2014 Grassholme Cup

Posted on September 7, 2014 12:00 am


2014 Grassholme Cup

The Grassholme Cup is usually one of the most competitive events held by Teesdale Sailing Club and this year’s event was no exception. 2013 winner Tony Merry was expected to make a strong defence in his Solo and arrived bright and early to set up his boat ready to race.

As more competitors turned up the stage was set for a showdown with 2013 absentees, the Hewitt’s of Durham, (and other hot local contenders).

Getting 16+ competing dinghies on the water is an exercise in logistics that can take quite a long time but, when they were almost all afloat Tony hoisted his sail, with just 5 minutes to go, when disaster struck. His main halyard (the rope that pulls the sail up the mast) broke and disappeared putting paid to his chances of even getting his boat wet, let alone winning a race or two – such is life for a sailor!

So race 1 started with the remaining boats all heading up the reservoir towards the first mark, but there was a problem – only 4 boats had started correctly and a general recall was ordered. By this time the safety boat crews had been supplemented by an extra person to help out!

The first three places of race 1 were shared between the Hewitts – James, Richard and William, an ominous start for the other competitors.

Unfortunately, whilst race 1 was in progress Pinky, one of our safety boats, decided to have a bit of fun with driver Bob Kay. Bob was reversing the boat when it decided it liked being going backwards and refused to disengage reverse gear. A bewildered Bob summoned the rib to come and assist, whilst performing some tight circles!

After lunch, Officer of the Day (OOD) John Pallister decided a change of course was needed for the two afternoon races and so the clubs new, big, orange marks were moved and race 2 commenced following a similar pattern to race 1 until disaster struck James Hewitt in his Laser. James had a commanding lead which evaporated as he was rounding mark two when the wind strengthened and changed direction by 180 degrees – a swim followed along with some cursing – such is life for a sailor!

This opened the door for Catherine Kelham to sail through and take the win ahead of David Fowell (GP14) and Paul Davison (Laser) – wot no Hewitts!

The stage was set for the final race of the day. With one of the scheduled three races eligible to be discarded, any of 6 leading boats had a chance of winning the cup.
The third race started in a similar fashion to races 1 and 2 with the leading contenders getting away well before James Hewitt opened up a gap that was never closed. It finished just like race 1 with the Hewitts taking the three top positions.

When all the calculations had been done, both Richard (sailing his Miracle with Geraint) and James had one win and one second but James had to settle for second place when the discarded race was taken into account. Third spot was taken by Catherine who just beat the youngest Hewitt, William.

The racing was close, the winds had been shifting about all the time making the sailing conditions challenging but this was an event that will be remembered for some “what if’s”.

  • Would Tony have retained the cup had his halyard not broken?
  • Would James Hewitt have won had he not capsized in race 2?
  • Would Pinky still be doing circles if she had not been rescued by the rib crew?

We will never know of course, but the Grassholme Cup in 2015 should be very interesting!

A final observation from the safety crew, Imogen and Tony, – we had a great time watching the boats competing in the racing. The star performer has to be the clubs Laser Vago (the fastest boat in the fleet) performing manoeuvres that will not be found in any sailing manual! It was being sailed by Chris Dauber and John Shepherd who clearly had one intention – to have fun!

The Vago is a trapeze boat (a boat where the crew has a harness and hangs from a wire from the mast to help keep the boat upright). So for our fourth “what if” we are left wondering what might have happened had the crew had a harness – standing on the side of the boat holding the trapeze line with one hand and spinnaker sheet in the other does not really work, but it looked like fun to us!

Report by Tony Merry as Chris Dauber was too busy having fun and mending Pinky!