Grafham Water Sailing Club TT : Winter Series
Sunday 12th March 2023

The Gill Dart 15 Winter TT got underway in near perfect sailing conditions for the 13 hardy competitors braving a cool, fresh mainly South Westerly breeze with a steady 22 knots on the start line for race 1 of 3 scheduled back to back races.

Our race officers for the event were the ever efficient team of Nigel & Fiona Denchfield and kindly assisted on the day by Grafham cat sailor Tony Stokes.  With the assistance of the superb mark laying/rescue team from GWSC a trapezoidal course was set with the beat ~ 850m (extended for race 3 to 950m) & the Dart 15’s were first fleet away with a fairly neutral line seeing all boats starting on starboard tack.  The breeze was steady and predictable although some gusts that would catch out any ‘sheeted in’ sailing techniques & the first beat saw Mark Aldridge around the windward mark in pole position, closely followed by Steve Sawford, Jenny Ball, Charles Watson & Jon Pearse.  Race 1 continued around the trapezoid in much the same order with some foresight needed around the mark rounding to allow all club racing classes room given our approach & exit angles were differing.

Race 2 was efficiently underway with a similar start line & again it was Mark Aldridge who took a central approach to the beat making it first around the windward mark.  Following closely were Dart 15 Association Chairman Ed Tuite Dalton, Charles Watson, Jon Pearse, Simon Farthing who had now woken from winter hibernation & Steve Sawford.  The downwind leg saw Farthing gain some places as Sawford was also gaining throughout lap 2, but not enough to get past our Chairman who was holding a solid 2nd.  Jenny Ball who clearly doesn’t like 22 knots was sailing strongly quietly moving up the fleet & finishing lap 2 in 4th position.  Lap 3 became lively with some good gusts and Aldridge buried both bows approaching the wind ward mark in a poor attempt to sail upwind of an ill positioned fishing boat & was extremely lucky to keep it upright.  In the fleet Jan Elfring managed a pitch pole whilst Jacob Aldridge having not sailed a Dart 15 or anything else for that matter for 7 years was going well and enjoying the conditions and having a good 3 race battle with Ray Gall, with Yahoo!! coming out on top. Race 2 finished after 3 laps with Aldridge, Tuite Dalton, Sawford, Ball, Farthing, Watson & J.Aldridge being the first 7 boats over the line.

Race 3 saw a slight softening of the wind & a longer beat now up to 950m in an attempt to keep the fleets apart a bit more.  Sawford was first to the windward mark having tacked slightly earlier on the first beat and was just ahead of a charging Watson & Pearse who had tacked off even earlier and were fast approaching on Starboard tack, so a careful mark rounding was needed with these boat speeds & the odd capsized laser to contend with.  The top reach still provided entertainment for our loyal band of spectators and as the boats rounded mark 2 the order was Sawford, Watson, Farthing, Aldridge & Pearse.  The downwind leg was now favouring a starboard tack although Aldridge ducked the leaders and took an inside line to make the post of some extra pressure & reached mark 3 now in the lead with Sawford, Watson, Pearse & Farthing in hot pursuit.  Lap 2 was underway and as the boats circulated once more ahead of the final lap of the day the order was Aldridge, Farthing, Watson, Sawford, Ball & Pearse.  Some tactical sailing ended race 3 as the finishing order was Aldridge, Farthing, Watson, Sawford & Ball.

A by now weary fleet retired to the shore for some boat packing up, a hot shower, some excellent food courtesy of Lisa & crew in the GWSC wet bar with prize giving to follow in the GWSC Top Bar.

Winner of the Gill Dart 15 Winter TT was Grafham sailor Mark Aldridge who received a very generous voucher from Gill along with the Chris Black Memorial Trophy from Judith Black, with Steve Sawford (Rutland Sailing Club) 2nd receiving a lovely blue Gill wet bag & Simon Farthing 3rd (Grafham Water Sailing Club) also receiving a prize of a Gill Hat.

Report by Mark Aldridge
Pictures by David Clarke

Rank Class Sail Helm Club   R1 R2 R3 Total Nett
1st Dart 15 66 Mark Aldridge Grafham Water Sailiing Club   (1.0) 1.0 1.0 3.0 2.0
2nd Dart 15 2033 Steve Sawford Rutland Water Sailing Club   2.0 2.0 (4.0) 8.0 4.0
3rd Dart 15 1898 Simon Farthing Grafham Water Sailiing Club   (5.0) 5.0 2.0 12.0 7.0
4th Dart 15 1942 Charles Watson Yorkshire Dales Sailing Club   4.0 (6.0) 3.0 13.0 7.0
5th Dart 15 2025 Jenny Ball Marconi Sailing Club   3.0 4.0 (5.0) 12.0 7.0
6th Dart 15 2023 Ed Tuite Dalton Draycote Water   6.0 3.0 (7.0) 16.0 9.0
7th Dart 15 1940 Derek James Draycote Water   (12.0) 9.0 6.0 27.0 15.0
8th Dart 15 2028 Ray Gall Carsington Sailing Club   7.0 (10.0) 9.0 26.0 16.0
9th Dart 15 1962 Jacob Aldridge     9.0 7.0 (10.0) 26.0 16.0
10th Dart 15 1988 Jon Pearse Marconi Sailing Club   (8.0) 8.0 8.0 24.0 16.0
11th Dart 15 2015 Nigel James Marconi Sailing Club   11.0 11.0 (16.0 DNC) 38.0 22.0
12th Dart 15 2030 Jan Elfring Draycote Water   10.0 (16.0 DNC) 16.0 DNC 42.0 26.0
13th Dart 15 2022 Stuart Snell Grafham Water Sailiing Club   (16.0 DNF) 16.0 DNC 16.0 DNC 48.0 32.0
13th Dart 15 1522 Andrew Clarke Grafham Water Sailiing Club   (16.0 DNC) 16.0 DNC 16.0 DNC 48.0 32.0
13th Dart 15 1917 Jason Clarke Marconi Sailing Club   (16.0 DNC) 16.0 DNC 16.0 DNC 48.0 32.0


Full Series Results available here

Una Fleet
CompetitorsEvent Placings
NameSailClubFormatHandicap PlaceFleet Place
Mark Aldridge66Grafham Water Sailing ClubUna Rig11
Steve Sawford2033Rutland Water Sailing ClubUna Rig22
Simon Farthing1898Grafham Water Sailing ClubUna Rig33
Charles Watson1942Halifax Sailing ClubUna Rig44
Jenny Ball2025Marconi Sailing ClubUna Rig55
Ed Tuite Dalton2023Draycote Water Sailing ClubUna Rig66
Derek James1940Draycote Water Sailing ClubUna Rig77
Ray Gall2028Carsington Sailing ClubUna Rig88
Jacob Aldridge1962Grafham Water Sailing ClubUna Rig99
Jon Pearse1988Marconi Sailing ClubUna Rig1010
Nigel James2015Marconi Sailing ClubUna Rig1111
Jan Elfring2030Draycote Water Sailing ClubUna Rig1212