Stewartby sailing club hosted the first round of the Sprint 15 2022/2023 winter series. Thirteen visitors and 7 home boats were greeted by very unseasonal conditions, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.
After a quick briefing from race officer Richard Hargreaves, the sailors prepared themselves to head out onto the water.
With just 30 minutes until the scheduled start time, event organiser Scott Wilcox decided it was perhaps time to get his boat ready, unfortunately it was still packed up on the trailer from the previous event. With help from all the Stewartby sailors the quickest rigging of a Sprint 15 ever was witnessed.
The race team set a trapezoid course for the first race which was to see light and shifty winds across the course.
All boats made a clean start to race 1, Ray Gall decided to chance his luck and start on port from the pin end, after a lot of shouting from the other boats he decided to bail and tack onto starboard. Everyone initially headed off to the left side of the course before deciding when to tack to get on the lay line for the windward mark, the fleet soon spread out across the course. Class Chairman Ed Tuite-Dalton led the fleet with Jenny Ball and Jason Clarke following close behind for the first 2 laps. By lap 3 Jason Clarke had taken the lead, followed by Jenny Ball but Ed Tuite-Dalton had dropped back and local sailor Scott Wilcox had got up into 3rd place.
The first race finished with Jason Clarke taking the win with Jenny Ball and Scott Wilcox very close behind to take 2nd and 3rd respectively.
After a quick course adjustment by the race team the 2nd race was promptly started with Jason Clarke shooting off into the lead followed by George Love, Steve Sawford and Ray Gall.
Further back in the fleet Andy Bunyan joined club mate Colin Wright in a bit of formation sailing, unfortunately both managed to collide with the windward mark ensuring their places at the back of the fleet after doing the required penalty turns.
As the race continued the wind was steadily dropping and the race officer shortened the course after 3 laps, with Jason Clarke taken his 2nd win of the day followed by Steve Sawford and Ray Gall.
The 3rd race of the day started with most of the fleet pushing hard to get close to the line and fortunately the wind speed had increased. Ed Tuite-Dalton pulled out into the lead which he managed to maintain through to the finish.
As the race progressed the order in the fleet changed frequently, as people used different parts of the course to make good gains for one lap and losing them on the next. After four laps Ed Tuite-Dalton was followed home by George Love and Stuart Snell. Slightly further back there were a few tense moments as 7 boats rounded the last mark in close formation but rafted up together as the wind dropped. Steve Sawford tacked to break away from the pack and cross the finish line. The remaining boats slowly crept to the line with one unlucky sailor losing out by 5 places by the time he finished.
After a good day sailing the fleet headed to the shore and exchanged tales of the highs and lows of their day.
Overall results after the 3 races put Jason Clarke into 1st place which was his first TT event win and judging by his steadily improving performance over the season it could be the first of many.
Ed Tuite-Dalton finished 2nd and George Love 3rd. Scott Wilcox was the highest scoring Stewartby Sailor finishing in 6th place.
After the prize giving the sailors headed home but will meet again soon for the next round of 2022/2023 winter series which will return to Rutland Water on the 11th December.
Report by Andy Bunyan
Full Series Results available here