All sewn up! Grafham Grand Prix goes to the Fourteeners

24 Oct All sewn up! Grafham Grand Prix goes to the Fourteeners

All sewn up! Grafham Grand Prix goes to the Fourteeners

Dick Johnson / Howard Steavenson

With Christmas out of the way, veteran Fourteener Howard Steavenson took to the water on December 30 to shed some of the turkey and mince pies.

It was Grafham Grand Prix time!

Almost 170 boats sailed in four classes and Howard, crewed by Adam Ovington and one other Fourteen were entered with 31 other boats in Fast Handicap.

Two races made up the day and with a reasonable eight to ten mph in the morning, dropping to about five in the afternoon, there was enough to get the boats round the course.

B14s made up the biggest class within Fast Handicap, followed by the RS 800s but Howard and Adam weren’t phased and showed them the way round at worst circulating in the top four, This included beating a couple of cats, on the water.

After the race was shortened to four laps, Howard and Adam were 3rd on the water, but corrected out as comfortable winners on handicap ahead of a couple of B14s and a 49er.

After suitable ministrations on frozen extremities and enough food to fuel Howard for the afternoon’s efforts, the intrepid duo were out on the water again for the second race.

Tynemouth’s finest went for a middle of the line start and slotted neatly into their place in the top four once again as they headed up the middle of the first beat.

This time, however, in the lighter winds, the RS800s and the B14s were closer to hand. The breeze continued to drop throughout the race and while the 49er pulled away at the front, Howard and Adam maintained their position in second, followed by the cats who were eventually overhauled by B14s and RS800s.

Despite the light breeze not being the best of conditions for a T-foil 14, Howard and Adam maintained their position on the water, though at the finish it was not at all clear who had won. Had the 49er been far enough ahead or were the B14s close enough to nick the win?

In the end, Fourteen’s finest had done enough to take the second race to add to the first, convincing the upstarts that our boats really are best. Well done to Howard and Adam.

It wouldn’t be Howard if he hadn’t got something to say about the day.

What follows is an interesting comment on the race and on the skills of past Fourteeners who had opted to sail the race in other classes.

“Thanks for the kind words. However, as you are well aware, 85 percent of winning in a 14 is down to the crew so its Adam Ovington you should be congratulating!.

“In fact the conditions were in our favour. We were flat out twin wiring for most of the time using all the power in the rig and foils whilst 49ers and B14’s were not fully hiking so we made full use of our handicap – still I think the B14’s got a bit of a shock when we lapped most of them in the first race! – As did the leading 49er when we led them on the water for the first lap of the 2nd race – and beat the 2nd 49er to the finish!

“It would appear that I’m at last learning to sail a modern 14 a bit better despite the state of my fitness – but it helps when the crew can get me out of jail!

“There is a photo in the Yachts and Yachting report, taken along the start line of the second race which disproves the yells from some nearby RS800 sailors who were insistent that I was over the line at the start. I knew I wasn’t as I had the usual Grafham transit (on the electricity pylon – as it always is at Grafham!) –  I told them that before they start telling me I’m over – they should find out where the start line actually is!

“The results at Grafham really do give the 14 Class something to shout about, as follows:

“The event is split into four divisions each with their own start: Fast Handicap; Medium Handicap; Slow Handicap and Singlehanders.

“Have a look at the results. No less than three of the four divisions were won by genuine 14 sailors:

“Ian Pinnell (our current POW points champion) won Medium Handicap in a 505;  Chris Lewns (sailed 14s for years with Jarrod Simpson) won the Slow handicap in a Merlin Rocket; and Adam and I got the Fast Handicap.

“In fact after the prize giving I was desperately enquiring about the winner of the Singlehanders to see if he had any 14 sailing under his belt so we could claim a clean sweep!

“There was an amusing moment when all the winners were asked to line up for a photo after prize giving when I deliberately delayed the photographer by shaking each winner’s hand in turn, congratulating them on their win and saying, in as loud a voice as possible, so all assembled could hear, “another 14 sailor” as I shook their hand.

“I hope the message was driven home! – but no harm in telling everyone that 14 sailors generally kicked ass at the Grafham Grand Prix!”

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