Sprint 15 (formerly Dart 15) Winter TT at Queen Mary

On Sunday February 13th the recently renamed Sprint 15 (formerly the Dart 15) fleet visited Queen Mary for the fourth event of their Winter Series. The weather forecast for the day was for strong to gale force winds over most of the country. The weather certainly showed up and so did 18 intrepid Sprint 15 sailors. As it turned out, a couple watched from the shore, but with these conditions you could hardly blame them. When boats are capsizing on the way to the start, you know the conditions are difficult.

For the event, race officer Martin Pride and assistant, Peter Hinton set the fleet a square course on the eastern side of Queen Mary reservoir.

At the start of the first race, National Champion George Carter shot into the lead, closely pursued by Chris Black, Paul Craft, Gordon Goldstone and a chasing pack. The second leg was a high-speed reach, exciting, but not too many problems, but with the wind strengthening towards the centre of the reservoir, the next turn to the down-wind leg was far more testing. Carter and Black held off the pack, but Goldstone dropped back a place as Andy Chidwick came powering through, Steve Sawford and Bob Carter were close by. As the race progressed, the conditions grew worse. Adrian Brunt went over when his mainsheet jammed, but he was only one of many. Every one was struggling with the conditions, the wind was strong, in the region of 25 m/hour, but the real problem was the massive squally gusts, which would suddenly blow across the water.

George Carter was coping the best and extended his lead, which he held to the finish, but Chris Black was always, a secure second place. Paul Craft sailed impressively to take 3rd spot. Behind Craft, Steve Sawford and Bob Carter had been working steadily to climb to 4th and 5th respectively. Gordon Goldstone just managed to hold off Erling Holmberg for 6th place and Andy Chidwick kept ahead of Paul Tanner, Keith Chidwick and Stuart Pierce at the finish.

By the start of the second race the conditions were quite severe. Several people had retired after the first race and a depleted field started the second race.

Again, George Carter led the field round the first mark with Chris Black close at hand. On the next leg, Paul Craft lying 3rd caught a huge gust, which tipped him over in front of the chasing pack, unfortunately damaging his sail in the process.

The downwind leg was again the tester, with many people being unable to gybe or making crash manoeuvres to avoid a pitch pole. Andy Chidwick was one of many forced to retire following a capsize.

By the 2nd lap, George Carter was well in front, only to lose it all when a fore-stay shackle broke and put him out of the race. This left Steve Sawford and Chris Black as the leaders to race to the finish. Behind them, Paul Tanner overtook Bob Carter and Erling Holmberg on the difficult downwind leg. A very tired Gordon Goldstone was hanging on in 6th place. This remained the order till the finish and these 6 were the only finishers.

In the final reckoning, Chris Black with 2 solid 2nd places took the overall win from Steve Sawford ( 4th & 1st), Bob Carter was 3rd. The unlucky George Carter was placed 7th.

The final event of the Sprint15 Winter series takes place at Grafham Water on March 13th.

Overall Results
1st C. Black Grafham
2nd S. Sawford Grafham
3rd B. Carter Grafham
4th P. Tanner Shanklin
5th E. Holmberg Shanklin
6th G. Goldstone Queen Mary

For the full results, see the series table here.