The Chris Black Sprint 15 Icicle Winter Event at Grafham
The Grafham Sprint 15 Icicle traveller event was run on 25 March in a light North Easterly breeze. The event comprised of 3 races (for the first time) and was run as the first start of club racing.
In the first race new Class Chairman, Ed Tuite Dalton, started late on port at the pin end and persisted on port to sail the opposite corner to the rest of the fleet. This tactic paid dividends and he had a decent lead when he rounded the windward mark. The wind was very patchy and there were times when there was little. Stuart Snell took the lead on the second beat by working up the middle of the course avoiding the holes in the wind. The second lap was quite slow in the dropping wind so the race was shortened to 2 laps. At the gun Snell won from Tuite Dalton and Steve Sawford.
The second race was sailed back-to-back with the first and once again the fleet sailed off to the left of the course on starboard except for, this time Gordon Goldstone, who was inspired by Tuite Dalton in the first race and proceeded to the extreme RHS corner on port, never to be seen again. Sawford was first to round the windward mark from Snell, Tuite Dalton and new young member Rhys Atkins, who was enjoying his first event. The pack closed up on the run but Sawford kept the lead until the second beat when the fleet sailed into a hole which encompassed the fleet for about 20 minutes. Atkins crept up to 3rd place for a short while but it was Snell and Sawford who made it round the mark a long way ahead of the fleet. These two maintained that order to the gun and finished half a lap ahead of the next 2 finishers who were George Love and Tuite Dalton.
There followed a lunch break and the fleet were contemplating if the third race would be possible whilst looking out onto a flat calm and stationary windmills. Race officer, Phil Bevan, was undaunted and headed out to run the third race. By the time of the start there was a decent patch of wind and the fleet made their most impressive start formation of the day heading off to the left in a tight bunch. The wind did not last and progress up the beat was very slow. After many tacks Sawford lead a tight bunch of 3 Sprint 15s (Sawford, Snell and Love) around the windward mark followed by 2 club Flying Fifteens, then Goldstone and Tuite Dalton. This formation persisted along the first reach and then down the run with the Sprint 15s desperate to keep ahead and out of the wind shadow of the FFs flying their spinnakers. This they did and on the final reach Goldstone sailed past the fleet by sailing low below the FFs. The Race was shortened to a single lap and Snell held on to take the gun from the charging Goldstone and Love. The observers in the club noted with some amusement that in the last 50 metres of the race Sawford sailed from second to fifth whilst Goldstone sailed from fourth to second.
So at the end Snell won with a perfect score of 3 guns. It is the first time that a Grafham sailor has won the handsome Chris Black Trophy.
This event concludes the Winter Series but the Summer Series starts at Marconi on 14/15 April.
Report by Bob Carter. Pictures by Jeremy Atkins.
Full Series Results available here