A bright day and moderate breeze greeted the 16 boats competing for the Chris Black memorial trophy in the Gill Sprint 15 Winter TT.
Race Officer Nigel Denchfield, took to the water on the committee boat & anchored in good time close to the Northern shore to determine the Sprint 15 square course position alongside GWSC club racing marks. Four Yellow/Orange pillar buoys identified the course for the 16 Sprint 15’s to navigate over 3 back to back races. The forecast for gusty conditions at times proved correct but all manageable and it was a good breeze for a decent blast round the cans.
Race 1 set off promptly and the Sprint 15’s were first away having been promoted amongst the GWSC club sailors for the day. The wind was Southerly which meant the beat remained quite central and as the fleet got off the line Mark Aldridge in #66 was first around the windward mark closely followed by Steve Sawford #1989 & Jenny Ball #2025, Paul Craft #1982, Stuart Snell #2022, Ed Tuite Dalton #2023. The top reach was reasonably square and sufficiently away from the South shore so that the wind was less interrupted leading onto the run down to the leeward mark. Mark took an early gybe to keep an inside line downwind as did Steve, however Jenny went further out to try and find some extra pressure. The bottom reach was quite broad and heading up around mark 3 enabled the line to be fetched on port tack, so one less tack on the 2nd beat for most saw the positions up front remain the same for lap 2 and into lap 3 when Steve took Mark on the beat having gone left where Mark picked a line through the club laser fleet more centrally which wasn’t the fastest course as Steve rounded the windward mark in the lead. Mark managed to get in front of Steve on the 3rd run and lead over the line into lap 4 with Jenny in 3rd, Paul in 4th and Ed 5th. Steve then proceeded to sail away from Mark in a stellar performance as Jenny also overtook #66 who was taking on water due to a lost port hatch cover and going slower & slower. Race 1 finished with Steve victorious, Jenny 2nd, Mark listing 3rd, Paul 4th, Ed 5th & David Ball 6th.
As club racing was finishing Mark called upon a RIB to help source a hatch cover, but to no avail so it was an early bath for #66 as race 2 got underway promptly as ever with Nigel as RO.
Paul Craft #1982 was first around the windward mark, followed by Jenny, David, Ed & Steve which is where the positions remained on to the second lap. Steve & David went off to the left side of the beat as the other leaders stayed on the right side although it made little difference to Paul who was starting to extend his lead quite considerably followed by Ed, David, Jenny & Steve onto lap 3. Over the line after 3 laps by some considerable margin was a lonely Paul, Ed, Jenny, Steve, David and young gun Jason Clarke getting some better boat speed.
Race 3 got underway with reduced pressure and a slight swing to the East. Jason had now gotten himself dialled in and was in pole position off the line & Jenny tacked off to try the right side of the beat which did not pay with race 2 winner Paul also tacking off a little further up that leg to no avail. At the windward mark it was Jason in the lead which proved to be a good safe position as Jan Elfring crash tacked to round mark 1 which didn’t quite go to plan and he capsized on top of Frank Sandells who was having his best race of the day until that point. Paul avoiding the carnage caught the buoy so did his penalty turn and the remainder of the fleet went left or right of the incident area to progress on their race. As the fleet came around to lap 2, Jason and David had been battling it out swapping positions although it was Jason who rounded mark 1 first, then David, Stuart, Paul and Jenny. Lap 3 saw Jason keeping his lead despite various manoeuvres around the course by David, sister Jenny, Stuart, Paul and Steve and race 3 concluded the day’s racing with Jason Clarke victorious.
Final positions for the day were 1st Paul Craft, 2nd Steven Sawford & 3rd Jenny Ball – all on 5 points and with final positions based on count back. The overall Winter Series Winner was also concluded with our illustrious Chairman the winner, Paul Craft in 2nd and Jenny Ball 3rd – also all on 8 points with final positions based on count back. Close and competitive racing at its very best.
It’s great to see our fleet youngsters doing well and winning races, so congratulations to Jason who worked hard for his win as he’s pushed a few of us hard more recently. Take note also that all 3 races were won with the ‘older’ boats, so no matter how new your boat or equipment it’s the nut on the tiller that’s the important part & do remember folks to put you hatch covers on properly! We were also delighted to welcome Sprint 15 TT first timers Len Flynn from Thorpe Bay and Andrew Clarke from home club Grafham. It was also great to have Ian Mills from Tankerton back out on the circuit.
Thank you to all visiting boats, club sailors, our race committee, GWSC safety fleet and shore staff in making this an excellent event & also to Judith Black & daughter who were on hand for the prize giving and in particular to pass on the Chris Black memorial trophy to Paul Craft in memory of Grafham Sprint 15 Grand Master Chris.
Pictures Copyright Paul Sanwell/OPP
Full Series Results available here