Report by: Howard Hawkes, Pictures by: Nick Champion and Charles Watson
61 Sprint 15s contested their Nationals from August 16th to 18th with entries from Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa as well as the UK, of which nineteen were from the home fleet. The format was seven races with two discards and a square course was used throughout. As usual George Carter Ė late of Grafham, now a resident of Canada Ė dominated, crossing the line first in every race.
Saturday 16th August.
Race 1 started in a Force 3/4 southerly with a flooding tide and a lumpy chop. The pin end was favoured and by the end of the three rounds the breeze had dropped to a Force 2/3. George Carter won, Kyle Stoneham from the home club was second and Richard Philpott of Grafham was third.
Race 2 started in a Force 2 southerly. Again the pin end paid, provided you didnít allow yourself to be pushed on to the pin by the ebbing tide. Kyle Stoneham arrived at the pin too early, but gybed and passed behind the rest of the fleet on port tack and after three rounds in an increasing breeze he finished 6th. George Carter won, Peter Richardson from Marconi was second and Nick Miller (also from Marconi) was third.
Sunday 17th August.
Race 3 was held in a south-westerly Force 3 dropping to Force 2. The first two boats of George Carter and Nick Miller were deemed over the line at the start and so the winnerís mantle was taken by Brian Phipps, owner of the event sponsor Windsport. Keith Ball and Richard Phillpott (both from Grafham) were second and third respectively. The entry list had been extended by the late arrival of David Ball from Marconi, whose Nationals started well with a 6th.
In race 4 the wind started to build, to Force 3 by the end. George Carter won as usual, but this time there was a change in the supporting cast with Kevin Dutch from Seasalter finishing second and Robin Boardman of Halifax third.
The tide had started to ebb by the time race 5 got under way, such that at the pin it was not possible to cross the line on starboard. One boat (your reporter) crossed the fleet on port, but failed to consolidate his position and tack to cover the fleet, while those who went left benefited from a lift approaching the windward mark on port. Good night Vienna! The first three places were as in race 4.
Before the Annual Dinner that evening Brian Phipps of Windsport held a thought-provoking post-race debrief and Q&A session.
Monday 18th August.
Race 6 started in a stiff 20 mph south-westerly kicking up a steep chop; about half of the fleet stayed ashore. The winner once more was George Carter, Kevin Dutch posted his third successive second place and Brian Phipps was third.
Race 7 was a Thorpe Bay Buster - the breeze was now approaching 30 mph and the sea was rough. George Carter and Kyle Stoneham opted for port tack starts, ducking a few transoms on the way. Kevin Dutch revealed hitherto unknown artistry, pitchpoling on the first reach with balletic grace worthy of the Bolshoi Theatre. The race officer wisely shortened the race and as usual George Carter won with Brian Phipps second with Nick Miller of Marconi third.
The return to the beach was spectacular. Some chose the discrete approach under bare poles, others sailed full tilt up the beach coming to rest a whole boatís length out of the water, while a third faction rounded up to wind and reversed in. Fortunately there was no shortage of help from other competitors and the shore party. Brian Phipps showed his mastery of cats by recovering a capsize within a few feet of the beach huts.
The champion Ė for the eleventh consecutive time Ė is George Carter. Sadly he has decided it is no longer practical to compete in the Sprint fleet as he is now living in Canada. His boat has been snapped up by Andrew Hannah, who has done more than anyone to build the Thorpe Bay fleet to twenty odd boats.
Second was Brian Phipps from Restronguet, whose company Windsport kindly sponsored the event and donated prizes. Third was Kevin Dutch from Seasalter, retaining the position he achieved in last yearís event. Fourth was local rising star Kyle Stoneham, sailing his first Sprint Nationals. Fifth was Nick Miller of Marconi and sixth was Robin Boardman of Halifax.
Grafham retained won the team title, but this time they were pushed hard by Thorpe Bay, who were last in 2007. Charles and Elenya Watson won the two-up championship and finished 23rd overall. On more than one occasion I saw young Elenya happily chatting away as if on the beach while her Dad supervised a wild reach!
Charlie Pierce of Shanklin is the new Junior Champion, Brian Phipps is the over 50ís Champion and Peter Richardson has donned the over 60ís crown. Marconiís Fenella Miller is the Ladiesí Champion and local lifeboatman Martyn Ellis won the Most Improved Award in 12th place, up from 30th last year. The Pro-Am Championship was won by Brian Phipps and Roger Pimm, who borrowed a boat for the event.
Simon Rowell was the deserving winner of the new trophy for persistence, kindly donated by Carol Smith in memory of Paul Smith.
At the prizegiving various mishaps and exploits were recognised, including Kyle Stonehamís avoidance on port tack of Kevin Dutch on starboard by flying a hull over Kevinís transoms in Mondayís Force 6.
We would like to thank our sponsors: Windsport Catparts, W.H. Insurance Consultants, The Wetsuit Outlet and Bartlett Craft Jewellery.
The unanimous view was a successful event supervised by an excellent race team led by Race Officer Phil Crawford of the home club.
Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions