Following the Friday night phone calls from the dark lanes of the Derbyshire countryside after dropping off their boats at Carsington SC and asking for directions to George Kent (local farmer) campsite, it was with some relief to see that Kevin Dutch and Ben Saunders had managed to navigate their way back down the hill (200 yards) to Carsington sailing club to enjoy their bacon butty breakfast.
The early morning traveller from Shanklin had also arrived and had put his boat together / rigged and ready for action on the beach by the time I arrived at 08:45, I expected his usual broadside of friendly abuse but instead he was quick to announce with much pleasure in his face and a twinkle in his eye that he had just beaten Steve Sawford long standing land speed record for a Sprint 15 (on a roof rack) of 108 mph, the unverified all comers record now apparently stood at 112 mph, plans were already afoot to alter the position of the Sprint 15 hulls on his roof rack to give greater down force and further shatter the newly acclaimed record.
One of the slowest journeys of the day was undertaken by late arrival George Wood who despite professing to know the back lanes of Derbyshire, was unable to find a reservoir that can be seen from outer space and causing him to miss the first race, he was later quick to point out that he would have finished in the top ten had it not been for his misfortune!
A record entry of 22 Sprint 15s from nine different clubs turned out to contest the Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Northern Championship event held at Carsington reservoir on the 15th & 16th September 2007.The wind guru forecast for Saturday was predicted to be a disappointing 1-2 mph and our fears were confirmed when we arrived at Carsington to find the lake looking like a mirror. As we rigged the boats the wind started to fill in and continued to improve until we had a giddy 8-10 mph.
The championship was to prove a highly contested and competitive event, evidence of this can be witnessed by the fact that each of the five races had a different victor and the Sprint 15 talent that is now emerging was evident with four of the top eight places going to young guns. Having said this, the elder statesmen were not giving their scalp away easily.
Racing started at 12 noon with race officer Henry Wright setting an inverted “P” course which would be used for all three races on the Saturday.
Race 1, majority of the fleet started on starboard with a few helms trying port flyers but were thwarted by a line of boats. Ray Gall, sailing in Sport mode was leading the pack up the beat, closely followed by Tom Gall. Picking the right tack up the beat was to prove problematic throughout the afternoon, this leading to many changes of position, with big gains to be made picking the wind shifts. Main benefactors of this were Gordon Goldstone & Erling Holmberg, who from a very poor start on port tack, eventually overtook the field to win the race from Tom Gall and Gordon Goldstone third.
Race 2, saw all boats start on starboard, with a few boats tacking off early onto port. This tactical decision paid dividends for George Love sailing Sport mode who rounded the windward mark first and over the next two laps built his lead over a small breakaway bunch consisting of Kevin Dutch, Tom Gall and Steve Tunnacliffe. The pack of boats at the rear saw many challenges taking place with Charles Watson, Dave Walker, George Wood and Norman Grum and Paul Craft trading places. Meanwhile up at the front, Kevin Dutch was closing in on George Love who hung on to take line honours from Kevin Dutch and Tom Gall.
Race 3, majority of the fleet started on starboard with Charles Watson and Ray Gall electing to go for a port flyer. However, they had to pick their way through the starboard line and once clear, made good headway towards the windward mark. Battling away up the centre of the beat was Phil Howden Stewart Pegum and Richard Harrison. First to the windward mark was Tom Gall who had broken away from the field on starboard tack and rounded just in front of Charles and Ray closely followed by Ben Tunnacliffe who was revelling in the conditions closely followed by Robin Newbold. A close battle then ensued for the lead, but Tom Gall extended his lead and was never to be headed winning from Charles Watson and Ben Tunnacliffe.
The results at the end of day one highlighted a close battle for the first three positions with just three points separating 1st 2nd & 3rd. The next six boats were only separated by 2 points, leaving the Northern Championship wide open and everything to play for, of interest was the weather forecast for Sunday which look set for some interesting catamaran sailing.
Saturday evening was enjoyed by 35 sailors and partners who enjoyed a very nice 3 course meal prepared by ‘The Galley’ (Sandra and Deborah) caterers at Carsington Sailing Club. The racing stories of the day became more elaborate as the wine flowed and jesting at some of the helms’ expense continued way into the evening. The weekend was ‘topped’ by the presence of Paul and Carol Smith as well as Bob and Angie Carter who attended the weekend championship as spectators and to cheer on the Sprint 15ers.
Sunday morning, we woke up to wind guru forecast of 20mph plus gusts! Which seemed unlikely given the calm conditions at 0900 hours. But by the start of the 10.30am race, white crests were in abundance on the reservoir. Race officer, Henry Wright taking advantage of the conditions set a “b” course which was much to the Sprint 15ers delight.
Race 4, a mainly starboard line set off up the beat, hiking hard to keep the boat flat. Charles Watson leading the pack from Erling Holmberg and Kevin Dutch. Charles got to the windward mark first and leading the pack down the run and onto a scintillating reach before a starboard gybe onto another reach to the leeward mark. One of the first casualties of the day was George Love, who on the reach chasing Ray Gall, had the misfortune for a shroud wire to break putting pay to a good position. The gusts by now gaining strength and catching out many helms causing some spectacular pitchpoles and capsizes. One of the early victims, Robin Newbold capsizing at the leeward mark showed off his righting skills by getting the boat up quickly and fighting his way back through the fleet to ultimately finish second. Another casualty was Kevin Dutch who just before the last mark of the race was caught by a savage gust, causing him to pitchpole when in second position and eventually finishing fourth. Charles Watson continued to build his lead and went on to win the race.
Race 5, started in a gale and from a starboard line again, the fleet split into two half way up the beat, those who tacked onto port made good progress, whilst the starboard boats were headed. First to the windward mark was Robin Newbold locked in close battle with Charles Watson, Erling Holmberg, Kevin Dutch and Tom Gall. Again the downwind leg and reaches were now providing two or three testing moments for each of the competitors and lining up your gybe was extremely interesting and a test of seamanship. Going well in this race was Ed Tuite Dalton, Norman Grum and Derek James sailing sport mode who seemed to be enjoying the conditions. The strong winds and gusts by now forcing retirements after numerous capsizes. Robin Newbold revelling in the conditions extended his lead over Charles Watson and Erling Holmberg which ended up the 1, 2 & 3 positions.
Full Series Results available here
Windsport Voucher Winners: