Nine boats took part in the Sprint 15 Teach In at Marconi on Saturday 7th April led by David Ball and Chris Tillyer. We were particularly pleased to welcome Armin from Brightlingsea who has just bought Gordon Deuce’s boat and ventured to Marconi for his first ever Sprint 15 sail. Also joining us was Jemma Clarke from Marconi who had her first proper sail in a Sprint 15, alongside her Dad and her brother and we hope she will join the fleet too! Donald Sloan travelled down from Felixtowe Ferry as did Rob Wilson from Stone – together with a home fleet.
Once the boats were rigged, the team retired to the galley for a briefing and bacon rolls. After a session from Chris and David on key aspects of sailing a Sprint 15 and race starts – the fleet took to the water.
Pausing briefly to wait for Nigel James to right a capsize - a series of committee boat races were run by Jenny Ball and Rob Wilson in near perfect sailing conditions. Starts were filmed and Go Pros were deployed on RIBs. Which would have provided really useful training material if only Chris knew which way round a Go Pro works. Instead, we ended up with multiple videos of half of Chris’ face resembling that film, the Blair Witch Project. David briefly crewed for Armin to help him see the key differences with his previous boat (a Wayfarer) – but it was not long before Armin was comfortably sailing round on his own and getting to grips with the boat. Donald put in some great races and showed the way round on multiple occasions with Jason Clarke putting in some great starts. Once Jenny and Rob had finished the Easter Egg they brought out with them – they decided it was lunch time, so the fleet headed ashore.
Over lunch, it was discussed that the fleet were very polite pre-start and needed to (a) get much closer to the line and (b) exercise their windward boat keeps clear rights. So with words about positioning for the line, coffin corner and getting rammed into the committee boat ringing in their ears – the fleet set off again in slightly breezier conditions.
Pausing briefly to wait for Nigel James to right a second capsize – the first race got underway with fleet members positioning themselves much closer to the line, clearly taking on board the feedback over lunch.
Pausing briefly to wait for Nigel to right a third capsize and for the Rib to tow Antony Bailey’s boat back when his forestay rope broke and the mast came down – the next race got underway. Andy Perks led the race from start to finish with a convincing win – particularly as a number of the fleet experienced that great thing when its breezy enough for a Sprint 15 to be difficult to tack and duly get parked up.
Moving into the last race – the fleet were regaled with Donald calling “up! Up!” really loudly on the rest of the fleet just as he had been taught to do at lunchtime. Unfortunately, he got so carried away that he sailed straight over the line 10 seconds early so had to go round again. Jason got a split second perfect start and led all the way round to win the race. Most importantly, he beat his Dad. The fleet then headed home for a final de-brief over tea and cake and a short lesson in tacking and promises that any footage not basically just featuring Chris’ right ear would be posted somewhere for forensic review and homework for all participants at a later date.
And as an aside, Nigel rather nobly makes a donation to the RNLI every time he capsizes. Based on today’s performance, we can expect to be invited to the launch ceremony of RNLB The Nigel James at some point prior to the end of the season.
Thanks to David and Chris for leading the session, to the support boat crew and galley team and to everyone who took part in the day – it was a fantastic day on the water.
Sprint 15 teach in at Marconi