Grafham 9 Hour Race


On the 2nd of July Grafham Sailing Club celebrated their 50th anniversary with a nine hour race and FFSC sailors Sam Rowell and Nick Swain joined in on the action to be the only travelling sailors to enter. The forecast was 20 knots so it was marginal whether we would attend.

The trip started off on the friday night with collecting the Spitfire from FFSC before making the drive up the A14 to Cambridgeshire. On arrival the club gates which should have been opened had been locked by a do-good dog walker. After scaling the fence and finding other campers the gates were unlocked and the tent was pitched in the dark.

Come 6am it was time to start rigging the boat. Several hours later the boat was ready and it was time for a briefing. Grafham teams had been organised and had several team members per team which meant each sailor only really had to sail for a few hours which gave them time to refuel and keep a solid race face on for the entire race. Sam and Nick had a plan to increase average lap times by not having a team and not stopping for the entire 9 hours.

10am and the race was off but we and many other teams were still putting up sails. Rules allowed teams to start between 10 and 11am which meant we didnt have to rush. Bananas and drinks were taped all over the boat and a bag was placed on a jetty in case we ran out of food for the day.

At 10.30am we hit the water and started smashing out the laps. For the first few laps there was a Nacra F16 and another Spitfire however both retired due to breakages. Half an hour later the scale of the task sank in… we just had to do what we had done another 18 times!

Lap after lap after lap we flew past lasers, fevas, flying 15s, Dart 18s and Sprint 15s. A few squalls came through raising the windspeed to 30 knots plus and combined with rain was like having needles stuck in your eyes. A few capsized occurred which soaked us both but some decent kit kept us warm. The sun rose, crossed the sky and then moved into a lower place.

Come 7am we were one of a handful of teams still sailing and even other boats were cheering us on. At 7.15 we were hooted across the line. Making for 18 laps in total and 87 miles of straight line sailing. Adjust that for beating and spinnaker runs down wind and well over 100 miles were sailed. Returning to the beach Grafham members helped us pull the boat up and started to derig it for us whilst we were handed cups of tea. Overall we took the prize for most number of laps and took 2nd place for average lap times after handicap.



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