29 competitors took part in the first 2017 Sprint 15 Summer TT at Marconi SC on 8th and 9th April including an impressive home turnout of 14 boats. We were pleased to welcome a number of new faces – who had participated in the Association Training Day run by Howard Hawkes the previous weekend and also the local new fleet from Stone SC. We were also pleased to welcome Nigel and Fiona Denchfield as guest Races Officers for the event.
The total absence of wind on Saturday morning resulted in a postponement until after lunch and even then, most of the fleet were towed to the start area where they beached on Osea Island and chatted in the sunshine waiting for some wind. But fill in it did and provided an afternoon of great sailing conditions.
Race 1 saw the majority of the fleet start on starboard, enjoying a decent blast off the line. A closely fought race at the front quickly emerged between Liam Thom, George Love and Paul Grattage. The beat on the second lap saw the fleet split, with some of those tacking off to the left hand side of the fleet making better progress than those who stood on but the run also proved very tactical, managing the impact of the tide and positioning coming into marks three and four vs the rest of the fleet. After four laps, George Love just pipped Liam Thom into first place, followed by Paul Grattage, Chris Tillyer and David Ball.
On Race 2, Chris Tillyer and Jenny Ball managed a clear port hand start, regrouping with Liam Thom, George Love and Paul Grattage at the first mark. On the second lap, Jenny benefitted from tacking off to the left hand side, coming into the windward mark in second place behind George and just ahead of Liam and Paul. At the end of the downwind leg, Jenny managed to establish a lead which she held onto for the rest of the race, followed by Liam, Paul, George and Chris.
Race 3, with the main fleet sliding down to the favoured pin end on starboard, the port hand starters did not fare well, having to duck most of the fleet. Paul Grattage quickly established a clear lead chased by Liam, Kevin Kirby, David Ball and Andy and Finley Webb. The tide had just turned seeing the fleet split much more on the beat and the downwind legs. Paul's lead was unassailable and he took the win followed by Andy and Finley, Kevin, Liam, David and George.
The fleet headed in after a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon's sailing for a well-deserved evening meal.
Sunday morning's weather was even more unseasonably warm and sunny, which was very pleasant but again, the wind delayed its appearance. The Race team headed out anyway and after about an hour's delay, the wind appeared - fairly light from the south but enough to get decent racing. The fleet were joined by four additional sailors lured out by the sunshine.
Race 4 – was another trapezoid course, watched by lots of spectators moored off Osea Island beach. Liam, Paul and David got off to a good start with the rest of the fleet taking different routes up the beat, trying to find the best wind and cross the incoming tide. Liam managed to hold off Paul to take the win with David in third, followed by George Love and Peter Richardson.
The final race was the now legendary long distance race round the islands. This was shortened to just Osea Island as the delayed start meant there was not enough tide to go round Northey as well. After a reaching start, the fleet headed downwind to the western end of Osea Island, trying to position themselves for the best of the wind but out of the ebbing tide. Liam rounded the end of the island first, closely followed by Paul, Kevin, Andy & Finley, David and Jenny with the rest of the fleet bunched closely just behind them. The wind round the back of the island was a little more shifty causing the fleet to split across the river, depending on the lifts or headers they were able to take. At the eastern end of the island, some of the locals tacked across to get into the main tide and try to gain an advantage on the way up to the turning mark. A number of visitors followed the locals but those who stood on were benefitted with better breeze and made significant gains by the time they reached the turning mark. Liam and Andy & Finley led round, followed by Paul, Bill Hurr sailing sport mode, David, Jenny, Andy Perks and Jim Bowie. On the final leg back to the committee boat, it was definitely a case of following the breeze rather than worrying about the tide and heading over to the left picked up the best of the wind. Liam picked up his second win of the day and the overall TT, followed by Andy & Finley, Jenny, David, Jim and Paul.
The fleet headed home after a great weekend of sailing! Big thanks go to the Race Officer, Race Committee and Support boat crews who had to set up and deliver 5 races in difficult conditions whilst we all sunbathed waiting for the wind. Congratulations to our youth helm, Jason Clarke from Marconi and to Andrew Perks from Marconi winning the Chairman's Award for an impressive long distance result, despite only starting to sail a Sprint 15 last year.
1st – Liam Thom, Shanklin
Youth Trophy - Jason Clarke, Marconi
Full Series Results available here