Queen Mary Winter Handicap Sunday 16 February 2003

On Sunday February 16th, the Dart 15 Association held the 4th of their one day Winter Series at Queen Mary Sailing Club. Despite a freezing cold day, 16 hardy competitors turned up for the event, from as far afield as Shanklin IOW in the South to Rutland and Beaver SC in the North.

For the dayís racing, race officer Neil Beaton set a square course on the eastern side of the reservoir. It would prove to be a tricky dayís sailing.

Just seconds before the start of the first race the wind suddenly dropped and shifted round, which caused the whole fleet to be 10 yards short of the line at the gun. This was just a foretaste of the changeable conditions that would prevail throughout the day.

As the race got going, it was Stuart Snell who led the way around the first mark, closely pursued by Paul Craft, Gordon Goldstone and Paul Tanner. But by the end of the lap, Rutlandís Steve Sawford had caught up and passed everyone but Snell.

As the race progressed, the wind shifted continually and middle order places swapped backwards and forwards. Barry Hoggard and Paul Tanner lost early gains as they found themselves on the wrong side of the water at the wrong time. Goldstone entertained every one by doing a turn on the 2nd run as his boat suddenly gybed without warning and spun him round. Tim Benton and Stuart Pearce both from Shanklin and Ian Curd and Andy Chidwick, from Queen Mary all lost places as the windshifts caught them out.

At the finish, it was Snell who was some way clear from Sawford and Craft. With Phil Howden and Erling Holmberg just getting past Peter Lyton and Jonathan Perkins in the last, close fought 100 yards to the line.

In the conditions it was very difficult to set a start line and the 2nd race got under way from a very port biased line just as the wind picked up. This time it was Sawford who led Snell round the first mark with Paul Craft once again in 3rd spot. On the 2nd lap there was a big windshift, which cost the leaders dear. So much so, that by the next mark, George Stephen and Jonathan Perkins were the new leaders. Alan Welman also made up many places and got past old rival, Gordon Goldstone. It was a day of frustrations for many as gains on one lap were often wiped out by a sudden change in the wind on the next.

Gradually, Snell and Sawford fought there way back to the front of the field and held on to the finish. George Stephen took 3rd from Jonathan Perkins, Howden was 5th and Paul Craft came in 6th.

Overall, Stuart Snell deservedly took the win with 2 excellent 1st place results. Steve Sawford the runner-up in each race took 2nd, Paul Craft showed off his new boat to good effect with 3rd place and Phil Howden took 4th. George Stephen was top home sailor in 5th and Jonathan Perkins a very good 6th place.

Gordon Goldstone, Queen Mary SC.

Overall Results
1st Stuart Snell Grafham
2nd Steve Sawford Rutland
3rd Paul Craft Open Dinghy
4th Philip Howden Grafham
5th George Stephen Queen Mary
6th Jonathan Perkins Grafham

For the full results click here for the series table