National Championships, 14-16 August 2004

The Dart 15 National Championships were held at Whitstable Yacht Club on 14 -16 Aug and the entry was 59 boats. After a practice lap on the Saturday the wind promptly died and racing was postponed to the following day after a series of postponements. On the Saturday evening the Class dinner was held in the Whitstable Yacht Club with about 90 attendees.

On Sunday the wind was a force 2 - 3 from the West and the Championship programme got underway with 4 races sailed - 2 back-to-back before and after lunch. Race officer, Mike Fitzpatrick, and his crew set a trapezoidal course and race 1 was won by George Carter from Stuart Snell, Erling Holmberg, Bob Rowntree and Tom Gall in a race which it was vital to take the shore side of the course. Race 2 followed and by this time the fleet had learnt the advantage of the shore side of the beat. G Carter led from start to finish from Snell and Steve Hanby, who had now picked up from a poor result in the first race. After a short lunch break Snell came back strongly in race 3 and took his first gun from G Carter, Bob Carter and Jeremy White. Race 4 saw Hanby lead from start to finish and the following places were G Carter, Snell and Steve Sawford respectively. Thus after a full day of 4 races, the fleet retired to debate how a new builder for the boat should be appointed at the Class Association AGM, now that the Laser Centre has agreed to give up the licence to build the boat.

On Monday the wind had swung a little to the South West and had freshened which made for more exciting racing. Race 5 was led by G Carter, Hanby and R Carter until Chris Black got a huge lift on the port tack of the second beat and took the lead. G Carter recovered the lead by the gun but Black held onto to a deserved second place. It was 'business as usual' in race 6 with the finishing sequence of G Carter, Snell and Hanby.

The final race (#7) took place after a short lunch and with the stongest wind of the weekend (force 4). Snell put in a short tack out to sea and was clear ahead at the windward mark from G Carter. On the second beat Holmberg got lifted out to sea and caught back to third place. As the race developed G Carter took control once more and the finishing sequence after an exhilarating last race was G Carter, Snell, Hanby, Black and Holmberg. Leading Lady, Jenny Ball, had her best race coming in to take a strong 7th place.

Thus after an excellent 7 race championship, George Carter (1,1,2,2,1,1,1) was the winner from Stuart Snell (2,2,1,3,7,2,2) and Steve Hanby (9,3,8,1,3,3,3). Mark and Jacob Aldridge won the two up competition by a single point from Mark and Freya Sanders and Jenny Ball was the lady champion. Tom Gall was the first youth with an excellent 6th place overall from James Tovey (17th overall). Grafham won the team trophy with 3 places of the top 4.

After the championship racing the fleet moved on to a 4 day fun programme which included a crews race, a cruise up the Swale Estuary for lunch at the Shipwrights Arms, a visit to Shellness community on Sheerness and a cruise to Herne Bay. The class would like to thank the Whitstable Yacht Club for their hospitality and running an excellent weeks sailing.

Bob Carter.

Overall Results
1st G. Carter Grafham 5pts
2nd S. Snell Grafham 9pts
3rd S. Hanby Beaver 13pts
4th R. Carter Grafham 22pts
5th E. Holmberg Shanklin 29pts
6th T. Gall Carsington 29pts

Ladies: 1st J Ball (Marconi), 2nd E Buckels (Thornbury) 3rd G Woolven & Elma (Whitstable)

Two-up: 1st M & J Aldridge (Grafham), 2nd M & F Sanders (Herne Bay), 3rd T & J Drake (Sandwich Bay)

For the full results table, click here.