A 9 strong home team joined 13 visitors for the Sprint 15 Summer TT held at Stewartby Water Sports Club. Holding a summer sailing event is always a gamble but there was bags of wind and broad smiles across the faces of the helms as they gathered in the clubhouse for bacon-butties and the briefing.
Even before racing began; drama came in the shape of a gust which cast Chris Clarkes sail skyward like a giant kite attached only by the halyard. The rogue sail took the top of Mark Norman’s thumb off and led to Chris taking no further part in the regatta and mark soldiering on with a bandaged hand.
The 4 races planned were to take place on the smaller ‘club’ sailing area forcing boats to short-tack to the windward mark and milk every ounce out of the wind on the reaches. Early in race 1 Steve Sawford, Kevin Dutch and Richard Philpott made the best of the conditions taking an early lead and managed to lap the back-markers by the start of lap 3. Erling Holmberg led the second pack around in the sometimes-gusty conditions. Plenty of spills throughout the fleet made for an exciting spectacle from the shore. But after 7 laps it was Sawford, Dutch and Philpot on the line.
Race 2 saw a repeat of the Sawford, Dutch one-two with Holmberg picking-up a well-deserved third place. Midfleet, home-competitors were picking-up decent mid fleet places with Robert Finch coming out on top from Simon Miles, Mark Norman and Jon Finch.
Over lunch, Race Officer Tim Browning and Safety Boat Captain Ian Howard set about extending the course to include a fast 1000m broad-reaching leg across the lake and with, the wind continuing to hold, racing began in earnest.
Once again, Sawford and Dutch continued to dominate the racing from the front, with Philpott holding onto third-place. Howard Hawkes posted 4th place (his best of the day), but as Race 3 drew to a close, conditions eased somewhat with the remainder of the fleet sedately crossing the line.
Race 4 began in moderate conditions compared to the rest of the day and the race officer made the decision to shorten the overall course length. However the wind soon picked-up resulting in very fast laps indeed. At the end of the race, Philpott picked-up first place (Sawford and Dutch had sealed the event after 3 races) with local helm Robert Finch bagging second place. Local boats dominated the top 10 places with Simon Miles, Mark Norman and Jon Finch picking-up 4th, 5th, and 8th respectively.
After 4 races the event was won by Steve Sawford (Rutland) followed by Kevin Dutch (Seasalter), Richard Philpott (Colne YC). First Stewartby boat was Robert Finch (5th). Mentions also go to under 19 helms Marcus Finch (18th) and Harry Janes (20th) who stuck it out all day in spite of the conditions.Race by Race results
Full Series Results available here