Location: Herne Bay Sailing Club, Kent.
The weekend of 2nd/3rd September saw the latest round of the Dart 15 T.T. circuit taking place at Herne Bay Sailing Club. The Club,as indeed the north Kent coast was awash with cat' sailors as it co-hosted the Catapult Nationals over the same weekend and neighboring Whitstable Y.C. ran the Forts Race. An adverse weather forecast and other D15 sailors commitment to the Forts Race kept numbers down unfortuneatly but visitors from Grafham, Rutland and Queen Mary joined the home fleet for some unforgetable blasting in rough conditions.
With a fresh northerly wind blowing and a choppy/rough sea running, race officer Dick Holness set a quadrilateral course for the two Saturday races. The visiting "Pond" sailors quickly adapted to the tricky conditions with several opting to sail "sprint" mode. Races one and two saw the tussel that was to dominate the weekend between Bob Carter (sailing Unarig) and Steve Sawford (sailing sprint). In Saturday's races both achieved a first and second with Mark Sanders just four seconds behind in race one. As race two progressed storm clouds gathered ominously on the northern horizon and race Officer Holness reduced the second race to two lapes in time for the fleet to finish and to get safely back to shore before the squall hit.
With dramitic reduction in wind forecast for Sunday thoughts were if the sprint boats would be disadvantaged in lighter conditions. When Sunday dawned the wind was indeed different - stronger than the previous day, blowing force 5-6 northerly. If it had seemed rough on Saturday it was a white knuckle ride for Sunday's races. Four-five foot surf was rolling into the beach and the beach party proved invaluable in getting all competitors safely away. In the difficult conditions R.O. Holness decided to race the remaining 3 races back to back over the inverted " P " course. Race 3 saw Sawford getting quickly into his stride as precise boat handling to negotiate the large wave trains reaped benefits. All competitors enjoyed mind-blowing reaching to and from the wing mark. Exiting the gate on the last lap saw the three boats of Dave Stanbridge, Bob Carter & Mark Sanders in close formation, Sanders from the back of the group was first to tack for the line, overtaking Carter to finish 2nd behind Sawford.
Race 4 quickly followed with Carter quickly into his stride dispite having to have return to shore to replace a lost hatch cover & remove unnecessary ballast prior to the race. With a substantial lead at the windward mark he continued to extend his lead and was followed home by Sawford & Sanders, Sanders finishing ahead on handicap.
Race five saw two retirements prior to the start as Sanders and Blake began to feel to effect of the previous nights Line Dancing activities and headed back for the Club House.
So with the meeting beautifully poised with both Sawford and Carter on equal points - race five was to be the decider.
The sprinting Sawford quickly opened up a substantional lead as the wind began to ease slightly but still leaving a very heavy chop for all to contend with. Sawford was first over the line and in the race for second and third place Gordon Goldstone managed to pass Carter just before the finish to take second place. This left Sawford the overall winner of the event.
Mark Sanders 3.9.2000
|3rd||M Sanders||Herne Bay|
|4th||G Goldstone||Queen Mary|