The Dart 15 annual racing calendar comprises 5 Winter TTs, 2 National Championships and 5 Summer TTs. This year’s summer events took place at Marconi, Rutland, North Devon, Carsington and Grafham.
Unsurprisingly, given the nature of our sport, the weather was a key feature of our Summer Series events again this year. Last year, prolonged drought meant the tide was well and truly out at some of our reservoir locations which impacted that latter end of our summer season.
Conversely, this year saw the summer series start with the wettest spring that many of us could remember with rain right through March, April and May. As such, although our first TT at Marconi was not until late April, there was a serious risk that visiting cars and trailers would need a tow out of the mud by one of the club’s friendly tractor drivers. Fortunately, with a bit of planning and careful parking, this was not required. But the weather did not deter competitors and there was a stellar entry of 33 boats including several taking part in a TT for the first time. Nigel and Fiona Denchfield kindly agreed to be Race Officers, the second of five events in 2023 where they supported the fleet. Conditions were sunny but light on the Saturday and wet, slightly less light and shifty on the Sunday – all against the backdrop of a spring tide. It was a closely fought event with Angus Cook (NDYC) in third, Jenny Ball (Marconi) in 2nd and Liam Thom (Shanklin) in 1st. Tom Phipps from Windsport provided event support and also shared some tips and feedback from the day’s racing after dinner on Saturday night.
The second Summer TT was held as part of the Rutland Cat Open on 20th and 21st May. Fourteen Dart 15s took part on a weekend of sunshine and brisk breeze albeit with a northerly chill to it and plenty of shifts to make racing challenging. Overarching memories of the weekend is that whichever way you went up the beat – left, middle or right – the other way always seemed to pay! After six closely fought races with lots of position changes throughout, Liam Thom took his second event win, with Steve Sawford (Rutland) taking second and Jason Clarke (Marconi) in third.
The fleet headed southwest to North Devon YC for the third Summer TT on the 10th / 11th June. This corner of the country had been basking in hot temperatures and sunshine for several weeks whilst the rest of the country had been subjected to a prolonged spell of cool easterly breezes. Twenty-two competitors took part in this TT which was also the Southern Championships. Saturday saw very light fickle winds caused by a sea breeze and prevailing wind cancelling each other out. Cue lots of holes across the course and a headache for the Race Management team and competitors alike. After two races, and with the ebb tide in full flow, the Race Officer called it a day. For day two, a gentle sea breeze mercifully appeared and the Race Officer did a great job of getting three races in. Racing was again closely fought particularly between Angus and Liam where it all came down to the final race. Although Jason won the final race, Liam did enough to take the overall win, with Angus in second and Jenny in third. With three wins in the bag, Liam was already the confirmed Summer Series winner.
The summer series paused in July for the National Championships at Thorpe Bay where two out of the three days were blown out but nevertheless a great regatta of five races was completed. A full report from that event is up on the Events page of our website. August saw a more typical British summer with mixed temperatures and plenty of wind and rain, particularly for those of us who took part in the World Championships of our big sister boat, the Dart 18, at Bridlington.
Despite the disappointing weather in July and August, autumn this year turned out to be stellar. For the fourth TT of the year and Northern Championships, fourteen competitors headed to Carsington in mid-September to be greeted by scorching hot temperatures and very light winds. Sadly, no sea breezes to be had here! It was so hot, competitors were going for a swim in between races to cool off. The light winds meant only two races sailed on Saturday but three more were completed on Sunday, which was a real achievement by the race management team. Two up David and John Ball (Marconi) really showed their form over the weekend but it was Jason who took the overall win, with David and John in second and Jenny in third.
Late September saw the Sport Nationals hosted by Shanklin SC on the Isle of Wight. Three days of every type of wind made for some interesting racing and a full report can be found on the Events page of our website.
The final Summer TT and Inland Championships took place at Grafham on 14th and 15th October. Following an unusually warm and sunny autumn, the weather switched overnight for this event, back to normal! But the weather was still sunny and the breezes were decent, if chilly, making for some excellent sailing. Nigel and Fiona again officiated their fifth and final Dart 15 event for this year. Four races were completed on Saturday and two on Sunday morning as there was a slight risk the wind might fall away by Sunday lunchtime. In fact, the wind held at a decent 15 to 20 knots, albeit with plenty of bends in it towards the windward end of the course. The event was dominated by Jason who nailed the start every time to take an impressive run of results, pursued by Mark Aldridge (Grafham) in second, with Jenny in third and David and John in fourth.
In total, fifty Dart 15 sailors took part in our Summer Series this year, representing twelve different sailing clubs. Of those competitors, fifteen took part in three or more events – the number required to qualify for overall ranking in the series.
And this year, a quartet of Marconi sailors completed all five events – Dave Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jon Pearse and Jenny Ball.
A massive thank you to our host clubs – Marconi, Rutland, North Devon, Carsington and Grafham – we could not run the series without the support of volunteers and staff at these locations and we are very grateful to them.
Thank you also to all our competitors for supporting our events. If you are new to travelling or maybe have not done an event in a while – why not come and join us? We are a friendly fleet and very happy to help out. We also have a useful guide on our website with information about what to expect at a TT and tips on taking part: https://dart15.co.uk/events/guide.php
Next up is our Winter Series – five one day events with three races back to back. All the info is on our Events Page. And we will shortly be confirming our dates for next summer too.
Summer Series Overall Positions:
1st – Liam Thom, Shanklin - and Southern Champion
Team Trophy – Marconi SC
Final Results Summary:
Overall TT Series Top 5 Places: 1st Liam Thom (Shanklin Sailing Club) 3 Pts , 2nd Jason Clarke (Marconi Sailing Club) 5 Pts, 3rd Jenny Ball (Marconi Sailing Club) 8 Pts, 4th Angus Cook (North Devon Yacht Club) 10 Pts, 5th David Ball (Marconi Sailing Club) 11 Pts
Una and Two-Up Fleet Top 3 Places: 1st Liam Thom (Shanklin Sailing Club) 3 Pts, 2nd Jason Clarke (Marconi Sailing Club) 5 Pts, 3rd Jenny Ball (Marconi Sailing Club) 8 Pts
Sport Fleet Top 3 Places: 1st Jes Firth (North Devon Yacht Club) 23 Pts, 2nd Ian Mounce (North Devon Yacht Club) 24 Pts, 3rd Keith Heason (North Devon Yacht Club) 25 Pts
Southern Champion: Liam Thom (Shanklin Sailing Club)
Northern Champion: Jason Clarke (Marconi Sailing Club)
Inland Champion: Jason Clarke (Marconi Sailing Club)
Full Series Results are available here
Total Number of Individual Competitors who attended at least one event: 50