National Championships, Pwllheli, North Wales 18-20 Aug 2005

The Sprint 15 National Championships were held at Pwllheli Sailing Club on 18-20 Aug and the entry was 34 boats, which was somewhat disappointing as the venue and weather were some of the best we have had at a championship. All of the 7 races were completed and 6 took part in F3-4 NW (offshore) winds, which gave the slam-bam conditions that the fleet enjoy so much.

After a practice lap on the Thursday two races were sailed back to back after lunch. PRO, Richard Tate, set a square course in a fickle 2-3mph breeze for the first race. First to the windward mark was George Carter followed by Paul Smith, Idris Dibble and Geoff Howlett. As the race progressd the wind swung 45 degrees to the South making the reach a run, etc. The race team decided to terminate the race after a lap to set a better course in the better breeze, which was expected as the skies blackened. Smith took the gun from G Carter and Howlett and Dibble. A slight squall passed through in the gap between races which gave the fleet a chance to charge about relieving any frustration with their performance in the first race. The breeze stabilized to a NW force 3 which enabled a course to be set which remained true for the second race. Charles Watson led the charge from the port end on the line followed by Bob Carter and Steve Hanby. On the first lap G Carter took the lead from R Carter & Hanby but by the gun the sequence was G Carter, Hanby, R Carter and Paul Smith. In the evening the fleet retired for a barbeque and the AGM which involved updating the rules to adopt the new names of Sprint 15 and Sprint 15 Sport (see elsewhere for a full report).

On Friday morning a large rectangular course was set for races 3 & 4 in a F3-4 NW breeze and overcast skies. In race 3, G Carter led from start to finish followed by Hanby. Frank Sandells held 3rd place for the first lap but fell back as the race progressed. At the gun the sequence was G Carter, Hanby, R Carter, Chris Black and Gordon Goldstone - who was sailing well after a bad first day. Race 4 followed and Charles Watson tore into an early lead but was overhauled by G Carter on the first lap to reclaim his customary position. Down the fleet the racing was very exciting - the long beat was a test of physical endurance, the reaches were exhilarating and the runs very tactical with those able to maximize the benefits of surfing down the waves making big gains. The finishing sequence for race 4 was G Carter, Watson, Hanby, Black and Class Chairman, Nick Dewhirst, who was relearning how to sail the boat after a long lay off. During the lunch break Richard Tate, Bob Sambrook and the race team took the opportunity to change the course for race 5 to the inverse "P" course with a two mark leeward gate which made a pleasant change after 4 rectangular courses. Race 5 was fairly processional with the finishing sequence G Carter, Hanby, R Carter, Steve Sawford and P Smith.

On Friday evening it was the Class Association dinner at the George IV Hotel Criccieth where 60 revellers enjoyed dinner and drinks mostly without the need to drive! The local train service runs from Pwllheli to Criccieth and could even be flagged down at the Abererch campsite where many of our members were staying. Team Shanklin took to the dance floor in numbers and won 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for dancing in the IoW "catwalk" style unfamiliar to those from the mainland. Great fun was had by all (sadly some had to leave early as the last train was 10.56pm).

On Saturday the Sun that we had enjoyed for most of the week returned but happily the F3 plus wind held to give glorious sailing conditions once again using the inverse "P" course. In race 6, G Carter hit the pin mark at the start, which allowed Hanby, Black, Goldstone and Sawford get away. Over the next 2 laps G Carter gradually wound-in the fleet sailing low and fast but Hanby hung on for his first gun of the weekend – followed by G Carter, Black, R Carter, Sawford and Goldstone. Places changed wholesale on the last beat to the finish line when a few chancers took the previously unfavoured side, to approach the line on port tack. Further back in the fleet the 4 two-up boats were involved in their own competion for the coveted Two-up Trophy. Steve and David Littlejohns notched up a credible 12th place in race 6 to extend their lead over Norman and Matt Grum. In the last race R Carter crossed the fleet on port on a heavily port biased line but once again it was G Carter in the lead from R Carter and Hanby by the windward mark. This race was characterized by big wind swings and gusts and on the second beat the middle fleet spotted a big benefit of taking the RHS (port tack) on the beat after the leaders had gone off on starboard. This served to change the sequence significantly and Chris Black and Charles Watson climbed to creditable second and third places ahead of Hanby as a result.

Thus after a fantastic series of races George Carter retained his National Championship crown (with 2,1,1,1,1,2,1 places) from Steve Hanby, Bob Carter and Chris Black and the fleet returned home tired but happy (but bemused that more of our members had not taken part). The full results are as follows:

Overall Results
1st G. Carter Grafham 5pts
2nd S. Hanby Beaver 10pts
3rd R. Carter Grafham 20pts
4th C. Black Grafham 21pts
5th C. Watson Halifax 22pts
6th P. Smith Beaver 26pts

Click here for the full results table.

Race winners: Race 1 - Paul Smith, Race 2/3/4/5/7 - George Carter, Race 6 - Steve Hanby

Two-up: 1st S & D Littlejohns (Swanage), 2nd N & M Grum (Carsington), 3rd S & C Pierce (Shanklin)

Youth Trophy: 1st D Littlejohns

Over 50s: 1st S Hanby (Beaver), 2nd R Carter (Grafham), 3rd C Black

Over 60s: 1st C Black (Grafham), 2nd G Stephen (Queen Mary), 3rd J Shenton (Shanklin)

Heavyweights: 1st C Black (Grafham), 2nd E Holmberg (Shanklin), 3rd P Tanner (Shanklin)

Most Improved: 1st T Bulmer-Jones (Netley), 2nd F Sandells (Grafham), 3rd K Chidwick (Queen Mary)

Teams Standings: 1st Grafham (46pts), 2nd Beaver (86pts), 3rd Shanklin (158pts), 4th Queen Mary (237pts)

Pro-Am Winners: S Sawford & N Dewhirst

Fun Prizes
Go-Carting: 1st William Baker (Shanklin), 2nd David Littlejohns (Swanage), 3rd Steve Littlejohns (Swanage)
Loudest competitor - Erling Holberg
Best Dancers - Shanklin Sailing Club
Most Embarassing Parent - Stuart Pierce
Most Capsizes - Bob Rowntree
Best Near Capsize - Steve Roberts