Robline GP14 Nationals 2022 Report

Llandudno Sailing Club July 21st – 24th 2022

Report by Vanessa Devereux with contributions from Sam McKay, Sharon Freeland, Darrell Sleep, Sarah McGovern.

Training and day 1.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic the GP14 Nationals opened with a fleet of 40 boats. 

The event commenced with an opportunity for Sea Training! Fourteen sailors joined Adam McGovern on the water to be inducted to/polish their skills on tide and waves; a great opportunity for sailors to discuss boat set up and hone their skills for the event. It also provided some light entertainment for those who arrived during the day.

Darrell Sleep from Staunton Harold SC commented on the training “Although I have been sailing a GP14 for over 20 years at club and later at area level in the Midlands I have never sailed on the sea or attended a GP14 National Championship before. This being so Charles and I signed up for the sea training run by Adam.  My first introduction to tides and how to use or avoid them was very helpful as was the advice on how to keep the kite flying while running downwind and executing the perfect gybe. Two bigger learnings were that as helm I was using too much rudder and our boat set up wasn’t correct despite a 21’ 10” mast rake. Adam advised us the go down 1/2 a pin on the shrouds to allow us to point higher.”

The sponsors for the event were Robline UK, Impact Sails, Harken, Gibson Sails, Goacher Sails, Optimum Time, West Systems ….Justin Jones of Robline was very generous and the registration packs were full to over-flowing with goodies. Many thanks to all of them for their support of this class and especially this event.

See event video by Sailpics

So, to the first day of racing, sponsored by Impact Sails. For some it was their first-time racing on the sea as well as their first Nationals so what followed was a steep learning curve of flags and hooters. As Sharon Freeland (Experiences from the Bronze end of the fleet) – comments: “Practice race-we now know that lots of hooting and flags in a rescue boat does NOT mean shortened course and the finish, it’s to signal a mark change! But we were in good company!”

The wind was double that which had been forecast and led to good sailing.

Race one was won by Nick Craig and Tobytastic Lewis, followed by Fergus and Jasper Barnham and Ian Dobson with Andy Tunnicliffe, from Impact Sails in third. First in the silver fleet was Ollie Goodhead . crewed by Ellie Wheeldon (Davies) and leading Bronze fleet across the line was Connie Booth and Nick White.  Some boats were caught OCS.

Race 2 also had some boats OCS; first across the line was John Hayes and Joel James, with Fergus and Jasper in second and Dave Young and Laura Burch, in their brand new Winder, in third. Silver fleet winners were Ollie and Elli and Bronze, Connie and Nick.

The fleet returned to shore to soft drinks as due to local laws no alcohol could be on the promenade. The evening was spent catching up and making new friends over a curry in the club house.

Darrell commented “On Friday the first race day Charles and I were setting up in bay 35 with John Hayes and Joel James (14188) from Southport SC in bay 36. After chatting to them about our inability to point, after setting up our new shroud and mast rake setting John was kind enough to look at our jib tension and advise us that our jib cars were too far back. He described them as “storm conditions” and helped us find a better set up for the expected conditions for Friday so a big thank you to John and Joel for their help and advice although we did return to the “storm set up” for race days 2 and 3. More on that later.

The two races on Friday were “interesting” as we had to do 720’s in both races for impeding other competitors. Stay out of trouble was the lesson learned. As helm my first transgressions was to gybe too early in a crowed zone after the first windward mark of race 1 and as Connie Booth and Nicola White shouted protest and asked me to take my penalty after my boom crashed into theirs, I friendly put my thumb up to indicate I would do my turns. Unfortunately, at first they thought I was putting my middle finger up to them! All was amicably resolved once they saw us drop our spinnaker and make amends for my transgression.

Race 2 was noticeable for a massive capsize while going downwind with the kite up in a massive gust and Charles missing the centreboard which inevitably meant it was going to be a while before we could be up and racing again. John Close and his Rib driver came to our rescue and dragged us head to wind to allow us to recover. Day 1 over and what a day of lessons learnt. As our results from the next two days would show these two results 29 and 32 were our discards.” – Darrell Sleep

Day 2 

The wind again was more than forecast.

Race 3 sponsored by Optimum Tim

The winners of race 3 were Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe, second were father and son Irish sailors Hugh and Dan Gill, followed by Fergus and Jasper Barnham. First in the silver fleet was Ollie Goodhead. crewed by Ellie Wheeldon (Davies) and Bronze fleet was Connie Booth and Nick White.  

Race 4 sponsored by Harken

The wind gusts caught out many sailors with 5 boats capsizing rounding the wing mark. Fortunately, Richard of Sailpics was on hand to capture this. There are plenty of good shots for future caption competitions and five retirements. Ian and Andy had their second win with returners to the fleet Matt mee and Chris Robinson in second place and Hugh and Dan in third. First in the silver fleet was Ollie and Ellie and Bronze fleet was Connie and Nick.   

Race 5 Sponsored by Goacher Sails

The final race of day 2 was sailed by most of the fleet although a few had an early shower. Winners of the race were Matt mee and race sponsor Chris Robinson of Goacher Sails, in second were Ian and Andy followed by Fergus and Jasper in third. Chris from Goacher, awarded Matt and himself  the prizes for winning this race. First in the silver fleet was Sam McKay and Lewis Coppinger and Bronze fleet was Connie and Nick.  

Experiences from the Bronze end of the fleet- “Day 2 slightly dishevelled and questioning my sanity. It turned out to be epic! A bit breezier than the forecast! We observed and experienced(!) some impressive downwind capsizes and navigated our way through carnage at the leeward mark, joining them on one occasion! 3 capsizes in all.

Downwind was hairy, especially having a significantly heavier crew weight in the front. Helm on the transom and still plenty of rock and roll and some nosediving. Getting the kite up and down was extra exciting.”

A good evening followed in the club house with a BBQ and with music from a DJ .

“Races 3-5 on day 2 were all heavy going with big winds and even bigger gusts. Charles and I had great close racing with Neil Goodhead and Brain Bates (14168) from South Staffs SC and Ross Baird and Sian Baird (13721) from Budworh SC. At one point while all careering down to the wing mark, all three of us performed identical manoeuvres to get round in a massive gust before bearing away down to the leeward mark in a sea of spray and much relief that none is us had capsized or crashed into each other.” -Darrell Sleep.

Day 3

Race 6 Sponsored by West system

The winners of race 6 were Ian and Andy with Nick Craig and Tobytastic Lewis in second and Matt and Chris in third. First in Silver fleet was Ollie and Ellie and leading Bronze fleet across the line were Connie and Nick

Race 7 Sponsored by Gibson Sails

The first across the line were Ian and Andy, followed Matt and Chris with Fergus and Jasper in third.  Sam McKay and Lewis Coppenger beat Connie and Nick to win the first in Silver fleet ollie and Ellie. Connie and Nick continued their wins for Bronze fleet. 

Experiences from the Bronze end of the fleet – Day 3-still windier than expected. The waves seemed bigger, we were farther offshore- or was it an illusion?!

We saw some impressive cartwheeling windward capsizes down the run.

Race 7 we managed to keelhaul the spinnaker-we now know flag W and thanks to the rescue boat for telling us and the boat in front of us what to do. That potentially would have been our best race! then they saw the dolphin and it brought a smile to their faces for the last race.

Race 8 No kite (phew). The memory I will take away was racing two other boats as flat out as we could, after four days of sailing, neck and neck to the finish line and ending with a photo.”

Race 8.

The final race of the Nationals was won by Matt and Chris beating Ian and Andy into second and Nick and Tobytastic in third. Silver fleet was taken by Ollie and Ellie and Bronze fleet had a new winner with Sharon and Paul Freeland 

“Races 6-8 on day 3 saw a depleted bronze fleet after their exertions on day 2. While in all three races most of the fleet stayed pinned to their starboard tack after each start, Charles and I along with Sharon and Paul Freeland (13611) from Llandegfedd Lake SC tacked off early towards the Great Orme firstly to get clean air and also because we thought we detected a wind bend coming around the limestone mound and giving us a big lift the closer we got to it. We both seemed to do well out of the move coming to the first windward mark mid fleet. We like to think the rest of the fleet caught on as more boats came over to the right side of the track on subsequent beats.”- Darrell Sleep

Experiences from the Bronze end of the fleet- “It was a really great championship, our first in over 40 years! A huge thank you to everybody for all the hard work running the event, to the sponsors for the amazing prizes and for the friendship and enthusiasm of everyone we met.” 

Sam McKay commented on the event “I’ve sailed in a few classes over the last 15-ish years, but it had been a while since I’d been to a nationals where the top 10 boats were as close as they were. The whole fleet was incredibly competitive with battles for places running up until the last race.

As for the boat, it was hard work given the conditions on Saturday & Sunday, but despite being knackered all weekend we had great time. I felt throughout the event that most boats were going roughly the same speed with tactical decisions and boat handling being the key separator in the fleet, it made for some great tactical racing, regardless of your position.

With all that said, I’d recommend everyone gives a GP a go, probably in a bit less wind though!” 

Glad that you enjoyed sailing in our fleet Sam, we look forwards to seeing you competing in the future.

Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe were the Robline GP14 National Champions for 2022. Obviously the coaching advice of “Daddy are you winning?…. Then you need to pull the ropes harder; to go faster” from Ian’s young son was impressively correct.

Sarah McGovern posted this on face book –“ totally out of my comfort zone this weekend at the GP14 Nationals in Llandudno. After 3 years of not racing in a big fleet, a pole, tacking backwards and a baby , this was mentally and physically an exhausting one and I normally love racing in the big waves.”   We hope that you have enjoyed the event Sarah.

The class was proud to be the first major event to be held at Llandudno Sailing Club especially since the clubhouse and resources were used throughout the pandemic by the health boards as part of the Ysbyty Enfys (Rainbow Hospital). In this time the venue was transformed: the car park held the ambulance bay as well as showers and rest rooms for medical staff, the boat park had a large oxygen tank built in which was plugged into the club’s electrical power via a hole in the female changing rooms wall. The club itself was taken over as the medical rest rooms. The building was restored to its original state and handed back to the club last year.

2022 Nationals Overall Results