The New Year has got off to a great start for the Dart 15 catamaran fleet. A change of name from Sprint 15 back to Dart 15 confirms this most exciting and versatile of catamarans as the most popular single handed catamaran, bar none, in the UK.
Its popularity is underpinned by an active racing circuit throughout the year, including a popular winter series which enables the fleet to get a monthly fix of racing during the long winter months.
The latest event at Draycote water sailing club allowed Dave Rowe and his sailing team to show case the fantastic new open meeting boat off loading and rigging area, which provides a capacious area to off load and rig boats on a stoned area conveniently located next to the lake for easy launching.
The weather forecast leading up to the event was predicting some exciting weather conditions (18 knots gusting to 30 knots) which promised an exciting and thrill packed day of racing. This suited the more adventurous sailors and understandably led to a number of sailors deciding to sit the event out and enjoy the escapades of those who braved the conditions from the shore.
Jenny Ball, John Pearce, Jason Clarke, Stuart Snell, Charles Watson, Jan Elfring, Ed Tuite Dalton, Pete Slater, Derek James and Liam Thom braved the conditions for a wet, windy and action packed Winter TT event .
Sailors from Marconi, Grafham, Draycote, Yorkshire Dales and Shanklin Sailing Clubs gathered on the start line to commence the first race. Race officers for the day were Tim Case, Richard and Steve Pell. After a timing malfunction the first race start was repeated with all boats hot to trot on the start line for a competitive start, with much shouting for “water”. The fleet screeched up the beat with some notable super human hiking from Liam, Jason and Jen as they tussled for the prize of first boat to the windward mark.
The trapezoidal course show cased the best of Dart 15 catamaran sailing with boats flying up the beat followed by a screaming reach allowing all cats to fly a hull and push the envelope of boat speed and trim to the absolute max in the freshening conditions.
The first race was won by Jenny Ball who employed a shrewd tactic of tacking off earlier than most on the beat to ensure clear air and water in worsening wind conditions to grow her hold on the lead during a strength sapping 45 minute first race.
Prior to race 2 Pete Slater had to make some quick adjustments to his mast rake to improve his boat handling in the windy conditions .
Race 2 saw all the competitors tuned into the windy conditions and were keen to improve upon positions in the first race. Jenny had got to grips with the wind and was first cat to the windward mark closely followed by Liam, Jason and Ed. Stuart Snell, Jan Elfring and John Pearce battled for position on the first beat tacking off early on the beat with Derek James over-standing the windward mark which didn’t pay off on lap one. On lap 2 local sailor Jan Elfing gave a master class to the race committee in how to get out of irons when he crash tacked on the starting line and stalled as the strengthening wind stalled his tack. Jan also managed to hit mark 4 on the final lap of the race whilst he was being hotly pursued by John Pearce for 6th place. Jan had obviously learnt from his previous failed tack and completed an exemplary 360 to maintain his lead over John Pearce who was sailing hot on his heels. Derek James employed the same tactic of over-standing the windward mark on the second lap and gained a number of places to secure 4th place around the windward mark hotly pursued by Jason Clarke. Jason pulled off a skilful overtake on the final reach to the 4th mark that saw him take 4th place in a well-executed manoeuvre claiming water at the mark. Jen was in the zone and had extended an unassailable lead and comfortably won race 2.
The wind shifted to the south for race 3 which resulted in race officer Tim Case repositioning the committee boat and windward mark. The start was exciting with the starting hooter timings catching a number of boats out. Heavy wind supremos Charles Watson and John Pearce had tuned into the conditions and were first and second boats to the windward mark. Ed Tuite Dalton had to retire due to a failed main sheet shackle just as he was looking to improve his overall position. The winners in the 3rd race were Liam Thom, John Pearce and Jason Clarke who secured 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in a tightly contested race. Competition was also tight amongst the fleet with Jan Elfring holding off a late charge from Derek James to claim 6th place in the last race.
The event was won by Jenny Ball who brilliantly secured two first places to win the event, closely followed by Liam Thom in second and a very competitive sail from Jason Clark gave him third place. The next Dart 15 winter TT event is at Datchet SC on the 12th February 2023 …see you there!
Report by Derek James
Full Series Results available here