Sprint National Championships, Instow, 4-6 May 2002

North Devon Yacht Club hosted the Dart 15 Sprint National championships at Instow in weather which was bright and sunny with not much wind on Saturday which increased to force 3-4 on Sunday and a 4-5 on Monday. This weather provided conditions for a brilliant weekend of racing. There were 46 helms, a record turnout for the Sprint Nationals, 21 of the helms were from the host club.

The first race on Saturday was postponed for 20 mins until the sea breeze appeared. The Race Officer John Garland set an Olympic course with a heavily starboard biased line. First to the windward mark was George Carter followed by father Bob Carter, the following group of Laurie Gustar, Steve Sawford and Ray Gall were held up when local helm Gordon Smith barged in at the mark leaving the two leaders 100 yards ahead. Gustar broke away from the following group to finish 3rd behind the two Carters. George Carter was 1st with Bob Carter 2nd, Steve Sawford was 4th with local helms Tony Pratt and Joe Armstrong were 4th and 5th.

The breeze had freshened a little for the second race. Local helm, Gordon Smith, was the only port tack starter and he crossed the starboard pack just behind the leaders Alan Welman and Ed Low. By the windward mark Low was clear ahead of G Smith, R Carter and Nick Dewhirst. On the 2nd beat Gustar followed Smith to the North Shore and picked up 5 places to follow Smith on the run with Ed Low in 3rd place. The leading group grounded briefly on Sprat Ridge allowing Gustar to take the lead. By the next beat the boats of Robin Leather, G Carter and Dewhirst made gains to challenge the leading boats. At the finish the order was Gustar, Smith, G Carter, Leather, Low and George Stephen. The fleet then retired for the day with a BBQ in the sunset at the North Devon Yacht Club.

On Sunday the wind had filled in to a force 3 northerly and the course was moved further out into the Estuary. The 3rd race was started with a port biased line and the fleet split into two with half opting for the Skern Bay side and the other half going up North shore. The North shore group were first to the windward mark with G Carter leading from George Stephen, Colin Price and R Carter. As the race developed the Gurnard group of Gustar, Leather and Carl Blenkinsop moved up through the fleet by pinching on the North shore where the water was flat and favourable wind had developed. At the finish the order was G Carter, Gustar, Leather, with Blenkinsop and Stephen 4th and 5th.

The 4th race again had a port biased line and a small group of boats crossed the fleet on port and took the north shore route to the windward mark. At the windward mark it was the Grafham trio of the Carters and Steve Sawford closely followed by Leather, Gustar and Smith. The race continued until Black Rock was breaking through the surface causing the lead boat to gybe suddenly to avoid it. The order at the finish was G Carter, Gustar, Leather followed by Sawford and R Carter with local helms Smith and Mike Palmer-Head just astern. A Sprint class dinner followed in NDYC when 51 was raised for RNLI by fines for helms misdemeanours both on and off the water.

The fifth and final race was held on Monday. The wind had moved to the east and was a good force 4. Race Officer John Garland set a big course with a beat up the river Taw and the wing mark was a long reach away in Skern bay. First to the windward mark was Gustar, followed by Sawford, R Carter and Smith. The reach to the wing mark was over the shallows and the fleet followed local helm Gordon Smith to avoid Black Rock. The clunk of Smith's rudders on the rock could be clearly heard!! On the 2nd leg G Carter caught up to 3rd place. On the run to the last mark the fleet split to each side of the estuary. Much place swapping took place and Sawford took the gun from Gustar and G Carter with only 10 secs between them.

Joe Armstrong, NDYC.

Overall Results
1st G. Carter Grafham 6 pts (1,1,1,3)
2nd L. Gustar Gurnard 7 pts (1,2,2,2)
3rd R. Leather Gurnard 14 pts (3,3,4,4)
4th S. Sawford Grafham 18 pts (1,4,4,9)
5th R. Carter Grafham 18 pts (2,5,5,6)
6th G. Smith NDYC 27 pts (2,6,7,12)

Click here to view the full results.

First Heavyweight: Paul Airey (Gurnard).
First Lady Helm: Annette Maddison (NDYC).
First Under 18: Billy Stephens (NDYC).
ProAM: Roger Bone and Michelle Fisher (Gurnard).
Team Prize: Grafham.