Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy: Nationals
Friday 7th - Sunday 9th June 2024

Dart 15 Nationals – Sponsored by Noble Marine Insurance

A stellar weekend of champagne sailing at the home of British Olympic sailing – the 2024 Dart 15 Nationals sponsored by Noble Marine insurance really were a weekend to remember!

Forty five competitors competed in nine races over three days, in winds ranging from 12 to 25 knots from remarkably consistent westerly direction.  The event attracted its usual wide range of competitors geographically from Scotland to the Isle of Wight and various places in between and the age range was from 12 years old to mid-seventies.  Of particular note were the 13 entries from Marconi Sailing Club on the Essex East Coast and a number of competitors competing in their first ever Nationals, including several who were very new to the class.

Following a competitor briefing with Race Officer Bryan Drake, the fleet headed out on Friday afternoon for the first three races in the stiffest breezes of the weekend.

Race 1 got away cleanly and on time.  In a consistent theme for the weekend, the pin end was favoured by the front runners and riders and the fleet blasted off the line and headed off up the beat.  Sean McKenna, (Shanklin) was sailing his brand new boat delivered that weekend by Tom Phipps of Windsport.  Sean took an early lead chased hard by Mark Aldridge (Grafham), Liam Thom (Shanklin), Hector Buncark (North Devon) and Jason Clarke (Marconi).   The square course provided a cracking reach from mark 1 to 2, followed by a very tactical downwind leg to mark 3, followed by another cracking reach and a short beat back through the line from mark 4.  Sean went on to take the win followed by Liam, Hector, Mark, Jason and Jenny Ball (Marconi) who had pulled her way up through the fleet on the downwind leg.

The breeze continued to build as forecast for Race 2 with the gusts regularly over 20 knots and waves building too.  Sean and Hector chose to start nearer the Committee Boat but the pin end proved to be the better bet.  David and John Ball (Marconi), our only two up entry this year, held out to the left and came in to the windward mark with a convincing lead, chased hard by Jason, Jon Pearse (Marconi), Liam, and Steve Sawford (Rutland).   Jason managed to get in front of David and John on the downwind leg but they regained their lead on the second upwind leg and went on to take the win, with a Marconi podium of Jason and Jon, followed by Liam, Jenny and Steve.

Another superbly quick turnaround by the Race Management team got Race 3 underway promptly.  The waves were now quite pronounced and the breeze had continued to build.  Ideal conditions for some, a little more daunting for others and that, plus a few gear failures, resulted in a few competitors heading home for the day.  A well-executed start and picking a clear lane up the beat saw Liam reach the windward mark first and establish a race lead.  The pack behind chased hard, revelling in the lively conditions.  Liam went on to take the win, followed by Sean, Steve, Mark and Simon Giles (Shanklin).

A great day on the water with three different race winners and lots of mixing up in the top five placings.  Other stand out performances included Dave Rowe sailing the second oldest boat – Sail Number 378 (c. 1979) who got to the windward mark in the front pack on all three races.

The fleet then commenced the beat home from the far side of the harbour back to base - many opting to take it easy to conserve their boat and themselves for two more full days of racing.  In fact, one of our first time entrants, Martin Pickett (Marconi) turtled his boat in order to get a lift home on a RIB, which was a bit extreme.  David and Jenny were shipped out in a RIB to right it and Jenny got an extra sail back.  Both helm and boat were unscathed and ready to go again the following day.

In the evening, a short AGM was held to update members on the last 12 months of activities and an opportunity to thank the volunteer members of the Committee for managing all aspects of the Association.  This was followed by a very enjoyable dinner with much swapping of stories about the hectic afternoon of racing.

Saturday morning dawned with more sunshine than forecast and with a very decent breeze, slightly less full on than the day before.  The fleet headed out for four back to back races, following the same course as before.   Race 4 saw more boats pushing at the front of the line, resulting in the first individual recall of the event.   A few boats re-crossed the line (not all of them needed to) but unfortunately, Sean did not and was scored OCS for the race.    The fleet set off, mainly keeping to the left side of the course.  Unfortunately, a few boats overstood the layline mistaking Mark 2 for Mark 1 as the course was shorter than the day before.  At Mark 1, Liam had a clear lead followed by the bulk of the fleet who had sailed the right course.   Liam went on to take the win, followed by Hector, Simon, Jason and David and John Ball.  Angus Cook (Castaways) was showing a return to form in 6th place and Yvonne Pike (Shanklin) put in a stand out performance coming in 7th.

Another quick turnaround and Race 5 was underway – the Race Officer retaining the Blue Peter – charitably or optimistically, depending on your point of view.   The pin end was favoured and got a bit crowded, with Angus and Sean opting to loop round the end and sail back out on port.  Despite having to duck a few boats, this gave them early access to clear air and when they rejoined the fleet, they were still in the top of the pack.  The rest of the front of the fleet headed left and all were vigilant this time not to overstand the windward mark.  The leeward leg also presented opportunities and those who took the left hand line benefitted from slightly stronger breezes towards the latter part of the leg, coupled with coming into the mark on starboard.   Liam went on to take his third win, followed by Jason, Mark, Angus, Sean and Hector.

Race 6 followed a similar pattern, this time with a very closely fought battle between Mark and Liam at the front of the fleet.   Mark was able to take the lead on the upwind legs, but Liam successfully snuck in front on the downwind legs and went on to take another win, with Mark second and followed by Angus, Jason, Jenny and Steve.

The sunshine and champagne sailing conditions held out for the final race of the day.  In now familiar style, Liam took a clean lane from the front row of the start line and was first again to the windward mark pursued by the usual suspects.  The fleet were increasingly picking different lanes up the second beat, some opting to tack off to the right to get a clear lane without overstanding or under calling the layline back into the windward mark.  After various place changes behind him, Liam went on to take his fifth consecutive win, followed by Angus, Mark, Hector, Jason and Jenny.   Liam had secured his second National Championships title with still one more day of racing to go with an impressively consistent string of first places.  But for the remaining podium places and the top ten, it was still all to play for.

The fleet had a very enjoyable evening meal – the Class Association Dinner.  Ed, the Association Chair, did a short speech thanking everyone at WPNSA for their support of the event and especially welcomed a number of new members to the fleet – including Martin Pickett (Marconi), Kyle Tibbs (Marconi), Karen Corley (Marconi), Christophe Clarke (Marconi), Stephen Menhinick (Royal Tay), Thom Britten (NDYC) and Kevin Ellis (Shanklin).  The meal was rounded off with birthday cake and candles for our youngest competitor, John, who was celebrating his twelfth birthday.

Sunday produced more blue skies and sunshine and slightly less breeze, but with a forecast that it would return to same the 15 – 19 knots the fleet had enjoyed the previous afternoon.   The fleet set off across the harbour to the start line, watching the local All-weather Lifeboat practicing some training manoeuvres.

Race Eight got away on time with much closer bunching of the whole fleet on the start line – either as competitors were building on their experience and/or the slightly lighter conditions made close quarters starting less intimidating.  This time it was Jason who got the stronger start and came in to the windward mark first.  For this race, many more of the fleet chose to pick different paths up the windward legs – either heading off on to port fairly early after the start in search of clear air or about half way up the course or banging the far corner.  Probably causing slight consternation to the Castle Cove Sunday racing fleet out minding their own business and meeting Dart 15s at various points along at the eastern side of their course.  Jason led from start to finish, followed by Sean, Liam, Hector, Jenny and Steve.

As forecast, the wind had increased by the start of the second race and was back up to a decent F4 to 5. The fleet pushed the final start line even harder resulting in another individual recall but all exonerated themselves.  The pin end was again the favoured start and the front runners blasted off to the left for the final race.  This time it was Sean setting himself up to finish as he started, taking the lead at Mark 1 but with David and John hot on his heels and the rest of the pack very close behind.   The stronger winds gave David and John a better chance of defending their position on the downwind legs, with their increased pace offsetting the additional distance travelled at the higher angles.  Behind them, the now familiar roll call were doing battle choosing diverging paths on both the downwind and upwind legs. Sean went on to take the win followed in quick succession by David and John, Angus, Mark, Jason and Ed.

The fleet had a fantastic sail home and the final two races had resulted in plenty of changes to overall positions in the fleet.  The best regattas come down to the wire and, aside from the small matter of the National Champion, this regatta really delivered on that.

The prizegiving featured our usual wide range of prizes and glassware, sponsored by Noble Marine Insurance.   First up were the Individual Prizes awarded for individual instances of mishap or endeavour.  Lucky recipients received a book voucher from Fernhurst Books who publish a wide range of sailing publications to make us all better sailors.   Recipients were as follows:

Martin Pickett for successfully sailing all nine races, including the three lively ones on day one even though he did turtle his boat on the way home so he could get a lift back in a RIB.

Stephen Menhinick – new fleet member and first time Nationals – sailing the oldest boat Sail Number 287 and travelling all the way from Royal Tay.

Yvonne Pike for a stellar performance in Race 4 – blasting off the start and coming in 7th overall.

Karen Corley – newish to sailing, newish fleet member and first time Nationals who impressed everyone with her persistence across the weekend.  Although it was probably easier than the Southern Ocean leg of the Clipper Race that she completed two years ago.

Thom Britton – new to the fleet and one of our younger competitors who had some mixed fortunes in his racing but maintained positive enthusiasm throughout.

Nigel James – for instrumentally supporting a number of fellow Marconi sailors to complete their first National Championships.  Including sailing back round to the back of the fleet to provide moral support, causing some confusion to the safety boat crews.

Rob Wilson for capsizing on the final tack from Mark 4 to the finish line, causing some consternation to the fleet behind him who found an unexpected obstacle in their way once they hardened up round the final mark.

The annual Jim Bowie award was presented to Jim Bowie – this year for adding panels to the failing front and back plywood panels of his trailer box, but without noticing that the floor of the box was also decidedly “challenged” until he spotted various items hanging beneath it when he arrived at Weymouth.

The important silverware was then presented by Race Officer, Bryan Drake, as follows:

Erling Holmberg Youth Trophy – John Ball, Marconi

Young Gun Trophy (age 19 – 25) – Jason Clarke, Marconi

50 Plus Cup – Liam Thom, Shanklin

60 Plus Cup – Jon Pearse, Marconi

70 Plus Tankard – Jim Bowie, Thorpe Bay

Ladies Cup – Jenny Ball, Marconi

Heavyweight Cup – Jon Pearse, Marconi

Pro Am Trophy – Ed Tuite Dalton, Draycote – supported by his Pro, Scott Wilcox, Stewartby

Most Improved Wendy House Trophy – David and John Ball, Marconi

Most Persistent Paul Smith Trophy – Kyle Tibbs, Marconi


The final prizes and rankings then followed:

12th Place – Ed Tuite-Dalton, Draycote

11th Place – Jon Pearse, Marconi

10th Place – Simon Giles, Shanklin

9th Place – Steve Sawford, Rutland

8th Place – Jenny Ball, Marconi

7th Place – David and John Ball, Marconi and winner of Race 2

6th Place – Angus Cook, Castaways

5th Place – Hector Bunclark, North Devon YC

4th Place – Mark Aldridge, Grafham Water

3rd Place – Sean McKenna, Shanklin and winner of Races 1 and 9

2nd Place – Jason Clarke, Marconi and winner of Race 8

Two Up Cup – David and John Ball, Marconi

National Champion – Liam Thom, Shanklin and winner of Races 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7

Our thanks go to all the staff at WPNSA, to Bryan Drake and all the volunteers on the Race Management and Safety teams who did such a fantastic job setting great courses, managing race times to perfection and keeping everyone safe.   Thanks also to Noble Marine Insurance for sponsoring our event and providing very popular baseball caps.  Thanks also to Dave Clarke for producing our event rugby shirts and to Pauline and George Love for all the great photos.  And finally, thank you to all the competitors who travelled far and wide to make our 2024 National Championships such a great event.

Jenny Ball

Events Secretary, Dart 15 Association.

Pictures by Pauline Love


Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions

Competitors Races - 9 of 9 Sailed (No. of Discards: 2) Event Placings
Name Sail ClubRace 1Race 2Race 3Race 4Race 5Race 6Race 7Race 8Race 9Points Place
Liam Thom2034Shanklin Sailing Club2 4 1 1 1 1 1 3 9 101
Jason Clarke2037Marconi Sailing Club5 2 6 4 2 4 5 1 5 232
Sean McKenna2038Shanklin Sailing Club1 9 2 44 OCS5 6 7 2 1 243
Mark Aldridge66Grafham Water Sailing Club4 10 4 8 3 2 3 7 4 274
Hector Bunclark1951North Devon Yacht Club3 7 7 2 6 10 4 4 7 335
Angus Cook2036RYA9 11 9 6 4 3 2 8 3 356
David Ball & John Ball1923Marconi Sailing Club11 1 8 5 7 9 14 15 2 437
Jenny Ball2025Marconi Sailing Club6 5 11 10 9 5 6 5 10 468
Steve Sawford2033Rutland Water Sailing Club7 6 3 9 15 8 9 6 8 479
Simon Giles2029Shanklin Sailing Club8 12 5 3 8 7 8 10 11 4910
Jon Pearse2035Marconi Sailing Club10 3 10 14 14 15 20 25 15 8111
Ed Tuite Dalton2023Draycote Water Sailing Club16 15 45 DNF12 13 12 24 9 6 8312
Jim Bowie2021Thorpe Bay Yacht Club12 17 13 18 11 13 16 12 20 9413
Gary Sverdloff1963Thorpe Bay Yacht Club13 22 17 15 12 21 11 18 14 10014
Daren Fitchew1954Thorpe Bay Yacht Club18 14 15 19 18 18 12 16 12 10515
Rob Bailey1977Thorpe Bay Yacht Club17 16 20 11 10 17 25 17 19 10716
Jan Elfring2030Draycote Water Sailing Club14 8 14 26 25 25 18 26 16 12017
Keith Persin1981Thorpe Bay Yacht Club20 19 18 17 16 34 33 13 21 12418
Jacob Aldridge1962Grafham Water Sailing Club24 13 12 29 36 16 13 37 18 12519
Scott Wilcox1359Stewartby Water Sports Club19 18 24 27 21 35 23 11 13 12920
George Love2019Carsington Sailing Club30 28 45 DNF13 20 24 21 19 24 14921
Yvonne Pike1965Shanklin Sailing Club26 30 45 DNF7 19 27 22 22 27 15022
Richard Chidwick2004North Devon Yacht Club33 29 22 16 27 26 15 24 23 15323
Robert Wilson1966Stone Sailing Club21 25 21 34 24 19 36 27 26 16324
Christophe Clarke1988Marconi Sailing Club23 35 45 DNF35 26 20 19 20 22 16525
Donald Sloan1896Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club27 23 19 25 30 14 28 30 31 16626
Gerald Sverdloff1333Thorpe Bay Yacht Club28 45 DNF45 DNF22 23 28 17 21 30 16927
Jeremy Franklin12023Draycote Water Sailing Club22 24 16 31 31 22 26 33 29 17028
David Rowe378Draycote Water Sailing Club15 20 23 36 22 46 DNC27 32 45 DNF17529
Andrew Heath1893North Devon Yacht Club38 45 DNS27 21 17 23 46 DNC23 33 18230
Stuart Snell2022Grafham Water Sailing Club46 DNC46 DNC46 DNC46 DNC46 DNC11 10 14 17 19031
Dave Clarke1521Marconi Sailing Club25 21 26 23 35 36 31 36 32 19332
Andy Bunyan1899Stewartby Water Sports Club36 27 28 28 34 31 32 34 25 20533
Ray Gall2028Carsington Sailing Club31 26 25 32 37 33 37 31 28 20634
Jemma Clarke1917Marconi Sailing Club35 31 29 37 38 29 29 29 34 21635
Stephen Menhinick287Royal Tay Yacht Club37 33 30 20 33 37 30 46 DNC46 DNC22036
Keith Chidwick2016Datchet Sailing Club34 32 45 DNF33 28 30 34 35 35 22637
Nigel James12015Marconi Sailing Club43 40 35 30 29 32 38 41 40 24438
Peter Richardson1983Marconi Sailing Club29 45 DNF45 DNF24 32 39 46 DNC38 39 24639
Kevin Ellis1944Shanklin Sailing Club39 34 32 39 39 40 35 39 37 25540
Lee Garton1759Marconi Sailing Club40 37 31 38 40 41 39 40 36 26141
Kyle Tibbs2015Marconi Sailing Club41 38 33 40 41 38 40 42 38 26842
Thom Britton1545North Devon Yacht Club32 36 45 DNF46 DNC46 DNC46 DNC46 DNC28 45 DNF27843
Martin Pickett1771Marconi Sailing Club42 39 34 41 43 42 41 43 41 28044
Karen Corley1155Marconi Sailing Club44 41 45 DNF42 42 43 42 44 42 29645