The weather conditions for the Draycote TT could not have been better, sun and a steady south westerly forecast for the day saw travellers from Marconi, Shanklin, Stewartby, Carsington and Grafham sailing clubs attend the mid summer TT event at Draycote SC with the prospect of champagne sailing on the cards.
The wind was a steady south westerly 18 knots and gusting throughout the day which lead to some lively and eventful sailing with a number of sailors taking an unplanned swim during the course of the event .
The racing format was slightly different with 4 back to back races taking full advantage of the one day TT event and the excellent sailing conditions. The race team set a trapezoidal course which offered brilliant sailing on all four legs with the Gybe at mark 3 catching a number of sailors out.
The event race team was lead by one of Draycote's rising stars in the youth fleet, James Knight , expertly supported by Steve Pell and Bill Hurr ( Both catamaran sailors ) who helped deliver not only some great racing but also took some amazing photo’s and video of the event on the water which illustrate brilliantly why the Sprint 15 is the catamaran to sail .
Race 1 was action packed from start to finish with the start being closely contested with boats challenging for the preferred start at the committee boat end. Some boats took advantage of a pin end start with Jan Elfring from Draycote SC making a flying start in his new boat and leading to the windward mark hotly pursued by Liam Thom, Ed Tuite and Scott Wilcox. The wind conditions were testing as Pete Slater from Draycote discovered in lap 1 as he completed a brisk run and rounded mark 3, gybing onto a powerful reach which ultimately over powered him and resulted in a spectacular pitch pole which saw him gracefully catapulted into his main sail before he expertly righted his boat losing him several places. Liam , Scott and Ed continued to extend their lead with Liam ultimately winning race 1 with some masterful displays of down wind sailing taking full advantage of the square run to consolidate his lead. Now Liam is a sea sailor but even he had to acknowledged that this pond sailing event offered both wind and waves enough to challenge any sailor!
Race 2 saw some really close racing with team Draycote ( Ed and Jan ) in some close racing with team Marconi ( Jason and Jenny ) fighting for the top four positions . The race lead swapped between upwind and down wind legs as sailors sailed to their strengths ( or weight advantage ) with Jason Clarke from Marconi SC demonstrating why he is an up and coming star and a future champion in the making. He accelerated off the start line and challenged more experienced sailors all the way around race 2 to ultimately secure a glorious victory in race 2.
The race was just as eventful for the rest of the fleet with a couple of notable capsizes... Ray Gall from Carsington decided it was time to christen his lovely new boat which was taking part in its first racing event, so whilst adjusting his batten tension before the start of race 2 he caught a gust and was deposited into the water and missed the rest of race 2... lesson for us all... don’t try and adjust batten tension on the water !
Rob Bard from Marconi didn’t want to be out done by Ray so he submarined his catamaran on the now notorious power reach from mark 3 upto mark 4 as the wind was building and as the bows submarined he pitch poled and joined Ray and Pete in the water for a swim .
Race 3 took place in more gusty wind conditions which tested all sailors. Again the start was critical with the top sailors all making gains on the start. Decision making on the beat was critical with most favouring a longer starboard beat down to the club house before tacking off. Again top honours were contested between team Draycote and Marconi. Marconi supremo Jenny Ball took an interesting approach tacking off the beat before the rest of the fleet to sail in her own lane in clear wind. Ultimately the dynamic duo of Ed and Jan ( Draycote SC ) took honours 1st and 2nd from Jenny and Jason ( Marconi SC ) with a notable 5th going to Dave Rowe from Draycote SC. Dave only sailed his Dart for the first time 6 weeks ago after a 2 year lay off which goes to show a good sailor never loses it! There were more spectacular capsizes with Andrew Berisford from Draycote being caught out by a cleated main on the now notorious gybe on mark 3 which resulted in his mast sticking into the lake bed and unfortunately he had to be rescued and retired from the event.
Race 4 saw a number of boats retire and the race for honours was closely contested. Again the start and decision making on the beat were critical. Racing was close between the top 6 boats with sailors from Stewartby, Shanklin, Marconi and Draycote all in the mix for honours. Richard Knight from Draycote SC had his best start skilfully navigating his way down the line before dropping into a prime position midway down the start line beating a number of top guns to their preferred starting position. By race 4 Ray Gall from Carsington SC had ironed out his batten issues, cleaned his boat and was back in contention with a brilliant 7th place in race 4 .
Ultimately the places in race 4 reflected the over all event places with honours going to Jenny Ball ( Marconi SC ) in race 4 and the TT event , when asked what her secret was Jenny said the key for her was to sail free and fast. Congratulations to Jenny and all contestants who contributed towards a great day of “Champagne” sailing.
Report by Derek James.
Pictures by Steve Pell.
Full Series Results available here