On Saturday February 16th the Sprint 15 fleet visited Queen Mary for the fourth event of their Winter Series. There was a good turn out of 16 entries, ranging from IOW in the south to Carsington in the north. The weather delivered a superb sailing day with bright blue sky and a decent wind. Unusually at Queen Mary, the wind was from a north easterly direction.
For the event, race officer Dave Donnelly set the fleet a square course on the eastern side of Queen Mary reservoir.
At the start of the first race, Kevin Dutch and Steve Sawford were quick off the line and into an early lead with Robin Newbold and Erling Holmberg close by. Dutch led the fleet round the first lap and started to build a lead. Behind him, the order was very close and Gordon Goldstone, Paul Craft, and Ray Gall were also in the hunt. Following on close behind came Draycote’s Ed Tuite-Dalton and Derek James.
This was a day of big windshifts and proving very difficult to judge. The huge windshifts the fleet experienced led to some dramatic reversal of positions, and that’s how it was throughout the race and indeed, the whole day.
On the 3rd lap, Goldstone and Craft lost out badly by picking the wrong side of the course, conversely, George Stephen got it right and was suddenly up with the leaders. In the middle of the fleet, the Queen Mary pair of Stewart Pegum and David Casale were battling it out with Thorpe Bay’s Darren Kiggins and Carsington’s Robert England.
At the finish, Kevin Dutch was clear ahead, but Erling Holmberg came through to take 2nd ahead of Sawford. George Stephen was 4th and Carsington’s, Robin Newbold 5th. Ray Gall (sailing sport) crossed the line ahead of Gordon Goldstone but wasn’t far enough ahead on handicap, so was 7th and 6th respectively.
The 2nd race produced more challenges for the competitors, as the wind constantly shifted. Dutch was again quick away at the start, but George Stephen just got to the windward mark first. This was a close race, with positions constantly changing.
Within 3 laps, Steve Sawford was right up with Kevin Dutch, and Robin Newbold had got past Erling Holmberg into 3rd. Robert England was having a good race, and got himself ahead of George Stephen and Ed Tuite-Dalton. This group pulled out quite a lead over the others.
Stewart Pegum led the 2nd group round and did well to hold off the chasing pack. Just a bit further back, Draycote’s Jan Elfring and Queen Mary’s Keith Chidwick were having a real battle between themselves.
At the finish, Kevin Dutch was just a few yards ahead of Steve Sawford. This was not a big enough lead to prevent Sawford taking the win on handicap. 3rd place went to Robin Newbold, with Erling Holmberg 4th and Robert England held off George Stephen to take 5th.
After 2 excellent races, Kevin Dutch was a deserving overall winner, with Steve Sawford 2nd and Erling Holmberg 3rd.
The final event of the Sprint 15 Winter series takes place at Grafham Water on March 16th.
Full Series Results available here