The second Summer TT of 2019 saw the Sprint 15s being hosted at a new venue, Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club in North Kent. The fleet are no strangers to this part of the world having had events at Herne Bay, Whitstable and Seasalter so it was good to be back.
The first hurdle was finding somewhere to put a Sprint 15. The compound, filled with a healthy number of club boats is, as estate agents would say, “compact and bijoux” for visiting boats and left our early arrivals on Friday afternoon scratching their heads as there was literally no space available. However, the club cleared the compound creating some space for Sprint 15s and also a visiting fleet of Cherubs – who in theory would not need much room – but need to lie down to put their sails up, so actually take up more room than we do.
The forecast was for light winds all weekend – but with warm temperatures also due, both fleets welcomed the RO’s decision to postpone the start to see if a sea breeze materialised. This allowed time to chat with the Cherub fleet who were a great crowd. The Cherub Class has a long heritage – older than the Sprint 15 – but as a development class, has evolved into requiring vast quantities of string and carbon in a way that, mercifully, the Sprint 15 never has. We took the opportunity of the postponement to explain to our Chairman who asked “where is the island” – that we were actually on it and that big concrete hill he drove over was, in fact, a bridge. But that’s lake sailors for you. We also tried to explain to Paul Grattage that a light wind and a few knots of tide doth not a cancelled-event make as any of us who sail on real rivers will know. And we also enjoyed watching one of our not-so large members, Liam Thom, help shovel extremely heavy shingle off the slipway and be totally outgunned by a local club member twice his age and somewhat smaller. We also admired Simon Hare’s tenacity at persisting with Sport Mode in such conditions. Exhausted with all this on shore activity, we set out for a 1pm start.
The breeze was light but perfectly sailable as the fleet set off the first start against the still incoming tide. Paul had taken careful soundings from the locals and learned that the tide turned inshore first – so he headed right. In a much less sophisticated manner, Jenny Ball decided the water was slightly darker and perhaps the breeze therefore slightly stronger out to the left. The rest of the fleet went up the middle. Jenny got to the windward mark first but with Paul close behind. The tide and slight wind variations across the course also made for a good tactical downwind leg with Paul edging into the lead. Paul held on to take the first race win with Jenny second and Liam third. By Race 2, enough of a sea breeze had filled in to allow good sailing for us and very photogenic sailing for the Cherubs, particularly with their kites up. Paul, Jenny and Liam had a good contest at the front of the fleet, but once Liam had established a lead, he proved unassailable – even when he fell off his boat on the final leg. Despite, or because of, bending his tiller extension in half, Liam stayed attached to the boat, got back on and went on to win with Jenny second and Paul third. The third race saw a return to form with Jenny and Liam chasing Paul round the course. Yvonne Pike, in the maiden sail in her new boat, 1965, was also having a great event and came in fourth ahead of local sailor Ian Brunger.
The fleet headed in for the day and had an enjoyable evening meal. The majority of us disappointed the Cherubs as we all needed to drive to our respective accommodation – but Paul flew the flag for the Sprint 15s by staying in the bar with them until they went to bed.
On Sunday, the wind was lighter and no sea breeze appeared – so it was a tactical day in terms of managing the tide and working out where there was slightly more pressure across the course. Following the first start, Jenny and Ed stood on to the left hand corner which did not pay at all as they watched the rest of the fleet who had gone right or up the middle reach the windward mark first. As is often the case, they should have followed the locals which Liam had done and was in the lead. On the downwind leg, it turned out that – unbeknownst to all the other clubs – Shanklin were at a team racing event. At mark three, Yvonne massively (but legitimately) took out Ian from Isle of Sheppey and in so doing knocked fellow IoSC sailor Joe Baker off his stride and allowed Paul and Jenny through in front of them. Paul and Jenny returned the favour by sneaking past Yvonne on the upwind leg and go in pursuit of Liam. On the final upwind leg to the finish line, Liam found himself in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to cover Paul or Jenny who both opted for different tracks to the finish. Paul managed to sneak through to take the win, with Liam second, Jenny third, Yvonne fourth, Ian fifth and fellow local Derek Darley in sixth.
As is the way with sailing, in Race 5 – those who tacked off to the right based on the learnings of Race 4, lost out to the rest of the fleet who had gone left or up the middle. Paul edged into the lead at the windward mark followed by Jenny and Liam. Ed, who had had a difficult start, got back up the fleet to take fourth. By the end of Race 5, the wind was still light and had shifted direction leading the Race Office to completely re-set all the marks and the committee boat. Mercifully, he also pulled all the marks in to make a shorter distance travelled. The new start line allowed Jenny to make a clear port hand start, although Paul had some difficulties trying to do the same. However, Jenny tacked too early for the windward mark which allowed Paul and Liam to get through in front. Despite multiple different approaches on the upwind and downwind legs – the positions remained unchanged , followed by Ed, Ian and Yvonne.
The fleet headed in, having completed all six races which is more than the forecast might have indicated!
Ian Brunger – winner of the Chairman’s Award for being team-raced off the course by Shanklin, even though it was not a team racing event. And for stepping on to a Sprint 15 from his normal boat to take part in this event.
Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Rating system: PY, Entries: 9, Scoring system: Appendix A
Full Series Results available here