27 competitors took part in the first 40th Anniversary Sprint 15 Summer TT at Marconi SC on 14th and 15th April including an impressive home turnout of 13 boats. We were also pleased to welcome Nigel and Fiona Denchfield as guest Races Officers for the event.
In addition to the racing, we welcomed the winner of our competition at the RYA Dinghy Show for a cat coaching session with Brian Phipps from Windsport International.
As forecast, there was no wind in the morning but with a light breeze forecast for later in the afternoon it was decided to postpone racing for an hour. With the AP dropped ashore, the fleet headed out to the race area off picturesque Osea Island in a pleasantly mild afternoon with a light breeze.
With the ebb now running, a number of the fleet managed to get caught in the “coffin zone” behind the committee boat, but with the breeze strengthening, the fleet headed off to the windward mark. Paul Grattage established his lead at the first mark which proved unassailable. Meanwhile, Liam Thom, Chris Tillyer, Stuart Snell, Jenny Ball and David Ball battled it out for the “next” positions. Chris only managed to knock into Jenny’s shiny new boat once and Liam only managed to slightly insult Jenny by comparing her to the age of the Thames Sailing Barge that sailed by during the race. As a result of which, whilst Stuart came second, Jenny made sure that Liam and Chris came 4th and 5th respectively behind her.
Race 2 saw a number of boats get pushed over the line by the ebb tide. All but one (Jenny) re-cleared the line to continue the race. Uncharacteristically, Paul managed to knock the windward mark and had to do a turn. Jenny, David, Liam and George battled round the course with David taking the win (due to Jenny’s OCS) followed by Liam, George and Stuart. Meanwhile Jon Pearse had endeavoured to sail the race with a broken universal joint on his tiller extension which, even with the aid of some string from Chris, did not prove sustainable – but did earn him the GJW Direct Insurance spot prize – see below.
By Race 3 – a sea breeze was starting to build – unusual in April but reflective of the cold water and unusually warm air temperature which was, frankly, a welcome return after the cold and wet winter/spring we have all endured! Any original planning thoughts of deferring race 3 to Sunday were re-evaluated and it was decided to stick with the original NOR plan. Which proved to be the right call as a decent breeze accompanied the race. Stuart and Paul broke away with Stuart building enough of a lead to take the win. David. Jenny, Liam and Kevin Kirby battled out behind – who managed to hold off Ed, Jim Bowie and George snapping at their heels.
The fleet headed in for a well deserved dinner – accompanied by champagne and cake as the Events Assistant had managed to coincide the event (at her home club) with her birthday.
On Sunday morning, the forecast was for a decent breeze coming in at about 12 noon As such, the plan was to fit in a “round the cans” race from about 11 – and then the legendary figure of eight round the islands race to follow. The weather decided to continue its fickle record this winter/spring by providing lots of mist, although this had cleared by the time the fleet launched mid-morning. Patiently expecting the forecasted 11 knot breeze, the fleet sailed about but the winds remained fickle and not possible to race in for a further hour. Eventually, a light breeze came in and, with a slight tweak to the marks, the Race Officer set the fleet off. In a fluctuating breeze of anywhere between 2 and 7 knots, the fleet set off round the course. Some had been delayed getting to the course, having opted to park on the beach and some got delayed by the strong tide. Andy Perks led round the first mark, pursued by Paul, Stuart and Nigel James – with a group of Jenny, David, Kevin, George, Jim Bowie, Will Harrison and Jon Pearse battling out behind. The wind held out enough to complete a proper two lap race with Paul taking the win, followed by Stuart and Nigel and Andy putting in really impressive third and fourth place results given they both only recently joined the fleet.
As a result of the delay, but with the light breeze holding, the fleet decided to go ahead with race 5 but a shortened version of just Osea Island, (rather than the full course including Northey Island). given the state of the tide. With an interesting downwind start (!), the fleet headed diagonally across to Osea Island. By now punching an ebb tide – it was an interesting decision whether to hug the Osea shore out of the tide but risk an element of wind shadow by doing so. Chris managed to do this successfully whilst Liam headed out into more breeze / more tide and the pair converged ahead of the rest of the fleet just before turning at the head of the island. As the fleet reached the turning point, the wind filled in with good strength creating a fantastic beat behind Osea Island. Those who stood on further to the Goldhanger shore benefitted those who had tacked earlier but it was a great beat to the turning mark at the end of the island. At this stage, Liam had consolidated his lead to take the win, followed by Ed Dalton, Paul, George, Jenny, Jim, Stuart and David.
The fleet headed home after a great weekend of sailing! Big thanks go to the Race Officers, Race Committee and Support boat crews who had to set up and deliver 5 races in some unpredictable conditions whilst we all waited for the wind.
Jemma Clarke – Marconi new comer to the event – and it was only her second time on a Sprint 15!
Jason Clarke – second place youth entry
Will Harrison – Youth winner and 12th placed overall
Jon Pearse – winner of the GJW Insurance spot prize for sailing 1.5 races with a rope rigged broken tiller extension.
Report by Jenny Ball, Pictures by Oli Southgate and George Love.
Full Series Results available here