Thirty-nine Sprint 15 sailors gathered at the home of the North Devon Yacht Club at Instow on Friday the 14th September for the Sport Nationals – the two day regatta for single-handed Sprint 15 catamarans with main, jib and trapeze. This was the highest turnout in almost 10 years, with a record 8 youth sailors!
Due to an early tide, the first race was set off promptly 8.30am by race officer Jonathan Miles in a force 3-4 south westerly with triangular courses in challenging tides. Local NDYC sailor, Anthony Gray, led the first race from start to gun, giving local fans much encouragement. Sam Heaton (NDYC), David Grant (NDYC) and Liam Thom (Shanklin SC ) were fighting it out for second.
Thom got ahead on the final leg to take second with David Grant finishing third.
Sam Heaton got the best of the starts in the second race and was unlucky to be passed by Tom Gall (Warsash SC in the last minute who took the honours on the line.
The third and final race of the day was sailed with a strong outgoing tide. Reigning Youth National Champion Hector Bunclark (NDYC) led most of the race, at one point with dad Liam making it a 1-2 Bunclark, only to be defeated by the tide at the last leeward mark. The race was taken by Fraser Manning (NDYC) from Paul Grattage and Steve Sawford to ensure honours were well spread around the fleet at the end of day 1.
There was an excellent, very well-attended barbecue on the Saturday night, with most stocking up for the predicted high winds on Sunday. Overnight positions were; Thom first, Manning second and Heaton in third, all separated by just 3 points.
Sunday arrived with less wind than forecast, with a southerly force 4.
In race 4, after a general recall caused by a strong incoming tide, Grattage got away well and led from start to finish ahead of Thom and Gray. Many were wondering if this was going to be a great Grattage comeback.
Race 5 was where the battle for the title really mounted. Manning was led by Thom, who couldn’t be caught. Manning fought off Grattage to come home in second place with Grattage in third.
In the final race, Manning again led, knowing a win would give him the title. Thom skilfully passed Manning but Manning took back the lead on the beat. Thom passed again and with that took the win and with it the National Championship. Manning finished second with Gray third.
The last day had shuffled the overall scores, knocking Sam Heaton into sixth behind Steve Sawford (in fifth) and Paul Grattage into third. Anthony Gray just missed out on the podium, finishing fourth.
Hector Bunclark retained the Youth National title with a creditable 8th place overall being in the top 10 in every race, Yvonne Pike (Shanklin SC) was first lady and George Love was the first over sixty helmsman. Anthony Gray and Aaron Kirby (Royal Western Sailing Club) took the Pro-Am trophy.
The event was supported by several sponsors of the event, including Windsport and The Commodore Hotel.
Report by Fraser Manning. Pictures by Martin Penny
Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions