Storm Brian caused the Grafham Cat Open to be cancelled but the Sprint 15 Inland Championships went ahead on Sunday 22 October by special arrangement with the Club. Many of the regulars did not make the trip in view of the forecast but about 15 attended and just 9 signed on and took part while the others chose to spectate. The wind was a force 5-6 Westerly (a bit better than the forecast) and race officer, Nigel Denchfield, set a trapezoidal course and ran 4 races back to back in rapid succession.
In race one David Ball led from start to finish. The race was a bit of a procession as not all the fleet had worked out the start sequence and missed making timely starts. During the first lap the fleet had to thread their way through a bunch of 12 University Fireflys who had chosen to do their team race training around the Sprint 15s mark 3. Happily they got the message and moved away for subsequent races. The race was finished after 2 laps with Thomas Sandal, Jenny Ball and Donald Sloan respectively following D Ball over the line.
The start for race 2 was more competitive and D Ball, J Ball and Chris Tillyer (team Marconi) contested the lead but once again by the windward mark it was D Ball who led the fleet around the 2 lap race with Tillyer (who had missed the first race due to a rigging failure) pushing D Ball all the way. Just at the last mark before the finish, Tillyer overtook D Ball and promptly buried his bow and stopped dead in front of Ball. D Ball had to bear away rapidly to avoid hitting Tillyer, capsized and drifted off to a DNF whilst Tillyer took the gun from J Ball, Kevin Cummerson and Sandal. It turned out that D Ball had broken his tiller conbar and had to head back to replace his conbar. Sloan also suffered a capsize during the race and retired with a broken rudder.
Race 3 followed quickly and just 5 boats started due to gear failures and retirements and J Ball was first to the windward mark followed by Sandal and Tillyer. The wind was strongest near the tree line on the shore when taking the left side of the course and some were tempted to avoid it and look for a favourable shift in the centre of the lake. By the second lap Tillyer was in the lead but Sandal was close and pushing hard. They approached the finish line in this order but Tillyer stalled his last tack 50 feet from the line and Sandal nipped in the take the gun from Tillyer, J Ball and Cummerson.
The fleet was back to 6 for race 4 as D Ball had returned with a borrowed conbar but sadly he had scored 2 DNFs as a result of his capsize and gear failure. Once race 4 started it was back to business as usual with D Ball leading the way from J Ball, Tillyer on the first beat. By the windward mark D Ball was chased by Team Grafham (Sandal and Cummerson). Tillyer capsized but was quick to recover. D Ball took the gun from Sandal, J Ball and Tillyer.
So the fleet had a good work out and Sandal took the Inland Championship with Tillyer the runner up.
Other places are listed below. Dave Ball was awarded the Chairman’s spot prize for avoiding hitting Chairman (Tillyer) and capsizing thus gifting the regatta to Thomas Sandal. Grafham was thanked for staging the event and Nigel Denchfield was thanked for good courses and slick race management. This is the second (of 3) Sprint 15 events which Nigel will run for the Sprint 15s in 2017.
This event concluded the Sprint 15 Summer Traveller series but the Winter Traveller series kicks off at Stewartby on 4 November.
Full Series Results available here