Location: Herne Bay Sailing Club
The Dart 15 National Championships were held at Herne Bay Sailing Club on 20-22 August. It was the first time that the championships have been run as a simple 3 day event for some years and attendance of 55 boats (up 18 from last year) showed that this format is indeed popular with the fleet. The conditions over the 3 days were fine and sunny with winds in the range of force 2 - 4 and all 7 races were completed.
Race officer, Dick Holness, and his team set trapezoidal course for the first day and proceedings were kicked off by a 1 lap practice race on the Friday which was taken up by about 20 keen competitors. The practice took place in a force 3 NW wind and Steve Hanby showed the way to the finish. The briefing followed and the competitors were "rollocked" for being late for the practice (actually the problem was a number of the boats were blocked in by cars on the promenade and could not get to the water).
Race 1 followed lunch and sadly the wind had dropped somewhat. Early leaders in race 1 were Steve Sawford, George Carter, Steve Hanby, Stuart Snell, etc. and this group sailed round to the leeward mark and then headed out to sea on port tack. Roger Hodgkison rounded the leeward mark in 7th place and spotted the wind had changed, tacked onto starboard and laid the windward mark in one tack over-hauling the leading boats and opening out a large lead in the process. The rest of the pack gave chase but Hodge’was away for the remainder of the 2 lap race although G Carter caught back to finish 1 second behind. Stuart Snell repelled Bob Carter and S Sawford for third place and Jenny Ball came in for 7th place behind Steve Hanby.
The second race was sailed back-to-back with race 1 and the course had been adjusted to allow for the windshift. First to the windward mark was Hodgkison followed by G Carter, Paul Frost, Gordon Goldstone, Peter Richardson, Eamonn Browne and an enormous bunch of boats. Hodgkison and G Carter progressively opened up a big lead from the chasing pack. At the end of lap 2 Hodge’relaxed only to find another lap was required and so he had to get sailing once more. The same happened at the end of lap 3 but he hung on to his lead. The wind was progressively building and by now was a force 3-4 and the fleet were beginning to have FUN - especially surfing down the waves on the run! G Carter got the wind shift he had wanted on the run and took over the lead from Hodgkison but Frost was clear in 3rd from R Carter and Gordon Goldstone in 4th and 5th. The fleet carried on for a fifth lap (which was not required) but no one could hear the hooter and two thirds of the fleet did an unnecessary extra lap, but who cared in such glorious conditions?
The evening was kicked off with happy hour, kindly sponsored by the Laser Centre (who market the Dart 15), the AGM to debate next years venue and a Chili courtesy of the Herne Bay Sailing Club.
On Saturday, Dick Holness, and his team set an inverted P’course for variety and with a North (onshore) wind the leeward gate was close inshore, which was ideal for the spectators ashore. Paul Berry was the first to the windward mark followed by Jerry Hampshire, Chris Black, etc. R Carter took the lead on the second beat and G Carter took over on the third beat and held on to the finish. R Carter was second from Hodgkison, Black, Snell and Hampshire. The Isle of Wight pair of Robin Leather and Carl Blenkinsop were seventh and eighth respectively.
The forth race was held after lunch but the wind had all but completely died. The first beat was a hit and miss affair but Steve Hanby made no mistakes and was over the horizon by the time the second boat reached the windward mark. George Stephen, Mark Sanders and Bob Milton picked up the chase but George Wood unfortunately hit the windward mark and found himself doing a 360’before resuming the chase. Hanby continued to open out his lead and won at the end of lap 2 from G Carter, G Stephen, R Carter and Sanders. Nick Dewhirst came in 6th ahead of Hodgkison and Laurie Gustar.
The final race of the day saw Snell charge into an early lead. G Carter overhauled him on the second beat and the finishing order was G Carter, Snell, R Carter and Hodgkison, who hit the leeward mark and had to do a 360 (or was it a ‘270’?) before the finish line. Black took fifth from Geoff Leather.
Sunday dawned with a flat calm and the fleet settled down to a 2 hour wait for any wind to fill in - this was just as well for some of the fleet who were feeling delicate from the exploits from the night before. Never was this more true than in the case of Gordon Goldstone who looked like death warmed up’after his 3am drinking bout. George Wood tried to cheer him up with some serious Sunday Literature (The Sunday Sport) but this failed to have any effect. Paul Frost studied it for 10 minutes before he found the sport section!
The wait proved to be well worth while as a steady Easterly breeze filled in which proved to be the best of the weekend. A trapezoidal course was set for race 6 beating along the shore to the East with assistance of the tide which was ebbing to the East. This proved to be the catch as half the fleet were carried over the line before the start for the first general recall of the weekend. The second start was clear and R Carter got away to round the windward mark first chased by Hanby, Sawford and G Carter. The order reversed on the downwind leg but Sawford took the initiative on the second beat by tacking out to sea for the tidal benefit. Sawford maintained the lead to the finish from G Carter, Hanby, Hodgkison, R Carter and Hampshire.
The 7th and final race followed back-to-back. The start saw a rare error from G Carter who failed to get away on port tack and had to sail under the whole fleet on port when caught by the leading starboard tack boat of Black. The rest of the fleet got away cleanly on starboard. The order at the windward mark was Hanby, Black, R Carter, Paul Storar, Snell. The race ensued for 4 laps in superb sailing conditions (force 4). The final order over the finish was Hanby, R Carter, *****!!!!, Snell, G Carter, and Tim Dieu de Bellefontaine. The ***** is the expletive deleted which occurred when the unfortunate Black crossed the finish and got no hoot for being over the start line!
Thus races were won by George Carter (3), Steve Hanby (2), Roger Hodgkison and Steve Sawford. Second places went to G Carter (3), Bob Carter (2), Roger Hodgkison and Stuart Snell. Others to feature in the top 3 places of races were Paul Frost and George Stephen.
In the final analysis G Carter won with 7 points from Hodgkison (14) and R Carter(15). The winning lady was Jenny Ball who was 9th overall. The two-up trophy went to Eric Sales and K Baker who narrowly defeated Keith and Meryl Bartlett.
Overall it was a great championships thanks to the organisation and efforts put in by the Herne Bay Sailing Club.
Bob Carter ( Dart 15 Events Secretary)
Full results are available in the September 1999 issue of Dispatches, the Dart 15 Association magazine.
|2nd||R Hodgkison||Herne Bay||14pts|
|2nd||H Dieu de Bellefontaine|
|1st||E Sales & K Baker||Seasalter|
|2nd||K & M Bartlett||Open Dinghy Club|
|3rd||T Benton & S Giles||Shanklin|
|1st||R Hodgkison||Herne Bay|
|1st||A Drake||Sandwich Bay|
|2nd||T Dieu de Bellefontaine||Marconi|
|1st||L Gustar + B Hoggard|