GP 26 goes racing for first time

 Race report

By Bob Dempsey


We have had two races in the Super 30 series so far – the first race was extremely light (3 – 5 knots with a few gusts) and flukey but we could stay with the FT10s uphill and were faster downhill most of the time – hit the lead at one stage then got trapped out wide at Shark Island as the wind shifted from SW to SE at just the wrong time for us – back to last!. We got back to sixth then sailed towards the wrong mark (the real mark had been moved further north than normal to accommodate a laser fleet starting area) which put us back to last again and we got past a few on the way home to finish 13th over the line (3rd over the line in the smaller fleet that is doing the long series). Pretty unforgettable result but the boat went really well when we got the trim right. Not many sports boats in the fleet – the Young 780 beat us but the GP26 was faster most of the time but we made a lot more mistakes.


The 2nd race was pretty light as well but a bit more consistent (5- 7 knots with some 8-10 puffs which lasted a while). We were second to the top mark behind Shere Khan FT10 who had got away on a bit of a flier at the start with Very Tasty (the gun Hick 30 in the fleet with an articulated prodder) about ½ a boat length behind us and the other FT10 about 6-8 boat lengths behind. There was a period of good breeze for about 10 mins and we managed to get away from Tasty but got ourselves trapped to leeward of the Etchells fleet – hard to find away through them. Every time we tried to get to weather of them the boat just accelerated too quickly to get behind and above and to leeward there were just enough starboard tackers to make it difficult. We are still a bit tentative in mixed fleets with the A2 up, the boats is quick and the visibility is difficult but we are getting there. Tasty got through OK to windward of the Etchells and took a bit out of us to lead around the next mark by about 6  boat lengths. The breeze changed and we now had a 2.5 nm reach followed by a slightly shorter reach back. Initially Tasty got away a bit further and the two FT10s got through us but then we got a few puffs and the boat’s acceleration let us close the gap and none of them got away from us on the reverse reach. Around the last mark – kite up and we went straight past the 2nd FT10 who were a bit slow with the kite hoist and took plenty out of Shere Khan and Tasty – the breeze died almost completely and shifted over the last 200 metres and it looked like we might get past both of them but a huge header at the death put them both over the line before us which was fair enough, it was a huge shift that got us that close to them anyway (in the finish there was a  couple of minutes between them and us but it was only a few metres in distance).


We have been sailing the boat “5 up” in the first few races (which doesn’t help the boat in very light conditions) but only three or four of the crew will be available each week from here on so we have taken the opportunity early on to give everybody a chance to move around the boat and get used to everything. We are getting much better performance all round as we sail against good boats rather than just practicing on our own –  sailing on our own we were sheeting in too close upwind and sailing a bit high downwind, its much easier when you can see the other boats and just have to get past them or keep them behind! Initially, reaching against the larger boats was a real problem for us but we are getting better at using the boats acceleration in the puffs to get us back in touch. Very Tasty is a good benchmark for us because it is a light Hick 30 (no Engine), well set up and usually well sailed and one of the top performers in the Super 30 series and Chris Sligar gives us some useful feedback after the race and sent over the attached photos. It’s been too light to get anything really good – I’ll get something better to you as soon as I can (one of it planing at 15 or 16 knots would look good – it sure feels good). The SASC1 photo is from race one when we had just sailed past the two FT10s but it was very, very light and easy to overrun the breeze as you can see on Shere Khan. Our handicap started at 1.010 and is now about 1.038 so the race committee seem to think it’s got potential – but its all a bit academic, we are only worried about the scratch results anyway!