Thirty-two Sprint 15 sailors gathered at the home of the North Devon Yacht Club on Friday the 10th June for the Sport Nationals – the three day regatta for single-handed Sprint 15 catamarans with main, jib and trapeze.
The first race was set off promptly by race officer Gordon Smith in a force 2-3 south easterly with the course being an alternating, port-handed triangle-sausage. The defending champion, Paul Grattage from Shanklin Sailing Club, started the regatta with real intent and led the first race from start to gun. Fraser Manning and Liam Thom were fighting out for second until George Love, on his brand new boat, got a lift on the third beat and stormed ahead. Thom got ahead of Love on the final downwind leg to take second with Alex Raymond finishing third.
Fraser Manning got the best of the starts in the second race ahead of Paul Chatfield with Paul Grattage leaving it to the last minute to take the honours on the line.
There was an excellent, very well attended barbecue on the Friday night, eaten in the club house as the rain came down.
There was even less wind on the Saturday and the race officer decided to spice things up with a starboard rounding course.
In race 3, Steve Sawford got away well and led from start to finish ahead of Sam Heaton, George Love and Fraser Manning. Paul Grattage had to fight his way out of the body of the fleet to finish second in front of Love.
There was a lot of traffic at the committee boat for the start of race 4 but Grattage got away cleanly and made the best of the light conditions, taking the gun ahead of Paul Chatfield, Fraser Manning and Steve Sawford.
The wind was fading, despite the forecast, for race 5. Local sailing legend, Liam Bunclark set his watch wrongly and absolutely nailed the start well ahead of the pack, many of whom were rafted together. However it was Roger Bone who sailed the fastest towards Instow beach and made the windward mark first ahead of Simon Fleet, Paul Grattage and Liam Thom, the latter two hitting the buoy and doing their turns with the ebb tide. The wind dropped to less than the speed of the tide and the rest of the fleet struggled to get round the first mark while the leading boats were nearly at the leeward mark. Bone took the race ahead of Grattage, Fleet and Thom with only four more boats managing to finish inside the time limit.
With three wins and two seconds, Paul had retained the championship with a day to spare.
On Saturday evening there was a quiz and a superb three course meal in the club house.
The prospects for the final day of racing looked very promising with the flags starting to wave properly for the first time in the regatta. The sailors were relieved to see a red flag (all marks to port) on the committee boat but to keep us on our toes the pin end was on the right and you had to start on port.
Race 6 started on time and Liam Thom got away well in 10 knots of westerly wind, heading out on port tack towards the Atlantic followed by Fraser Manning and Paul Grattage. The lead changed frequently in the following four laps with Manning slipping back to let Grattage and Thom battle it out. Thom had the lead on the final leg but Grattage managed to overtake on the line to win by a short head. Manning came third while Paul Chatfield helped out Anthony Gray and Steve Sawford by hitting the finish buoy.
The (right hand) pin end buoy was moved upwind for the start of race 7 to allow a starboard start. Paul Grattage headed to the left of the course while Liam Thom and Dart 18 expert David Groom tacked early and went to the right. Grattage got a good breeze along the Appledore sea wall and rounded first ahead of Liam Thom with Steve Sawford just behind. On the second upwind leg, the breeze picked up and the leading sailors all got out on the wire for the first time in the event. Grattage maintained his lead to the finish but Sawford and Anthony Gray both got ahead of Thom and stayed there.
All the races were started promptly with no recalls which is a great tribute to the race officer and the politeness of Sprint 15 sailors.
The change in wind conditions on the last day had shuffled the overall scores and Steve Sawford overtook Fraser Manning with Liam Thom fourth, Paul Chatfield fifth, Roger Bone sixth and George Love seventh.
Hector Bunclark was the first junior sailor and Roger Bone was the first over sixty helmsman. George Love and Eamonn Browne won the Pro-Am trophy.
Report by Liam Thom
Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions