2014 Sprint 15 Nationals at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club.
An excellent entry of eighty five Sprints competed in the 2014 Nationals held at TBYC on 12-14 July. Twenty nine boats from the home club made a significant contribution to the superb turnout from clubs all across the UK. For the traditional practice race on Saturday the fleet was met with a very light westerly breeze and a strongly flooding tide. After an extremely slow trip to the windward mark Race Officer Phillip Crawford very wisely abandoned the race and called everyone back to the starting area for race one of the series.
Race 1. With a long and well set start line the keen but well behaved fleet got under way with no one OCS. The benign weather and the camera drone hovering over the start line obviously had a calming effect, as well as providing some excellent video shots which can be watched on the TBYC website. After two laps of very tactical but slow racing the winner was Robert England with Stuart Snell second and Peter Lytton third.
Race 2: After a long wait for the tail enders to finish race 1, race two got under way in a fading breeze and with the tide beginning to ebb strongly. The right hand side of the course was heavily favored to get up tide and deciding when to tack onto the starboard lay line was crucial. Overstanding by a long way was essential. Many misjudged the strength of the tide and were swept onto the mark or onto other boats trying to clear it. This was compounded by numbers arriving on port with ’nowhere to go’. The leading boats had already passed the windward mark, blissfully unaware of the chaos behind them and began to carve out a long lead. David Lloyd did a classic ’horizon job’ to take the win by a large margin. The race was shortened at the third mark as the wind switched off and the ebb became stronger. Local hero Andrew Hannah took an excellent second place with Frazer Manning third and Jim Bowie fourth. Thirty boats failed to beat the time limit
Race 3: Sunday morning did not look promising. Dark, overcast skies brought heavy rain. Fortunately by race time the skies were clearing and there was a decent sailing breeze. Local sailor Andrew Wood built up a long lead on the first lap, with Stuart Snell, Paul Craft, David Lloyd and Erling Holmberg in pursuit. On lap two Stuart Snell gradually closed in on Andrew and managed to win in the tightest of finishes. Paul Craft was third, David Lloyd fourth and Erling Holmberg fifth.
Race 4.: With the skies clearing and with welcome sunshine came a rapidly softening breeze. The tide was ebbing strongly, presenting the fleet with familiar tactical options. A select group that had opted to go to the right was led up to the windward mark by local Tornado sailor Dave King, although on the long run he was eventually swallowed up by the rest of the group. The second lap was sailed in a patience sapping, failing breeze and race officer Phil shortened course at the third mark. The winner was Stuart Snell once again, with David Lloyd second, Paul Craft third and Jim Bowie fourth. Once again thirty boats scored a DNF by being timed out.
Race 5: Race cancelled due to lack of wind.
Race 6. Monday morning dawned bright sunshine and a crisp westerly force four blowing. Pre-start there were boats charging around like dogs let off a leash! This was a release after the two days of light winds. The fun started early in the race when a large contingent of the fleet having seriously over stood the windward mark came storming in on port, only to be faced with an almost unbroken line coming up on the starboard lay line. There was mayhem for a little while. Fortunately there was no serious damage, but there were many stories of places lost and gained. The early leaders and those who managed to avoid the melee were able to escape and open a good lead on the bulk of the fleet. After some tight racing Chris Tillyer led after the first lap, however Stuart Snell emerged as winner once again with Paul Craft Second, Robin Boardman third, George Love fourth and Steve Healy fifth.
By the time the final race started the conditions had returned to a familiar pattern. Reading the tidal changes was once again key to success. Shortly after the start a local fishing boat decided to sail straight through the fleet causing chaos to those who started towards the middle to pin end. Plenty of vocals were given to the fisherman. The right hand side of the course was heavily favoured. The fleet slowly spread out over a large area in search of breeze. Many in the fleet struggled to find their way to the windward mark against the tide. After three very slow laps the deserving winner of the race was once again Stuart Snell, this time with David Ball second and Robin Boardman third. Again more than twenty boats failed to beat the time limit.
Overall winner and >2014 National Champion is Stuart Snell who, with great consistency, won four races in extremely testing conditions and was even able to discard a second place. Runner up was David Lloyd and Paul Craft was third.
Leading boat from the home club was fleet captain Steve Healy in sixth place.
The prize-giving was presided over by Class Chairman Gordon Goldstone in the company of guest of honour Sissy Dewhirst who presented the usual host of awards. As overall winner, Stuart Snell was privileged to be the first recipient of the new National Champion Trophy – “The Nick Dewhirst Trophy” which Sissy commissioned and gifted to The Class in memory of her late husband and longtime Class Association Chairman Nick who sadly died almost a year to the day. Nick was a passionate cat sailor and the new trophy is a most fitting tribute to his lasting legacy.
Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions