Sprint National Championships, Instow, 25-27 June 2004

The Dart 15 National Sprint Championships took place at the North Devon Yacht Club, Instow on a long weekend from 25 to 27 June. The entry of 43 boats took part with a fantastic 23 boats from the NDYC and 20 travellers - 8 of which were from Gurnard SC.

Friday was sunny with a light westerly breeze. The first race was started on time but while more than half of the competitors were struggling to get to the race area against a strong tide in light winds. Local star, Colin Price, made no mistakes and led from start to finish from Steve Cole, Paul Jury and Roger Bone. The second race was sailed back-to-back with race one and by this time the wind had filled a little, but the thought of getting out on the trapeze remained a pipe dream. Defending National Champion, George Carter, got into the groove and won this race by a huge margin from Carl Blenkinsop, Laurie Gustar and Bob Carter. As the tide dropped the fleet retired to bask in the sun and to a BBQ on the sundeck of the NDYC.

Saturday was entirely different. It was wet and windy with a force 4-6 wind, which had swung to the south and was coming straight up the Torridge estuary. With the shape of the estuary this was a difficult direction to get a true upwind or downwind course. Principle Race Officer, Richard Stone, set a port hand olympic course with the windward mark off Instow beach, which was the best he could do in the circumstances. The beat was heavily starboard biased but the gusts, which came over the Appledore headland, made it interesting. Two races were sailed back-to-back and just to show that no luck was involved in these windy conditions, the top three places were exactly the same in both races. George Carter won both races from Robin Leather and Laurie Gustar. Further down the fleet there were many incidents with dismastings, broken jib halyards, capsizes and many incidents on running aground on the sand spit and Crowe rock. No serious damage was done, however. The fleet returned exhilarated and exhausted for the annual dinner courtesy if the NDYC.

Sunday was sunny initially with a force 3-4 wind which had returned to the westerly direction. This made a true beat possible and a starboard hand olympic course was set with a heavy port biased start line in a strong tidal flow off Appledore. Many competitors had not noticed the green flag and attempted a port hand course until they realized their error. First to the windward mark was R Carter, followed by Annette Maddison. Gustar took the lead on the second beat when the leaders ran aground on the sand spit across the east side of the estuary. On the next round G Carter worked his way to the front once more followed by Steve Sawford, who was by this time getting back in practice after a long layoff. At the gun the places went to G Carter, Sawford, Gustar and R Carter. The final race was sailed on the same starboard course but with a heavy starboard bias on the start line. First to the windward mark was Gustar followed by Cole with a fair distance to the next boats. Gustar led the race for several laps while G Carter and Sawford trailed in his wake. On the last beat G Carter took the lead after a port starboard incident while Gustar stuggled to keep his boat from capsizing. So in the end G Carter took his 5th gun of the weekend from Gustar, Sawford and Leather.

Thus after an exciting weekend in which all six races were sailed George Carter retained his title with scores of 10,1,1,1,1,1 from Laurie Gustar (12,3,3,3,3,2) and Robin Leather ( 9,5,2,2,6,4). The places were as follows:

Overall Results
1st G Carter Grafham 4pts
2nd L Gustar Gurnard 11pts
3rd R Leather Gurnard 13pts
4th C Blenkinsop Gurnard 17pts
5th S Cole Gurnard 17pts
6th S Sawford Grafham 18pts
7th P Jury Instow 23pts
8th R Carter Grafham 28pts
9th E Holmberg Shanklin 36pts
10th E Low Gurnard 37pts

The Winners

1st Lady: Annettte Maddison (Instow)
1st under 18: Elle Price (Instow)
Pro-Am: George Love & Gordon Smith
Heavyweight: E Holmberg