ASAP Wilsonian Grand Prix July 2007


A small turnout for the Wilsonian Grand Prix saw Neil Spink and Ben Rayner from YDSC, Steve Carr from Deben battling against the local knowledge base of Mike Gower, Phil Harris and Ray Craddock.

Having survived the parting of the trailer board en-route (OK in the last 300 yards) the YDSC visitors and Steve Carr all arrived early to prepare the boats for an early start on Saturday.


Neil Spink wanted to measure his rake etc. as a couple of shrouds were showing signs of wear and borrowed Ben’s B+Q tape measure. ‘Do you know that this starts at minus12cm?’ – turns out Ben has had the wrong settings since the Nationals last year!!!!

To add insult to injury, Ben’s suspicions of a small mainsail proved to be correct! However, both Mike and Neil assured him it would make no difference as it was only missing a few inches off the foot!!!!

The visitors sampled the selection of beers available (Mike having the excuse that he was driving to keep a clear head) before heading off to the ‘Two Seconders’.


We were woken early to the sound of wind. A hearty breakfast looking out at the Medway brought back memories of last year. Despite an entire complement of ‘light weather’ specialists the wind was reaching Force 5 and white horses were prancing past the club.

Luckily, by the allotted start of 11am the wind had slackened to a 4 and the sun was out.

Race 1

The course will be familiar to those that sailed last year – number 23 has a total of 17 Bouys to pass including 6 miles down-wind (against the tide), tri-angle-sausage, windward-leeward and 6 mile beat back home (against slackening tide).

The early lead was taken by Phil who capsized before the fist buoy with kite up. Ben then took the lead before being ‘taken out’ by a V3000 in a gust. Neil then capsized whilst checking that Ben was OK – so at the first buoy it was eventually Mike followed by the early swimmers. Mike’s turn was next wiping out on a big gust allowing everyone through.

By the third buoy Phil had a substantial lead followed by Neil hotly pursued by Ben who had missed the second mark and had to go back.

The fourth leg was a bit hairy – a 2 mile stretch that was just OK for kites. Mike hoisted his kite quickly gaining on Neil who was forced to do the same. Unfortunately his kite came out in a knot and after much pulling was free but tight at exactly the same time as a huge wave and strong gust hit for a spectacular nose dive and capsize.

Mike quickly seized the advantage only to go over himself at the next mark allowing Neil back through.

The upwind legs saw tide against wind with some pretty rough conditions assisted occasionally by motor cruisers charging through the pack at full throttle.

The positions held until the last with Phil 1st, Neil 2nd, Mike 3rd and Ben 4th passing a capsized Steve on the line!

Race 2

The second race was much shorter (Number 19 – only 10 buoys) given that the day was running out.

By now the tide was going out meaning a tide and wind assisted start and outward leg followed by a return against the tide.

For some reason the Wayfarer Fleet decided to launch and drift across our start causing some last minute manoeuvring but again Phil took the early lead only to go over again – he didn’t recover as when he got upright 20 minutes later he had ‘a ton of shrimp’ in his sail!

The first buoy saw Ben leading from Neil for a high-speed kite assisted down-wind leg.

5 minutes in Neil heard a ‘bang’ which swiftly turned into the Kite Foot rope peeling its way down the pole, splitting it apart as it went. Luckily it held at about 1/3rd of the way down meaning that the kite, though a ‘bit floppy’ was continuing to pull strongly.

The Third leg started too tight for the kite with Ben and Neil well in lead.

Neither wanted to hoist the kite (Ben because he was in the lead and Neil because he didn’t want to unless he had to). Unfortunately that proved to be the case as Mike took the decision to hoist ‘what may’ and started to gain rapidly. This forced Neil to hoist his and Ben quickly followed suit. By the end of the downwind leg Ben led, with Mike passing Neil who had to drop early to ensure the kite came down at least most of the way.

The beat back saw a vicious tide running so local knowledge started to pay off. Ben stayed too far out and slowed in the tide to be passed by Mike and Neil (who learnt that lesson last year!) and then ran aground when he came back inshore. Mike started to pull away slowly and on the next downwind Ben fell back further when his spin-lock exploded.

On the last leg Neil was sufficiently behind Mike to assume 2nd place until Mike did his best to give up the lead by falling out of his boat. Neil got the bit between his teeth and closed the gap but Mike managed to stay attached and right the boat pretty quickly, only to try again by hoisting his kite on a leg that was too tight.

Still, he retained position so it was Mike1st, Neil 2nd, Ben 3rd, Steve 4th Phil 5th.

Overnight the standing was Mike and Neil on 4 points a piece followed by Phil, Ben, Steve and Ray

Some repairs were now necessary but Neil’s pole and Ben’s cleat were fixed in time for the BBQ and more beer with Mike joining the ‘Two Seconders’ in his new ‘Two Second Lite’ tent!

Losses for the day included:

Neil Spink – trailer Board (almost), gloves (washed overboard), watch (flew overboard) and Kite Pole
Ben Raynor – Spinlock

Gains for the day:
Ben Raynor – 12 cm of mast rake, knowledge that his sail is under size (doesn’t slow him down wind though!)
Phil Harris – ‘One ton of shrimp’


This morning the wind (what there was) came from the East. This meant a beat out against the tide using the same course as Saturday morning.

Race 3

The start saw an early lead for Neil but that disappeared on the second leg as Mike used his local knowledge, tacking off into the slacker water followed by Ben. Half way down the leg it was neck and neck.

Neil managed to pull away when Mike and Ben headed out into the current and then stole a blinder, heading across the channel into clear air and past most of the ‘fast fleet’ who had started 5 minutes earlier.

We are talking relative here because it took 2 hours for Neil to cover the first four marks and be within 200 meters of the (shortened course) line and assured victory, only to be told ‘out of time’.

88 disgruntled sailors and one very disgruntled Vortex sailor headed for home and lunch.

Race 4

The 4th and final race saw a course of only 8 buoys with everything to play for between Mike and Neil. The wind was freshening slightly and the tide was slack.

All the boats covered each other at the start but it was Neil who made it to the first buoy in the lead. Unfortunately, this was about 20 meters behind the lead V3000 which meant dirty air and both Mike and Ben were able to point way higher. A quick decision to tack off worked with Neil having a lead from Ben by the upwind mark.

Now the sea breeze kicked in finally with a good 20 knots and a slack downwind leg (against the slower fleets beating up). All three ‘went for it’ and made it to the next buoy for a return upwind in the same order.

Neil only had to stay ahead of Mike and with Ben between the race looked sealed. Ben wanted to win though and pushed it a bit far, capsizing and letting Mike through to 2nd place. This forced Neil to hoist his kite on the last short leg despite being in the middle of a fleet of 29ers. It paid off with the lead retained and Mike 2nd from a wet Ben.

Overall Results:

Neil Spink 2 2 DNF 1
Mike Gower 3 1 DNF 2
Ben Raynor 4 3 DNF 3
Phil Harris 1 4 DNC DNC
Steve Carr 5 6 DNF 4
Ray Craddock DNC 5 DNC DNC

Overall a great fun weekend with the customary fantastic welcome from the Wilsonian club who made the visitors feel really welcome.

Neil Spink