On Sunday 22 March the final event of the Sprint 15 fleet winter series was held at Grafham. 14 visitors joined 12 sailors from the home club on a bright day with a fresh force 4-5 North Westerly breeze.
The race officer, Alisdair James, set a large trapezoidal course with tight reaches – just what the fleet like. The line had a port bias and at the start of the first race it was Chris Black in pole position from Ed Tuite Dalton at the pin end. On the beat Mark Aldridge quickly established a lead from Tuite Dalton, Stuart Snell and Ray Gall. Peter Slater, however, decided to test the water with the first capsize of the day. There was a big fleet of Club Flying Fifteens and Lasers also sailing and at the end of the first lap both the Flying Fifteens and the Sprint 15s converged on the gate just as the Lasers were trying to restart, owing to having had to return on a general recall. The race progressed with the leading pack extending their lead. The wind was swinging some 30 degrees but it seemed like the right hand side of the course paid big dividends overall. Kevin Dutch was giving the experimental DX sails an outing and was visibly fast downwind but tended to lose out on the upwind legs. Meanwhile at the front, Aldridge and Tuite Dalton kept ahead of the pack to win from Snell, Erling Holmberg, Black and Steve Sawford, who had made steady progress through the race.
By the time of the afternoon race the wind had increased to the top end of a force 5. The race team had wisely changed the length of the Flying Fifteen course to prevent them coming round to a cross over point with the Sprint 15 course at the same time. At the start it was once again Chris Black in pole position from Peter Slater at the pin end. Mark Aldridge had tried to take a port flyer but was cut out by Black and had to duck about 15 of the fleet before he could start. By the windward mark however, Aldridge and Simon Farthing had a huge lead from the rest of the fleet. This was achieved by taking the favourable right side of the course while most of the fleet had gone left. These two were followed by Gordon Goldstone, David Casale and Richard Philpott, who were all determined to improve their performance over the morning race. As the race continued Stuart Snell worked his way up to third place but could make no impression on Aldridge and Farthing. After some 70minutes of racing Dutch (with the experimental DX sail) just managed to get a few seconds in front of Aldridge but on handicap it was Aldridge who took his second gun of the day a few feet ahead of Farthing and followed at some distance by Snell, Casale, Holmberg, Philpott and Tuite- Dalton.
Thus after an exhilarating day sailing, Aldridge was the convincing winner from Snell, Tuite Dalton and Holmberg. Everyone enjoyed the sailing in superb conditions and agreed that it was Grafham at it’s best.
The fleet now rest for a short period until the Summer Traveller Series gets under way at Seasalter on 25/26 April.
Full race results can be found here
Full Series Results available here