Gurnard Sailing Club, Isle of Wight and the Dart 15 Class Association
1st, 2nd and 3rd July 2005
Thirty nine boats from ten different sailing clubs around the country entered the Sprint 15 Sport (formerly dart 15 Sprint) National Championships hosted by Gurnard Sailing Club over the weekend of 1st - 3rd July 2005. Two races per day were scheduled with the races held back to back to allow the visitors to view the further delights of the Island especially as some had travelled from as far as Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall.
The first two races were held on Friday afternoon in typical July weather of overcast skies and the threat of rain, with a south westerly breeze of between 12 and 14 knots. Principal race officer Steve Cole set a typical Gurnard course for the first race with a beat against the tide followed by two exciting reaches across the solent with an upwind downwind leg thrown in for good measure. Defending champion George Carter demonstrated his intentions by leading from start to finish pursued by locals Robin Leather, Laurie Gustar and Ed Low, G Carter and Leather were always a step ahead of the others to finish in that order with Gustar and Low swapping places on the last lap, Shanklin sailor Erling Holmberg climbed five places in the second leg to finish fifth. Race two saw a windward/leeward course set and with more demand on tactics saw a much closer race throughout the fleet. Leather demonstrated that there was a definite challenge this year by winning race two from G Carter and Steve Sawford was getting into his groove by finishing third with Gustar fourth and the youngest in the fleet Tom Gall in fifth.
Saturday morning dawned much the same as Friday with slight rain but a perfectly acceptable breeze of around 12 knots from the south west. With the tide running in the opposite direction to the previous day only Gustar had the nerve to try the port end start with the rest of the fleet on starboard at the pin end, he crossed all but could only record a third with Leather in his now accustomed second place and G Garter recording his second win, Brian Phipps in the new Sprint Livery boat held fourth place in front of a tussle between Low, Blenkinsop and Bob Carter. Race four saw another windward/leeward course set and again G Carter lead from the front with Leather pursuing ahead of a pack that included T Gall, Sawford and local Dave Downer, with the breeze increasing throughout the race the heavyweights including Paul Tanner and Paul Airey were closing fast, at the finish the experience of Blenkinsop and Sawford pushed Downer back to seventh with Tanner and Airey close behind.
On Saturday evening the Gurnard ladies did everyone proud with a superb meal and there was plenty of time for heroes half hour along with Paul Tanner explaining just how he managed to straddle the 6' windward mark.
The final two races were sailed on Sunday morning with sunshine and a breeze varying between south westerly and westerly of around 10 knots. With an hours less ebb there was a bunch at the pin end and the first general recall of the weekend, the re-start was good and once more G Carter led the fleet round with Gustar and Leather vying for second place with the latter coming out on top, Low put enough boats between himself and Blenkinsop to make the last race interesting and B Carter recorded his highest finish of the series so far with a seventh, Shanklin sailor Keith Newnham found the lighter conditions more to his taste to record a tenth. With the title safely locked away G Carter looked to be taking it easy around the course during the last race, a simple upwind/downwind resulted in a win for Gustar who lead from start to finish, Leather recorded yet another second with R Carter third and Blenkinsop putting enough boats between him and Low to secure fifth overall. T Gall had a very good fifth to move him up to ninth overall.
With a full series of racing completed G Carter was again crowned national champion with locals Leather and Gustar second and third; Phipps showed the new boat will be competitive by coming fourth. Overall an excellent weekend with the sport section of the fleets already looking forward to next year's nationals at Instow.
Steve Cole. Photos (c) Paul Wyeth
1st Lady: Catherine Leather (Gurnard)
1st over 60: George Stephen (Queen Mary)
1st over 50: Bob Carter (Grafham)
Pro-Am: George Love & Carl Blenkinsop
Heavyweight: Erling Holmberg
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