Stewartby sailing club was the setting for the first event of the sprint 15 winter series, being held on a glorious sunny November morning. 10 travellers along with seven home boats ventured out onto the water for an 11:15 start. The race officer, Nigel Denchfield, set a trapezoid course which is the much favoured course for the sprint 15 crew.
The start gun went and the cat's powered over the line within a second, in winds which were varying up to 15 knots. Boats tussled for places in the first lap but by the end of the lap, Stuart Snell was in the lead followed by George Love, Paul Craft (Northern Champion) and Robert Finch.
This theme continued for a further four laps with good progress made by Jon Finch who moved up to 4th position by the end of the 5th lap. At the start of the final lap, Jon Finch gained a big lift on the windward leg and pipped Paul Craft and George Love to the mark putting him in second place behind Stuart Snell. Rounding mark three, Paul Craft had an incident and had to do a penalty turn which changed positions again. More drama at mark 4, this time causing George Love to do a penalty turn, right in front of the finish line leaving Stuart Snell clearly the winner, followed by Paul Craft, Jon Finch and Steve Sawford, who picked off three places in the final lap. George Love came in 5th still smiling even after his mishap in front of the finish line.
Race 2 followed quickly after with winds increasing up to 20 knots. This time boats were 4 seconds away from the line when the gun went, Stewartby's own, Mark Bunyan had an excellent start, up the front with the big boys, smiling like a cheshire cat. First mark honours went to Simon Farthing powering round the buoy, chased by Stuart Snell, Steve Sawford and Jon Finch.
By the end of the second lap, Stuart, Steve and Jon had got past Simon re-arranging the front of the pack. With winds dropping, Simon then overtook Jon and these positions stayed the same for the rest of the race leaving Stuart Snell to take the winners gun for race 2.
Overall, the event was won convincingly by Stuart Snell with two first places, 2nd was Steve Sawford, 3rd place Jon Finch.
The winter series continues with the next event at Oxford Sailing Club on the 6th December, 2014.
Full Series Results available here