Strong, gusty force 6 winds made for a challenging time in the Taw-Torridge estuary for the Sprint 15 Sport Nationals, held from 19- 21 May 2006. 43 helms signed up, with many coming from the Isle of Wight, Grafham in Cambridge, Carsington in Derbyshire, and elsewhere, but with a strong local contingent of 19 boats from North Devon Yacht Club. Sadly, Friday was too windy to get on the water at all, but race officer Richard Stone managed to get in two ‘white knuckle rides’ on Saturday. The starboard-handed course, with a strong westerly wind, gave a very fast run from off Appledore towards Instow. Gybing off the beach at Instow to make for the final mark required nerve and sometimes luck to stay afloat. Many helms went in for an unexpected swim!
By the end of Saturday the leader was George Carter, the current champion, from Grafham, with two first places. George had flown back from Canada to take part in the championship. Lying in second place was Carl Blenkinsop from Gurnard with a fifth and a third place. Leading local boat was Ian Mounce sailing well to hold ninth place. Mike Johns, Sam Heaton and Pete Ewing from north Devon Yacht club were tied in 11th place.
The forecast for Sunday was dire – in the end it relented enough to get two good races in. This time the wind was more Southerly, blowing up the Torridge – but with some hefty gusts of over 30mph. With a port handed course, the main danger point was the windward mark with a tricky turn to go either down the beach or back out towards Skern Bay. Needless to say, there were a good number of sometimes spectacular capsizes.
As on the Saturday, the conditions were handled best by George Carter, who won both legs to win the trophy for an amazing seventh time. George’s four wins put him three points ahead of Robin Leather form Gurnard, who took second in three of the four races. In third overall was Carl Blenkinsop with Steve Sawford (Grafham) just taking fourth place from Shanklin’s Paul Tanner. The final podium spot was taken by Kevin Dutch from Seasalter SC.
Leading local boat in the end was Paul Jury who had an excellent Sunday to claim 7th place.
Special mention should go to Sam Price, a cadet at NDYC, with a gutsy performance in 19th place overall, keeping upright most of the time very well. Sam won the prize for the leading cadet. In the veterans category, Bob Carter from Grafham took the honours, coming in eighth overall
Winners of the Windsport Catparts vouchers were Dave Stanley (£15), Steve Richardson (£10) and Ed Low (£5).
For the full results table, click here (PDF).