A total of 25 Sprint 15s took part in the Traveller event at Marconi SC – with a particularly noteworthy turnout of travellers given the dreadful weather conditions leading up to the event.
Fortunately, whilst the air temperature was still fresh, the sun came out both days with reasonable winds on the Saturday and lighter airs on the Sunday.
Race Officer, Lee Harrison, set three races back to back on the Saturday afternoon in a Force 3 easterly breeze and a strong outgoing tide. Following a General Recall, the fleet had a clean second start to Race 1 with approximately half the fleet going for a port hand start. By the time the fleet had criss crossed up the first beat – David Ball, Thomas Sandal and Paul Grattage led round the first mark. The downwind leg presented some interesting tidal tactics with sailors taking different decisions when to make a break for the leeward mark without getting having to run for too long against the strongest part of the tidal stream. David Ball maintained his lead to win the race with Thomas Sandal close behind, followed by Jenny Ball and Paul Grattage.
For Race 2, the majority of the fleet favoured a starboard start as the wind had shifted slightly. After a close first beat where again the tide played a key role, Jenny Ball, Paul Craft and Liam Thom led the fleet round the first mark. Again, the downwind leg proved to be tactically critical with different groups opting for different approaches – this time slightly less favourable for those who took the extra detour to get out of the tide. The fleet started to spread out slightly over the second beat but with close racing between each group of competitors. Jenny just about managed to hold off Liam and Paul to come in first, second and third respectively.
Race 3 had a (pre-arranged) different windward mark so again the majority of the fleet set off on a starboard start. Those who opted to put in more tacks but stay within the main channel managed to gain enough tidal advantage to get to the windward mark first. With the tide slackening slightly and a slightly stronger wind, the fleet now opted for a wide variety of approaches to reaching the leeward mark. Some stayed on the far shore as before, others made the break early and went up the main channel and a third group crossed to the other side of the river and then gybed back out again. After three laps, Jenny Ball took first place followed by David Ball, Thomas Sandal and Paul Grattage.
Race 4 was scheduled to be the now famous “Round the Islands Race” but due to the very light airs on Sunday morning, the Race Officer wisely decided to confine the race to one island, rather than two. A slightly smaller fleet set off in light and fairly fluky winds, scattered along the full length of the start line and in very different pockets of wind! By the time the fleet got to Osea Island, the front runners included Paul Grattage, Steve Healy, Jenny Ball, Pete Richardson, Paul Craft and David Ball. By the time the fleet got to the far end of the Island, it had bunched together in virtually no wind. Paul Grattage pulled away into a clear lead whilst the rest of the fleet adopted a range of different approaches. Those who opted to follow Gordon Goldstone and fetch off (albeit slightly in the wrong direction) gained a very positive advantage and the fleet soon spread out right across the river chasing puffs of wind. Paul Rattage went on to extend an amazing lead but it was anyone’s race behind him as the fleet headed back to the finish line. In the end, George Stephen took second, with Jon Finch and Gordon Goldstone in third and fourth respectively.
A great weekends sailing was had by all and the sunshine was an added bonus!
Full Series Results available here