The Marconi SC Sprint 15 traveller event took place on 26/27 September with 12 competitors taking part.
Saturday was a lovely sunny day but lighter winds than the fleet would normally prefer, so the race officer set the race course in the bay to give some respite from the local tide.
The first race saw the fleet converge on the windward mark in light conditions, making manoeuvrability slow and generally favouring those who did not find themselves tacking on the mark. Paul Grattage pulled clear, followed by David Ball with the rest of the fleet grouped behind. Following two laps of the square course, Paul and David retained their positions with Paul Craft taking third place.
The start of the second race saw the full fleet on the line and with two guns from the committee boat, a number of people returned to recross the line. Chris Tillyer, Paul Grattage and Jenny Ball got to the windward mark first but a windshadow from the land put Chris’ boat in irons, allowing much of the fleet to sail through. However, by taking a different line from the fleet on the downwind leg, Chris got himself back to the front of the fleet and had a hard fought race with Paul Grattage who eventually took the win with Chris second and Jim Bowie third.
A wind shift necessitated the course to be moved and a resulting port hand bias on the start line led to a bunching of most of the fleet on port at the pin end, resulting in a general recall. The line was tweaked and this time the fleet split between a port or starboard start. In the main body of the fleet, it was the tactics between mark 4 and the committee boat line that resulted in most of the changes of position – but Paul Grattage emerged in front, with Chris Tillyer second and David Ball third.
Sunday morning dawned with both sun and, more importantly, with the promised improved wind strength. This year, a different course was set for the traditional Marconi long distance race (as a joint club Bart’s Bash race was taking place round Osea Island). This year, the fleet set off down river, with a triangle course set around Ross Revenge - known better as the home of Radio Caroline – currently moored in the River Blackwater. The fleet split between the north and south shores to keep out of the main channel and tide – apart from Paul Craft who sailed mostly up the middle and still managed to make great progress against the fleet! As the fleet approached the windward mark, it transpired that the south bank paid off with Kevin Kirby getting round the mark with a healthy lead followed by Paul Craft and Howard Hawkes. The second leg was an exhilarating reach across the river, past Radio Caroline, followed by a run home with the tide and then a short tactical beat against the tide to cross the finish line. Kevin Kirby took first, followed by Paul Craft with Paul Grattage tacking out of the main channel at the finish to take third place with Howard Hawkes coming in fourth.
The favourable weather on Sunday and a fun race made up for the lighter airs on Saturday and resulted in a good weekend's sailing.
Full Series Results available here