29 Sprint 15s attended the last of the Summer Traveller series ( also the Inland Championships) at Grafham on the weekend of 25-26 October. The weather was ideal - mild with fresh South Westerly breezes and Race Officer, Nigel Denchfield, set a trapezoidal with square reaches. There were 3 races back-to-back on the Saturday and the wind was a gusty F3-4. In the first race the two Sport mode boats of Paul Grattage and Kevin Dutch led the charge from the una-rig boats of Stuart Snell, Mark Aldridge and David Ball. The upwind legs were tricky and there were big gains to be made by picking the most favoured side at the time, which early in this race often seemed to be the right hand side. Grattage followed by Snell sailed a faultless race leading from start to finish but the chasing pack were constantly changing. After 4 laps Grattage had stretched his lead out to win on corrected time from Snell, Aldridge, Robin Boardman and Kevin Kirby.
Race 2 followed quickly after a small course adjustment and at the windward mark Frank Sandells was first followed by Grattage and Paul Craft. On the second lap Grattage had established a small lead and was being hotly pursued by Snell and Chris Tillyer. Dutch entertained the audience by capsizing onto the windward mark and making hard work of the recovery. At the finish leader Grattage was left to do a 4th lap while the rest of the fleet were finished after 3 laps (the event was run on average lap times). Snell took the gun from Tillyer, Boardman, Jenny Ball and Craft. Grattage lost out heavily by doing his extra lap in a slightly reduced wind. In race 3 Dutch came out full of resolve and led the fleet around first 2 laps hotly chased by Simon Farthing, John Manning and Grattage. National Champion Snell was nowhere to be seen. Grattage worked his way to the front on lap 3 followed by Dutch but Dutch could not shake off Farthing, Craft and Tillyer. The race was finished after 4 laps and once again Grattage won from Farthing who was just able to hold off Snell. The racing had been fast and efficiently run so the fleet retired to the bar for the meal which was brought forward by an hour. In the bar the talk was of how Houdini Snell had come from nowhere to take 3rd place in race 3.
On Sunday the weather was true to the forecast with more wind and stronger gusts but the angle (SW) had hardly changed and the course needed little adjustment from Saturday. In race 4 the wind was about a force 4 gusting to F5 and the heavy weather guys were delighted. Once again Grattage and Dutch led the fleet round but the una-rig boats of Farthing, D Ball, Craft and Robert Finch were right behind and could capitalize on the occasional overpowering of the Sportsters. Farthing won the race from D. Ball but Grattage and Dutch came in 3rd and 4th ahead of Craft and R Finch. By race 5 the gusts had strengthened somewhat but Dutch was ready and stormed into a big lead at the first mark from Grattage, David Groom and R Finch. The reaches were fast and frantic with boats occasionally having to delay the gybe for self preservation. Dutch was in his element and stretched his lead from Grattage throughout the race. R Finch was building a big gap to the rest of the unarig boats and was in a strong 3rd place until sadly a toe strap broke on the windward leg of the fourth lap resulting in a capsize. Dutch won the race from Grattage, Ball, Snell, Farthing and Steve Sawford (6th) who had swapped his A Class for Tiger Shark. During this race gusts of approaching 30 mph were recorded and the Spitfire fleet on the other race track were struggling.
So at the end of the day Grattage retained his Inland Championship crown (sailing Sport mode this time) from National Champion Snell and Grafham heavyweight champion, Farthing.
This event concluded the Sprint 15 Summer Traveller series but the Winter Traveller series kicks off at Stewartby next weekend on 1 November.
Full Series Results available here