Traveller, Grafham Cat Open 21-22 October 2006

Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Traveller at Grafham
Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Traveller at Grafham

The last regatta of the Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Summer traveller series was held at Grafham Water Sailing Club on the weekend of 21/22 October and there was an entry of 46 boats which is a new class record for a non-Nationals traveller. There were 18 boats from the home club and additionally multiple entries from Marconi (5), Thorpe Bay (4), Queen Mary (3), Shanklin (2), Carsington (2) and Canvey Island YC (2 both new members this year). Seven of the new "Out of Africa" boats from our new builder (Collins Fibreglass) were also taking part. The event was part of the Grafham Cat Open and the Sprint 15s shared a course with Dart 18 single-handed, Shearwater, Vortex and Medium Handicap so with over 100 boats on the course it was very busy.

Race officer, Charlie Stowe, set the Sprint 15s a large trapezoidal course with tight reaches which is what the class enjoy and there were 3 races each day. On Saturday there was a force 3-4 Southerly wind and in the first race Robin Leather sailing Sport mode made no mistakes leading from start to finish. Leather was followed for most of the race by Simon Farthing, but Simon muffed a tack shortly before the end of the race and let Bob Carter through to take second from Farthing, Steve Sawford and Nick Dewhirst. The second race took place after a lunch break in wind and rain as a front passed through which favoured the heavy weather sailors. Dewhirst and William Tusting were close behind Leather at the first mark but once again Leather established a commanding lead leaving the fight behind for the minor places. Sawford did enough to take second place from Robin Boardman, who was getting the feel of his Sprint 15 and worked his way up the fleet throughout the race. Carsington Sport sailor, George Love, was up there with the leaders also but dropped back to 5th place on corrected time.

Time was running out for the last race of the day before the lake closed but a short one-lap race was staged in a dieing wind. The fleet had it's first general recall of the weekend which did not help the timing. After we got away, Carter led most of the race from Leather & Richard Whitelock, who was pointing high and fast in the light breeze, but at the end of the race Leather sailed by and escaped the traffic by enough to take first from Carter, Whitelock, Sawford and Peter Richardson.

New 'Out of Africa' boats
New 'Out of Africa' boats

On the Saturday evening 32 of the fleet went off to a Class dinner at the nearby Lion at Bucken, which has become a bit of a Class tradition over the last few years.

On the Sunday the previously forecast gales did not materialize and the wind was something like a variable Southerly force 2-3 which dropped progressively through the morning. 3 races were run back-to-back. In the first race of the day Carter led for most of the race from Leather and then there was a huge gap to the chasing pack of Richardson, Gordon Goldstone, Farthing, Boardman, Frank Sandells and Sawford. Sportster, Leather got by after 2 laps but did not make enough progress to take the result from Carter but Boardman once again worked his way to take third place from Richardson and Farthing. Race 5 was a bit of a drifter as the wind died. At the windward mark it was Leather from Carter, Paul Roberts, Whitelock, Boardman and George Stephen. The two Sprinters of Leather & Stephen made the most of their extra speed on the reaches to draw ahead leaving the una-rig boats behind to jostle for position. The sequence on corrected times was Leather, Boardman, Carter, Stephen, Whitelock and Chris Black. For the final race the wind swung to the SW and filled to a force 3, which needed the course to be swung but for the competitors it was welcome news indeed. Sportster, Ray Gall, established a lead when the others got caught up in (Shearwater/Vortex) traffic but not far behind Farthing, Carter and Boardman were involved in a tight duel. Both Farthing and Boardman have recently returned to class and are clearly on the pace and enjoying it. Simon Farthing so much so that he is grinning for much of the time even though he is concentrating hard on his racing it is a pleasure to see someone enjoying himself so much. At the end Gall was first over the line but the corrected sequence was Carter, Farthing, Boardman, Gall and Philip Howden

Thus after an exciting weekend in which all 6 races were sailed, Robin Leather won with a consistent performance throughout the weekend (1,1,1,2,1) from Bob Carter (2,2,1,3,1) and Steve Sawford (4,2,4,7,6). Our thanks go to Charlie Stowe and the Grafham race team who did a super job running such a busy regatta.

The Winter Series starts on Saturday 4 November at Stewartby.

Overall Results
1st R Leather Gurnard 6 pts
2nd R Carter Grafham 9 pts
3rd S Sawford Anybody's 23 pts
4th R Boardman Hailfax 25 pts
5th S Farthing Grafham 27 pts
6th R Whitelock Grafham 40 pts
7th N Dewhirst Whitstable 41 pts
8th P Richardson Marconi 49 pts
9th G Goldstone Queen Mary 50 pts
10th R Gall Carsington 55 pts

Sport Format
1st R Leather Gurnard
2nd R Gall Carsington
3rd G Love Carsington
4th G Stephen Queen Mary
5th D Casale Queen Mary

Windsport-Catpart Vouchers: 15 P Allsop; 10 E Quigley; 5 M Stokes

Full Results for Grafham Cat Open available here

Thanks to Mark Aldridge for the photographs.