On the 7th February Datchet Water Sailing Club hosted the latest in the Sprint 15 winter series. Attendance was slightly down due to various excuses notably skiing holidays, trailer failures and body failures whilst getting boat on trailer for the event! However 15 boats took part including 4 from the Isle of Wight 1 from Essex and 1 from Hampshire.
The day dawned mostly dry and sunny and slightly above freezing although the promised 20 knots of breeze was conspicuous by its absence. A leisurely start time of 12:30 allowed for catching up, rigging up and a substantial breakfast prior to attending the briefing.
Race Officer Adrian Parsons used his extensive Dart 18 experience to set a nigh on perfect Sprint 15 square course of the right dimensions to allow for races of the specified length to take place. His efficient on the water team minimised delays allowing the back to back races to be completed before anyone really felt the cold.
Most places were won or lost on the beat which was generally one sided but not always so given the shifts and the need to be in the right place at the right time to benefit from the gusts. However make a good start, sit still and sail high in clear air not surprisingly seemed to work best. The reaches and run were more processional but tactics on the run could produce dividends.
The normal culprits were at the front with Stuart Snell winning overall with a perfect score line in his now old new boat, Steve Sawford coming second in his old new boat with a consistent but not so perfect score line and then Paul Grattage in his new new boat that was attending its first event. Notice should also be made of the fact that George Stephen marked his return to the Sprint circuit by coming fourth only on countback having shared 3rd and 4th places with Paul. These four were well clear both in terms of points and on the water from the other competitors.
Most of the fleet had sob stories with regard to losing out in the quite fickle breeze but particular mention has to be made to the hole Erling Holmberg and David Groom fell into at the windward mark on the second round of Race Two during which they both lost out on “safe” 4th and 5th places to the chasing pack who gained well over 100 metres before sailing round them and then the windward mark before disappearing down the reach.
Reference should also be made to a very gentlemanly taking of a penalty by Paul Craft at this point having almost but not quite rammed one of the stalled boats and the merciless use of a starboard approach by Erling on the following lap to get revenge on those who had so unfairly overtaken him the lap before.
All in all a very good day and a chance for the 15’s to show to the youth Spitfire and Nacre sailing teams who were having a training weekend what they can probably look forward to sailing at some point in their careers! All in all an excellent day and many thanks to the Team at Datchet both on land and on the water for making it so.
Roil on the final winter series event now scheduled for Graham Water Sailing Club on the 22nd March.
Report Author David Groom Sprint 15 1714
Full Series Results available here