The Dart 15 Nationals 25th Anniversary Championships were re-run at Grafham Water Sailing Club on the weekend of 18/19 October after we failed to get 4 championship races at Pentewan Sand Sailing Club in August due to strong onshore winds. The Grafham Club had kindly agreed to put a separate weekend aside to restage this championship as the Dart 15 is one of the biggest classes at the Club.
There were 63 entries and 24 came from Grafham. This does not match the record 86 entries at Pentewan but never the less means that the Dart 15s have staged 3 of the 4 biggest catamaran National Championships in the UK during 2003 (Dart 15 at Pentewan, 86; Dart 18 at Netley, 70; Dart 15 rerun at Grafham, 63 & Dart 15 Sprints at Gurnard, 37).
All six races scheduled were completed and George Carter was the emphatic winner with 6 first places and therefore successfully defended his title for the sixth successive time. John Postlethwaite (4 times previous National Champion of the class) was runner up so these two sailors have dominated the class championship for the last decade.
Saturday was sunny with a force 2-3 North Easterly wind and Principal Race Officer, Mike St Paer, set a square course with tight reaches to the delight of the competitors. G Carter and Mark Aldridge were off to an early lead from the pin end of a port biased line in the first race. This pair led the way for 3 laps but then Stuart Snell and Paul Smith worked their way past Aldridge on the final lap to take second and third places behind G Carter. Peter Richardson was the first around the windward mark in race 2 followed by Steve Sawford and Matt Smith. After a lap or so G Carter had worked his way to the front where he remained to the gun but 15 year old Richard Hanby claimed second from Matt Smith and Richardson. The third race sequence was started back-to-back with race 2 but was postponed to adjust the line after a large wind swing caused the line to become starboard biased. This postponement turned out to be the downfall of 8 of the competitors, who set their watches to countdown from the AP sound signal rather than the warning signal and consequently started 1 minute early for the next race! At the real start G Carter was once again into an early lead followed by Carl Blenkinsop, Paul Smith and Laurie Gustar. As the race developed, however, Steve Hanby worked his way up to second place but Blenkinsop held on to defend third place from P Smith.
On Sunday the wind had gone more North and the strength had picked up to a force 3-4. It was elected to test the fleet on the inverse P course and an enormous line was set. A few chancers attempted to cross the fleet with a port tack start but no one was successful and ducking the starboard tack boats was the order of the day! At the windward mark the sequence was John Postlethwaite, Steve Hanby, G Carter and these three progressively opened up an enormous lead from the rest of the fleet and were not challenged, although Carter did once again work his way to the fore. In Race 5 the first to the windward mark were G Carter, R Hanby, Bob Carter and Erling Holmberg, who had found an advantage on the right hand side of the course. Richard Hanby held off father, Steve, to take second place and Postlethwaite recovered to get back to fourth ahead on Snell and R Carter. At lunch it turned out that there had been a number of incidents and some boat damage which had caused a number of retirements and a distinct lack of protests - the fleet must clearly sharpen it's rule knowledge and observance. The last race was sailed after a lunch stop in the strongest wind of the weekend and by now the heavy weather specialists were loving it. John Postlethwaite led the charge from R Hanby and G Carter. Mark Aldridge and Steve Sawford made big gains from mid fleet positions and took forth and fifth behind G Carter, Postlethwaite and R Hanby.
Thus after all six races G Carter was undefeated and the Beaver Trio of John Postlethwaite, Steve Hanby and Richard Hanby took the next 3 places (and the Team Trophy). Observers of the proceedings concluded that fifteen year old, Richard Hanby, must surely be the brightest prospect to become the next National Champion of the class.
The Class were happy to have completed the championship at the second attempt with such an exciting weekends sailing
|3rd||S Hanby||Beaver||21 pts|
|4th||R Hanby||Beaver||26 pts|
|5th||S Snell||Grafham||38 pts|
|6th||R Carter||Grafham||38 pts|
|7th||M Aldridge||Grafham||41 pts|
Ladies: 1st J Ball (Thirslet), 2nd A Rickards ( Shanklin), 3rd M Fisher(Gurnard).
Two-up: 1st K Harvey & C Collins (Beaver) , 2nd S & C Pierce (Shanklin), 3rd R & H Jones (Whitstable)
Junior Helm: R Hanby (Beaver)
Over 50s: 1st S Hanby (Beaver), 2nd S Snell (Grafham), 3rd R Carter (Grafham)
Over 60s: 1st C Black (Grafham)
Heavyweights: 1st M Aldridge (Grafham), 2nd C Black (Grafham), 3rd Simon Farthing (Grafham)
Most Improved: B Hoggard (Beaver)
Best result of a Sprinter: C Blenkinsop (Gurnard)
Pro-Am winners: S Hanby & F Sandells
Teams places: 1st Beaver 66pts, 2nd Grafham 81pts, 3rd Gurnard 232 pts, 4th Shanklin 265pts, 5th Carsington 466pts , 6th Whitstable 529 pts, 7th Stewartby 558 pts.
The Peter Mayne Award for services to the fleet: P Breeze (Calshot) - fleet cartoonist.