The last regatta of the Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Summer traveller series was held at Grafham Water Sailing Club on the weekend of 16-17 October, which was also the Inland Championships. There were 30 entries including two who were trying out the DX sails, but could not qualify for the prizes as the sail has not been adopted by the class. This once again made the Sprint 15s the biggest fleet at the Grafham Cat Open.
Saturday was ideal – mostly bright with a force 3-4 northerly wind and race officer, Jack Edwards, set the preferred trapezoidal course with tight reaches and a port biased start line. Race one got underway with Kevin Dutch sailing Sport mode leading the charge at the windward mark from John Manning, Mark Aldridge and Gordon Goldstone. As the race progressed Dutch extended his lead and Steve Sawford sailing the experimental DX rig made ground but was unable to catch Dutch on the water. After 4 laps Dutch took the gun and was far enough ahead to win on corrected times from Aldridge, Manning, Goldstone and George Love who was also sailing Sport Mode. The DX of Sawford was second on the water but just tenth on corrected time.
Race two got underway just as a front and spell of rain came through. Dutch missed his trapeze hook and fell in just as the race got underway. Sawford made no such mistake and was first to the windward mark closely followed by Aldridge and Love. Sawford progressively extended his lead as the race developed while Aldridge and Kevin Kirby were slugging it out for second place. Ray Gall in the second DX worked his way up to second on the water but it was Sawford who took the gun after 4 laps. When the handicapping was applied the race was won by Kirby from Sawford, Aldridge, Goldstone, Thomas Sandal and William Tusting. There was a short delay after race 2 as the course had to be reset due to the wind swinging to the West. The fleet were happy that the reaches were extended during the course adjustments as they had been very short for the first two races. The start line was heavily port biased for race three and it tempted Dutch and Aldridge to try a port start at the pin end but the leading boats on starboard foiled their plan and they had to tack under them. On the first beat the wind swung further west and the boats that chose the right side (on port tack) made out like bandits and it was Aldridge, Dutch and Love that were first to the windward mark. Love sailed well downwind to take the lead closely followed by Sawford and Dutch. This race was the most open with frequent place changes and over the next laps both Sawford and Dutch took turns in the lead until Sawford opted for a swim and left the others to fight it out. After 6 laps Dutch took line honours but on corrected times it was Kirby who won from Aldridge, Dutch, Sandal and Erling Holmberg.
On Sunday the weather was clear but with just a light breeze from the NW. Race four got underway and once again it was Dutch first to the windward mark followed by Sawford, Sandal, Peter Richardson, Tusting and Robert England. This sequence was pretty much held for the first lap until Dutch lost out on the second beat leaving Sawford to take the lead. The race was shortened to 2 laps as the course was big and the wind was dropping. Sandal, who has spent most of the year nursing a knee problem, took the gun from Sawford, Richardson, Holmberg, Kirby and England.
The course was shortened and a fifth race was started. The wind continued to drop throughout the first lap to almost nothing and the race was eventually abandoned, much to the relief of many but a few were disappointed as they felt they might have manage to get round once. No further racing was attempted making it a 4 race series and the fleet retired to wash the killer shrimps off their boats with the pressure washers provided by the club.
Thus after an exciting sail on Saturday and a light day on Sunday, Kevin Kirby was crowned the new Inland Champion after narrowly beating Mark Aldridge on countback. The class would like to thank Grafham for an excellent event and now move on to start the winter series at Stewartby on 6 November.
Full Series Results available here