The Sprint 15 National Championships was held at Netley Sailing Club over the long weekend of the 31st July to the 1st August. The 47 Competitors included three boats from this cat-friendly club with one sailed by Luke Scott in his first ever Sprint event. Sailors came from far and wide with the visitor from Halifax being surprised to be trumped by a visitor from New York. Numbers were down due to an unfortunate need to change the date after many had made holiday plans for the year meaning the fleet just fell out of the 50 plus club for the first time in many years.
The weather was basically perfect with sunshine and sea breezes allowing champagne sailing conditions particularly on the last day and facilitating long recovery sessions on the terrace and later on into the night on the club camp site.
Day 1 dawned windless but the Race Officer, David Henshall, set a postponement expecting that wind was coming early pm. His highly efficient race team laid the marks for an initially confusing but very sensible and soon to become familiar course providing two long and three shorter beats, three runs and two reaches utilising the full width of Southampton Water when required. This was the day for the light wind experts allowing Robin Boardman and Stuart Snell to shine, closely followed by Paul Grattage sailing one of the new Sprints 15s.
Day two was more of a mix with again no wind in the morning but an increasing breeze as the races progressed. The breeze, or breezes at times, was shifting allowing tactical advantages for those who spotted them as did the tide running down the start line making it essential to avoid the multiple piles-up at the pin end. Paul Grattage and Robin Boardman dominated with Kevin Dutch, Paul Craft and Jim Bowie featuring as the wind increased. A rare error (OCS) meant Paul Grattage had not won the event by the end of day two and had to compete on the last day. One race was sensibly abandoned after the pilot of a very large container ship had panicked somewhat when confronted by what he described as hundreds of fast moving white sailing boats between him and his destination. Surprisingly some competitors were not sure what the abandonment was for!
Day three was champagne Sunday. A gentle breeze greeted the competitors and this filled into a steady south westerly three by the time they launched. This increased over the day into a boisterous four which with a meaningful chop and sunshine showed the Sprints pedigree off to the full. The heavier conditions suited those who had shone the day before with Kevin Dutch taking Race One and Paul Grattage Race Two, making Grattage National Champion for 2015 and keeping his chances for a clean sweep of 15 major events alive. Other major trophy winners included Christine Roman who took the ladies’ prize, Henry and Simon Giles who took the two up cup, Joe Baker who took the youth prize and Thorpe Bay who won the Team Trophy.
Away from the water the fleet confounded its reputation and socialised hard with the bar full each night and much talking on the terrace serenaded by live music and a sail past by three large cruise ships on the Saturday night. The Association dinner was excellently prepared and served by catering students from Eastleigh College.
Thanks to the weather gods who allowed the locals to boast it is always like this here. David Henshall and the on-the-water team Rosie Parker ( Commodore and non-stop grafter), her son Alex overall event organiser, the shoreside team, the club caterers who were there from dawn until almost dusk and Windsport for the sponsorship and event support as efficiently provided by newbie Windsport Team Member Rosie Snell.
Report by David Groom
Pictures by Alan Howie Wood