GP14 Vintage & Classic Open Meeting, 20 September 2014

Eight boats is not a massive turnout by most standards, but when there are eight GP14s on a start line on the River Ouse just outside York it’s enough to cause quite a jam and plenty of excitement – for the river is only about as wide as five of the boats placed end to end.

York R I Sailing Club held its inaugural GP14 Vintage & Classic Open Meeting on Saturday 20 September. In GP14 terms, ‘Vintage and Classic’ means Series 1 boats, loosely defined as boats with round holes or none in their transoms. All the boats are thus at least twenty years old, and some are considerably older. On this occasion six local boats were joined by two visitors – GP14 number 7, which is well past its sixtieth birthday (helmed by Gareth Morris, who isn’t), and 3226, built in 1959 and helmed by GP14 Association President Duncan Greenhalgh, representing Derwent Reservoir SC and Solway YC. Both Gareth and Duncan teamed up with locally sourced crews, and the host club was also delighted to welcome Ann Penny from Derwent Reservoir SC, who crewed in one of the local boats.

The format was three back-to-back races on a sausage course (triangles are tricky to organise at this venue), and the racing was expertly run by race officers Peter Craggs and Phil Nelson. The wind behaved itself (more or less) by blowing (most of the time) straight along the river, so beats were followed by runs in a reasonably orderly fashion. The steady stream of passing motor cruisers were also fairly well behaved – as were most of the GP14s on the start line.  A little more wind would have been welcome, but there was enough to keep the boats moving, and all three races were sent off without incident.

In theory, local knowledge is useful at a venue like this, and plenty of practice at sailing in the typically light and fluky river winds should pay dividends – but in the event it was one of the visitors who showed everyone else a clean pair of heels (and a nice pair of round holes in his transom) in all three races. Duncan has clearly been practising his light-weather skills, for he led every race from start to finish, leaving the rest of the fleet well in his wake. He did, however, miss the excitement of some hard-fought racing for the minor places, with close encounters between boats and frequent changes of position.

The newly inaugurated (and newly varnished) ‘Round Holes Trophy’ was thus awarded to Duncan Greenhalgh, crewed by Dorothea Debus. In his acceptance speech Duncan promised – or maybe threatened – to come back next year to defend his title.

Special prizes were awarded to Gareth Morris (oldest boat, aged 64), and to Nathaniel Graham (youngest competitor, one day short of his sixth birthday).

Full results on the Yachts & Yachting website.

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