The Chris Black Sprint 15 Icicle Winter Event at Grafham
10 travellers joined 7 locals for the final event of the Sprint 15 Winter Series at Grafham on Sunday 20 March. It was a lovely clear day but a little chilly in the force 2-4 Northerly breeze. The race officer, Andy Baldock, and his team set a trapezoidal course at the eastern end of the lake as an RS Open meeting had bagged the bigger and windier West end. In the first race most of the fleet stayed on starboard to take the windier looking left side but at the windward mark Stuart Snell took the lead from Paul Grattage, both of whom had come from the right of the course. This pair were followed by Thomas Sandal, Simon Farthing and George Love, who was sailing his brand new boat for the first time. On the run the chasing Club Flying Fifteen Fleet caught up with most of the Sprint 15s but the leading few boats held them off, Snell sailing low and Grattage sailing high. These guys held positions until the second beat when Sandal stole the advantage from Snell, Grattage and Love thus showing that all 3 new boats were in the front 4 positions. Howard Hawkes followed by S Farthing, Steve Sawford and David Groom remained in touch just behind the first 4. The large windshifts on the beat were very hard to read and made huge difference. On the last beat it was Grattage and Hawkes who prospered taking first and second from Snell, S Farthing and Sandal. Snell worked his way back to second on the run but at the gun Grattage was a comfortable first from Snell, Hawkes, Sandal and S Farthing.
Between races the course was adjusted as the wind had move to the east. In the second race Richard Philpott was leading at the windward mark from Steve Sawford and it was a nice touch to see Chris Black’s old boat leading a race in an event named after him. These positions were helped a little by a few of the travellers rounding the wrong (further) windward mark, perhaps confused by the course adjustment. Snell had tried to repeat his right side first beat of the first race but ended up in a distant 7th place in race 2. On the run it transpired that Stuart was leading the family convoy in 7th place followed by son in law, Simon (Farthing) in 8th and daughter Catheryn 9th. Philpott held on to the lead for a lap but inevitably lost it on the second beat to Steve Sawford and Grattage. At the end of the second lap a large hole in the wind developed just downwind of the start-finish line and the fleet sailed straight into it. For a time it looked like the race team would shorten but then the wind filled in from the left and rescued the last lap and Snell’s day taking him from a distant 6th place to a close second behind Grattage. So the last lap had a familiar look with Grattage taking the gun from Snell, Sandall, Sawford and Love.
Thus Grattage (1,1) won the event from Snell (2,2), Sandal (4,3) and Hawkes (3,7).
George Love had clearly moved up a gear with his new boat and it was good to see that the Grafham Fleet ‘old guard’ had not forgotten how to sail...
This event concluded the Winter Traveller Series. The Summer TT Series starts on 23-24 April at Marconi..
R1 - Sprint 15 Fleet
Start: Start 1, Finishes: Finish time, Time: 11.03.00
R2 - Sprint 15 Fleet
Start: Start 1, Finishes: Finish time, Time: 12.13.00
Full Series Results available here