Catapult TT at Grafham Cat Open
October 17th-18th

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 Catapult came back to round off the 2015 TT season at the big Grafham Cat Open October 17th-18th. The big high pressure system sitting over the UK gave consistent Northerlies, moderate and rising on Saturday, and light on Sunday,to give excellent (and chilly) racing.

The seven Catapults made up almost all of the Medium Handicap fleet (and took all seven top places) on the customary Grafham port-rounding trapezoid course, the third fleet away, after the Dart 18s, and a big fleet of Sprint 15s (so an unpredictable tactical challenge throughout the event was threading through the Sprint back markers.)

The breeze on Saturday let Gareth and John trapeze from the off, with big gains upwind. They used slingshot starts (photo right) coming in fast to the middle of the line, on trapeze as they crossed.

 Race1 good starts saw Gareth Ede lead Alastair Forrest at the top mark. Gareth stretched away as John  Terry and George Evans came through, George catching John downwind on Lap 2 but not holding him off. The front four stayed close until Alastair recovered a broken outhaul and defended fourth.

  At the start of 
Race 2 John enjoyed luffing Alastair away at the committee boat end, and stretched away. Gareth again pulled out chasing John, and  Alastair and George continued a close battle for third, until George came through steadily downwind, holding the lead to the final short beat. 

Race 3 Alastair won the start but George came up quickly on him upwind At the front Gareth pulled away from John T on Lap 2. Chris with good boat speed, and Stuart pulled up to pass Alastair and chase George on lap 3, Stuart going on to take the fourth

(Above: characteristic Day 1 start: Alastair (524) defends the starboard pin end while Gareth (ahead) and John are already coming through on trapeze.)

  Sunday brought the forecast light fluctuating Northerlies,
with sudden shifts, The changes were too unpredictable to tack on, leaving the upwind tactical decision whether to stay out in the lake and come in on a long port leg, or try for the characterisiic Grafham lift on starboard along the shore (which risked wind shadow.) The downwind leg was off-set from dead downwind, but the Sprints forced tactical decisions of whether to gype onto port and head left to escape their blanketing.

The ROs set the same port-rounding trapezoid, initially with short reaches, extended after the first of three back-to-back races. The Race 4 start had a marked port-end bias, with Stuart and John electing a port-tack start, and Alastair coming down on starboard to disrupt them, only to edge over the line and loop back to restart at the back. Stuart chased John and Gareth round the first of two laps (photo above) with Syd Gage and Chris Phillips close behind. Gareth took the win from John. Behind, Alastair and George were gaining on the bunch ahead, and watched them all head off in a cloud of Sprints to the wrong down-wind mark, and inevitable withdrawal after three hard laps racing.

 Race 5 start kept the marked port bias, and John and Alastair capitalised only to see the starborad-starting boats get  abig lift, and Chris' boat-speed in this group took him to the front at the top mark. George chased and overtook, and then had Gareth coming up behind over the next lap, with these two duelling on the last short beat to register a tie for first on the line. John T came in ahaed of Chris in fourth, and further back, Syd came steadily up on Alastair to register the second dead heat of the race.

  Above: repairs at sea; George tapes his paddle to his broken tiller-bar, still chasing Stuart and John downwind.

 Left: the dancing man: Stuart gybes at the bottom mark just ahead of Syd (camera)

Alastair and Gareth got the  Race 6 start right, on starboard at the port end crossing ahead of John  and Stuart, and these four used the port end advantage to compete at the front, with John coming through to take the lead and win over four laps. The win was not enough to overcome the string of earlier wins by Gareth, taking the event win comfortably.

Behind, George fell backwards onto his tiller bar, and straightening fractured it, needing running repairs (photo above) but his earlier results kept a comfortable third place for the event.

(Below: Alastair leads George at the top mark, as Chris tacks.)


Rank Helm R1
Total Nett
1st Gareth Ede 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.5 (2.0) 7.5 5.5
2nd John Terry 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 (3.0) 1.0 12.0 9.0
3rd George Evans 3.0 3.0 3.0 4.0 1.5 (6.0) 20.5 14.5
4th Alastair Forrest 4.0 4.0 6.0 3.0 (6.5) 3.0 26.5 20.0
5th Stuart Ede 5.0 6.0 4.0 (10.0 RTD) 5.0 4.0 34.0 24.0
6th Chris Phillips (10.0 DNC) 5.0 5.0 10.0 RTD 4.0 7.0 41.0 31.0
7th Syd Gage 6.0 7.0 7.0 (10.0 RTD) 6.5 5.0 41.5 31.5

(Below: Chris chases down the reach, Race 4, in his high-viz Fastnet hat.)

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