capsize by Rob gave Ben an early advantage to romp away to another win. In the Radial fleet Chris was pushed over the line and had to restart, working his way through the fleet from the back. This allowed Bob and Keith McQuilin to lead the race for the first lap, until a spectacularly shifty beat with unpredictable gusts resulted in a double capsize for Bob, and a single for Keith. This allowed Max Robertson to break into the lead which he held until a following wind on the final running leg allowed Keith and Chris to close the gap. Keith capitalised on the wind shifts on the approach to the finish line to take the win with Max 2nd and Chris 3rd.
Race three saw a large increase in the wind strength, with gusts in excess of 30 knots from the west. In the Radials, Bob revelled in the conditions and flew off into the distance with Max and Chris in pursuit. A particularly windy beat caused multiple capsizes from both Max and Chris, with Chris recovering quicker to take 2nd place and Maz 3rd. A mass retiring meant that just four out of nine radials to finished the race. Meanwhile, in the Standards Rob got the better of Ben to keep himself in contention for overall honours.
Race four saw the windiest conditions of the day with just five boats braving the conditions. In the Standards Ben pulled ahead again and after a spectacular nose dive capsize, Rob threw in the towel and retired, followed shortly after by Ben. Max Robertson was the early leader in the Radials after a good start and led at the windward mark with with two other boats in hot pursuit. Some vicious 35+ knot gusts hit the race course mid race with multiple capsizes Max allowing Chris and Bob to get past. Chris took the win and overall victory with Bob, nursing a damaged thumb in 2nd.
Race Officer, Andrew Frost, presiding over his first open event did a great job, assisted by James Harcourt and the safety teams were certainly kept busy with plenty of thrills and spills throughout the day.
1st Ben Flower, Hayling Island SC (1, 1, 2, RET)
2nd Rob Dyer, Sutton Bingham SC (2, 2, 1, RET)
3rd Steve Bailey, Sutton Bingham SC (3, 3, RET, DNC)
1st Chris Jones, Sutton Bingham SC (1, 3, 2, 1)
2nd Bob Cudmore, Parkstone YC (2, 4, 1, 2)
3rd Max Robertson, Sutton Bingham SC (3, 2, 3, RET)
1st Ed Crutchley, Sutton Bingham SC (DNC, 1, DNC, DNC)
2nd William Owen, Sutton Bingham SC (1, RET, DNC, DNC)
Full results at: http://www.suttonbinghamsc.net/w/download/race_results/race_results_2019/Laser-Open-2019.htm