Dart 15 Nationals 2001 Pentewan, Cornwall 25-31 August

The Dart 15 National Championships were held at Pentewan Sands Sailing Club in the week of 26-31 August. The class returned to the traditional format at the favourite venue with 3 days of racing followed by 3 days of fun after 2 years of running 3 day weekend events. There were 53 entries and proceedings got under way with a short practice race on Sunday Morning, but unfortunately the wind died and the race had to be abandoned. There followed a series of postponements until the wind picked up and the first championship race got underway shortly after 4pm. Defending champion, George Carter, wasted no time establishing a big lead and was first to the windward mark. Incredibly the next 6 boats to the windwark mark were also from the Beaver Sailing Club! Big gains were to be made by taking the starboard side of the course on the beat and also on the run when avoiding the start line. Past champion, John Postlethwaite, made good use of these to catch back to 6th after an indifferent start. Steve Sawford 5th and Laurie Gustar 7th did a little to break up the Beaver 'boys' but the top 4 places were 'Beavers' G Carter, Paul Smith, D Burkhill and Steve Hanby respectively. It was 6pm before the second race got underway but the wind had now filled to a pleasant force 3-4 North Easterly and Martin Cocks wisely decided to get another race in and catch back on the schedule. At the windward mark it was G Carter, followed by Bob Carter, Chris Black and Steve Hanby. Hanby and Black took the favoured side on the second beat and got up to 2nd and 3rd which was the prevailing order until Postlethwaite made big gains on the short beat to the line. The finishing sequence was G Carter, Hanby, Postlethwaite, Black, R Carter and Smith.

On day two the trapezoidal course was selected and race 3 got underway on time in a pleasant force 2 - 3 NE breeze. The fleet split with 10 boats going out to sea on port tack and the balance taking the starboard option along the shore line. The wind was dropping progressively as the Sun took hold and it became obvious that the port tackers lead by "old timer", Jim Jeffery, were at a big advantage as the wind died quicker on the shore side. "Not bad for an old codger" yelled Jim as he rounded the windward mark first. The wind continue to drop and the race had to be shortened to one lap. The finishing sequence was Jeffery, Laurie Gustar, Nick Dewhirst, Tony Drake, Geoff Howlett and Paul Berry. Newcomer to the Dart 15 circuit, Mark Rushton was grinning from ear to ear with his eighth place. The two-up boats did surprisingly well in such light conditions with Steve and David Littlejohns 14th, Henry and Oliver Clark 15th and Eric and Kathleen Sales 19th. Unfortunately, that terminated the sailing for the day as the wind gave way to the Bank Holiday sun and the fleet was consigned to sunbathing and beach games.

Day 3 started sunny with a brisk Easterly breeze and it was decided to do 3 races back-to-back with a trapezoidal course. The fourth race got underway in a force 3-4 breeze with most of the fleet opting for the starboard tack (shore side) of the course for the first beat. G Carter was first to the windward mark followed by the Gurnard pair of Robin Leather and Gustar. These three held these positions to the finish and the following places went to Postlethwaite, R Carter and Dewhirst. Race five followed quickly with the breeze holding to the delight of all. Once again it was G Carter leading the way. Most of the scrapping for positions was happening for the minor places below fifth. The sailing was exhilarating as a big swell had developed and surfing down the waves on the run was enjoyed by all. G Carter lead Gustar over the line followed by Burkhill, Postlethwaite and Black. Incredibly, the final race was a carbon copy of race 5 with the first 5 places an exact replica. Thus the fleet returned to shore happy after an exhilarating 3 races in 4 hours.

Thus in the final analysis G Carter dominated the event with 5 firsts to retain his title for the sixth time. Gustar of the Gurnard sprint fleet showed he could sail as well without the jib and took the runners up place, beating 4 times previous champion, Postlethwaite into third place. The two-up division was stronger than it has been for years with 8 entries. Steve and David Littlejohn (10year old) won the two-ups (and were 11th overall) from Henry and Oliver Clark. Katherine Jones was the winning lady and the youngest helm was Catherine Tusting crewed by Sarah Margetson who are both 15. The oldest competitor was Charles Simkin (70) who recently bought his Dart 15 for a new hobby. Beaver Sailing Club won the team championship.

After the serious racing was over the rest of the week was devoted to fun events including a coach trip to the Eden Project, a sail along the coast to Polkeris, a crews race, a trip on the Fal River boat, a fleet dinner and other such light hearted entertainment. Overall the championships were judged a great success a good time was had by both sailors and their families alike.

Full Results table here

Overall Results
1st G Carter Beaver 5 pts
2nd L Gustar Gurnard 16 pts
3rd J Postlethwaite Beaver 23 pts
4th D Burkhill Beaver 24 pts
5th R Leather Gurnard 28 pts
6th N Dewhirst Whitstable 36 pts

1st K Jones Gurnard
2nd C Tusting & S Margetson Grafham
3rd M Fisher Gurnard

1st S & D Littlejohns Swanage
2nd H & O Clark Swanage
3rd E & K Sales Seasalter

Over 50s
1st L Gustar Gurnard
2nd N Dewhirst Whitstable
3rd C Black Grafham

Over 60s
1st C Black Grafham
2nd B Hoggard Beaver
3rd C Simkin Roadford

1st J Postlethwaite Beaver
2nd J Jeffery Sandwich Bay
3rd P Berry Stewartby

Most Improved
1st N Dewhirst Whitstable
2nd M Aldridge Grafham
3rd G Howlett Shanklin

Teams Standings: 1st Beaver, 2nd Grafham, 3rd East Kent, 4th Gurnard

Pro-Am Winners: P Berry + R Leather.