Stewartby Sailing Club was the setting for the first event of the Sprint 15 Winter Series. 10 visitors arrived early morning to be greeted with wind and rain. At 10:00am the briefing was held to decide on the day’s events as the weather reports were discussed.
It was on. 8 out of the 10 visitors decided to race, together with 5 home club boats making a total of 13 boats for the start line.
The gun went at 11:00 am sharp and the race had started with winds in the mid-20s and gusts hitting 30, Robert Finch from Stewartby got to the windward mark first closely followed by his younger brother Jon, and hot on his heels Steve Sawford. The cats raced around the course, some capsizing as they went. Amazingly, Mark Norman managed to lose his boot only to pick it up on the next lap as he sailed by. Race positions changed through the pack with Steve Sawford getting past Jon Finch and eventually Robert Finch by the fourth lap. The rest of the race was about avoiding capsized boats and capsize. The race was over and 12 boats finished, all sailors either grinning with excitement or grimacing with pain. First was Steve, followed by Robert and then his younger brother Jon.
Race 2 was to start within a few minutes, but with the wind was steadily increasing reaching 30 knots and gusts hitting 40, the committee boat drifted off two minutes from the gun. Postponed and once re-positioned the race was on. The cats powered over the line, this time there were 10. First mark honours went to Steve Sawford, followed by Robert Finch, Paul Craft and Erling Holmberg. Liam Thom took a tumble early on and unfortunately stayed that way for the rest of the race. Robert closely followed in the second lap and was seen doing a back flip with twist off the back of his boat or was he baling out?, (we will never know). With ever increasing winds and boats dotted around the lake upside down, Paul Craft, Jon Finch, Mark Norman & Erling tussled for positions behind race leader Steve Sawford. Then it was over. The race officer shortened the course and finished the race early to avoid any mishaps. First place went to Steve, closely followed by Jon Finch and Paul Craft who lost out by a dodgy tack to take him over the line.
A total of seven heroes finished the race and headed back to the shore. Best capsize award was a split decision between Andy Bunyan, Paul Craft and Mark Hollis all earning high scores for technique, posture and difficulty level.
Overall the event was won convincingly by Steve Sawford with an impressive two firsts. The next traveller meeting is Oxford Sailing Club on the 5th December.
Pictures by Alan Howie-Wood, Rob Love and Valerie Anthony
Full Series Results available here