Windsport Catparts Sprint 15 Winter Event at Grafham
9 travellers joined just 2 locals for the final event of the Sprint 15 Winter Series at Grafham. Undoubtedly, the forecast of very light winds deterred many from taking part as did the clash of competing events. The racing comprised of 2 races back-to-back run as the first start with club racing. The Race Officer, Guy Humphreys, and his team set a trapezoidal course and started promptly as the forecast was for the wind to drop off though the morning The first race kicked off in a patchy and light 5-6 knot NE breeze and as the fleet progressed up the first beat they sailed into a hole in the breeze and progress was painfully slow. As is often the case in such light conditions the following fleet of Flying Fifteens could see a channel of wind developing to the left of the course and a number of them rounded the windward mark before the leading Sprint 15s. At the windward mark, Paul Grattage rounded first from Simon Farthing, Howard Hawkes and Paul Craft. Once the leaders were on the run they found that they were being blanketed by a line of Flying Fifteens flying their spinnakers. The nearby wind turbines stopped turning and progress was slow as the sailors dodged the holes in the wind. It took more than 30 minutes to do less than a lap the race was shortened to 1 lap. Grattage held on to take the gun but Farthing sailed into irons at the leeward mark and was passed by the chasing pack. Stuart Snell looked certain to cross the line in second but was squeezed out by Hawkes but Snell just prevented Craft from doing the same thing so hung on to third place.
The second race was started quickly after the completion of the first and by good fortune the wind had filled across the course area. Mark Bunyan sadly failed to cross the line in 2 minutes and had to retire but otherwise progress was good and at the windward mark Craft was leading from Snell and Grattage. Grattage was able to take the lead along the run by avoiding the wind shadows and opting for the best side.
The first lap was completed in 20 minutes and so the fleet went on to a second lap. Grattage extended his lead until the finish and likewise Snell extended his second place over the chasing pack. The fleet were indeed spread out but Craft took 3rd from George Love and Gordon Goldstone.
Thus Paul Grattage won the new Chris Black Grafham Icicle Trophy with two guns from Stuart Snell and Paul Craft. The Trophy was presented by Judith Black who kindly donated the trophy in memory of Chris, who sailed catamarans at Grafham for many years.
As the sailors departed it was agreed that the race team had done about as well as they could on a frustrating day of light winds.
This event concluded the Winter Traveller Series. The Summer TT Series starts on 18-19 April at Seasalter.
Full results are available from the Grafham Water web site.
Full Series Results available here