There was a brilliant turn out for the Sprint 15 Winter TT event at Draycote water on the 9th January 2016 . The prospect of a good wind forecast and favourable weather conditions resulted in 24 boats turning out for this start of year event. Twelve travellers hit the road before the crack of dawn from as far afield as Shanklin SC in the Isle of Wight to Seasalter, Netley, Queen Mary, Stewartby, Rutland and Grafham SC, to enjoy a really competitive day's sailing in near perfect conditions. A record twelve local boats from Draycote SC also turned out to compete on the day.
The racing format for the day was for two races back-to-back which made best use of the available day light hours for sailing. Luck wasn't with Draycote sailors on the day as Richard Knight, who is new to Sprint 15 sailing, capsized just before the start of the first race whilst testing the start line for bias, undeterred he went on to finish the first race and was unphased by his early bath.
The first race was sailed in a near perfect 12 knot southerly wind gusting to 16 knots. The fleet got away first time with no recalls and headed for the windward mark in a close group. Sheer volume of boat traffic at the windward mark and some more bad luck with wind shifts caused local sailor and club training coach, Dave Rowe to reach down onto the windward mark. After a struggle to extricate sailor and boat from the windward mark Dave returned to racing after completing the necessary penalty turns and hoping that no one noticed his minor racing incident. The first race was initially very tight with Liam Thom, Ed Tuite Dalton, David Groom, Stuart Snell and Paul Grattage breaking away from the rest of the fleet into a lead group competing for victory. The first race was eventually won by Shaklin ace Paul (The one armed bandit) Grattage. In what can only be described as a masterful display of boat handling and mind over pain, Paul somehow managed to sail the race with a painful elbow injury that meant he had to sail most of the race one handed! Reports from the water indicated that he made excellent use of his one good arm, feet and teeth to carve out an heroic victory in the first race.
A short break between races allowed sailors to take on board some much needed refreshment before starting the second race. Not wanting local club coach Dave Rowe to repeat his mistakes of the first race the rescue boat crew brought out a hot cup of tea to him on the water to refresh him for the second race.
The second race starting with a minor incident as local sailor Pete Slater was unlucky when his brilliantly conceived plan to make a break at the race start with a screaming port flyer abruptly came to a holt as he sailed into some heavy boat traffic and clipped the port start line marker. Local Draycote sailors Jan Elfring and Ed Tuite Dalton made maximum gain from starting on the slightly favoured port end of the start line and rounded the windward mark in first and second place respectively .The race saw many changes in leader as wind shifts and racing tactics played there part in driving Stuart Snell to the front of the pack. There was some close racing between Howard Hawkes, Steve Sawford, Ed Tuite Dalton, David Groom and Paul Grattage as they tried to track down Grafham ace Stuart Snell . Stuart held onto his lead and even the heroic efforts of Paul (the one armed bandit) Grattage could not overcome the silky skills of eventual race winner Stuart Snell . There was a mid fleet competition between Erling Holmberg and Gordan Goldstone which eventually saw Gordan finish just ahead of rival and mate Erling. Two first time sailors in the winter TT series (Roger Pratt and Anthony Clay - Draycote SCV) had notable races eventually finishing 14th and 10th overall: two sailors to watch in the future.
The overall event winner had to be calculated on time as Paul Grattage and Stuart Snell gained a 1st and 2nd places on the day in both races. The winner on the day by only 40 seconds was Paul Grattage. Sprint 15 racing is clearly thriving with competition close.
Full Series Results available here