The Chris Black Sprint 15 Icicle Winter Event at Grafham
(or Thrills and Spills at Grafham)
The Grafham Sprint 15 Icicle traveller event took place on 17 March in a force 4-6 Westerly wind which was the residue of Storm Gareth. Seven travellers joined 3 locals for an exciting days racing in which many practised their capsize drill.
In the first race, top traveller, Paul Grattage, went straight into an early lead from Kevin Dutch and Stuart Snell. Grattage progressively opened out a huge lead over Dutch and likewise Dutch opened out a huge lead over the rest of the fleet in the 5 lap race and so neither were challenged. Further back it was a different story and there was some close racing for the minor places. Snell, Jenny Ball and local, Christian Mash were the main protagonists with each taking turns in 3rd place. At the end of a tiring 5 lap race Mash took third place from Ball, Snell and John Pearse.
The second race was sailed back-to-back with the first but ex-champion Dutch, making a welcome return after some time away from the circuit (racing his Tornado), was first up the beat and lead the fleet for the first lap. Grattage, (also an ex-champion), gave hot pursuit followed by Ball, Snell and Mash. At the start of the second lap Grattage eased into the lead and once again pulled away from the fleet. Ball and Snell traded 3rd place but then on the third lap Ball beat up the left side of the course to displace Dutch in second place. Dutch recovered however, on the downwind leg so after 4 laps at the gun the sequence was Grattage, Dutch, Ball, Snell and Mash.
A lunch break followed (to fit in with the Grafham club racing schedule ) before the third and final race took place. Just as race 3 was started the sky darkened and a squall blew up covering the lake with white horses. Race leader, Grattage found he could not bear away to gybe on the run and ended up putting in a tack and a 270 instead. A number capsized. Ball found her boat to be “self righting” from a quick capsize in the stiff 35 knot breeze and Dutch put in 3 capsizes in quick succession. Race officer, Phil Bevan had his own problems as the Committee boat dragged its anchor taking it off station for a while. Four of the competitors retired but 6 completed the full race and some revelled in the conditions. Grattage took his third win and Mash and Pearse were second and third. Ball was fourth and Kevin Cummerson was fifth.
So at the end of the day, Grattage was the clear winner from Dutch and Mash. Judith Black kindly came to present the prizes including the elegant trophy she donated in Chis Black’s memory.
There were 2 boats sailing Sport mode (a brave move in these conditions) and Derek James just beat Simon Hare, but both retired in race 3. It was also particularly nice to see a 2-up boat from Seasalter take part (ably sailed by John Bainbridge and Karen Baker).
This event concluded the Winter Series but the Summer Series starts at Marconi on 6/7 April.
Report by Bob Carter. Picture by Jon Pearse.
Full Series Results available here