Training Report – Grafham 10/10/15


This weekend saw the first weekend of the Spitfire Open Class Training and UKCRA Youth Training kick off. Coach Paul Wakelin and Oli Greber welcomed new teams to the training and gave out tips and advice for some basic boat settings.


Saturday morning kicked off at 10.30am with a briefing for the outline of the day. All teams defined their goals that they wanted to work towards over the weekend. The morning session was spent working towards these goals on a windward leeward course. Nick Swain and Jack Lennard had joined the training in the yellow class boat and were getting to grips with it in a steady 14 knot breeze.


After refueling over lunch the fleet returned to the water for some tacking and gybing practice with the riverbank exercise. After this there were rolling starts with a race on every third start. Racing was fast and furious with the new teams mixing it up against teams from previous years. Time on the water was maximised and all boats returned to the shore as the water was closed for the day. The debrief was quick with teams ticking off their completed goals set earlier in the day.


Sunday morning was an 8am start with boat tweaking and boat setup with Paul. Oli took the squad out for a fitness session before returning for the briefing at 9am. The group was split into two with one group discussing prestart plans and the other discussing windward mark rounding techniques.

Pre Start Checks

  • Know your watch. Set it to the correct sequence and rolling or single starts. The Optimimum Time watches will often display but will not function correctly when the battery is low.
  • Get transits for the start line in both directions if possible.
  • Check course bias
  • Look for gain features. 
  • Split Tacks if possible.
  • Define plan A and B.

In Sequence Routine

  1. Control the boat with slow maneuvers.
  2. Line up Between 2 and 1 minutes.
  3. Get assertive, keep your space and control the space below.
  4. Crew Countdown final 20 seconds.
  5. Triggerpull for start (Takes 7 to 10 seconds depending on wind)
  6. Start and keep in a clear lane. Tack if covered.

Windward Mark Rounding

  1. From Twin trapezing crew off the wire. (Helm will be in with heavy winds with crew remaining on wire holding onto rear foot loop).
  2. Lift the windward board on the way off the wire.
  3. Pull the tack line.
  4. Dump the jib if sailing in heavy winds.
  5. Kite Hoist and set kite.
  6. Jib adjustment.
  7. Leeward board setup.
  8. Mast Rotation and Downhaul adjustment.

For the remainder of the day the group would be competing with the Grafham Water Members in their Sunday morning club racing. Spitfires were part of the fast handicap race made up of dart 18s, RS 800s and musto Skiffs which made for a packed start line.


Race one saw Jack Butters and James King taking first place with locals Will and Megan Smith making big gains throughout the race to take second place. Spitfires dominated the front end of the fleet.


Race two saw a strong start from Sam Rowell & Ross Watkins and Nick Swain and Jack Lennard. Both teams sailed half of the starboard leg before covering the fleet on port in order to become the first two boats around the windward mark. Downwind legs were all about flying hulls. Team Philpott D’Arcy took evasive action from leeward laser resulting in a capsize loosing their position. Team Heritage had great speed and had closed the gap of 100m down to 4 seconds on the finish line. 


With an end time of 3pm all teams remained on the water for a single long session. With hull flying being a new experience for ex-monohull sailors a course was setup for some hull up action. A downwind start with spinnakers and hull flying made for a fantastic display of what the spitfire is all about and was a fun way to end the day. 


Well done to all of the new teams who joined us and kept the older teams on their toes. The Grafham Cat Open is next weekend (17/18th October) and we look forward to seeing you there.

Race 1race 2


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