The Sprint 15 Inland Championships took place at the Grafham Cat Open on 19-20 October. 25 boats took part with strong teams from Marconi (8 boats), Stone (4) Thorpe Bay (3), Grafham (3) and Carsington (2). The competitor who travelled furthest to compete was Liam Bunclark from North Devon Yacht Club.
On the Saturday the racing took place on a bright sunny day in a force 2-3 SW breeze. Race officer, Nigel Denchfield got proceedings off on time setting the favoured trapezoidal course. In the first race Nigel James took a port flyer at the start and successfully crossed the fleet leaving Steve Sawford kicking himself, because he had been in front of Nigel, but had turned back because he “could not believe his luck” without his watch. By the windward mark Stuart Snell was in the lead followed by Mark Aldridge, Jim Bowie and James. Snell was overtaken by Aldridge on the run and Aldridge led the charge for the next lap or so. The wind was shifty and over the following laps both Jenny Ball and Ed Tuite Dalton worked their way up the order. At the gun Snell had recovered the lead from Aldridge, J Ball, Tuite Dalton and Bowie.
The second race followed quickly after the first. Snell made no mistakes and led from start to finish. J Ball and brother, David Ball, also held station for the whole race in second and third places. Further back there was some place changing with Steve Healy, Steve Sawford, Aldridge and Rob Bailey tousling for the minor places. At the finish Sawford took fourth from Healy and Aldridge.
The third race followed after a minor adjustment to the course. Tuite Dalton was first to the windward mark after choosing the right side of the beat and quickly opened out a big lead from Bailey, Sawford Snell and Simon Hare, who was the sole competitor sailing Sport mode. By the second lap Snell had recovered to second place which he then held to the gun but was unable to catch Tuite Dalton who was sailing well. At the gun J Ball had taken third place from Aldridge, D Ball and Bailey.
The fleet retired to the bar for a hot shower, hot meal and a drink, happy to have enjoyed some close racing in a fickle breeze.
On Sunday another 3 races were scheduled to be run back to back. The conditions were more overcast and the wind direction had changed to a NW breeze but the strength was similar – a force 2-3.
Race four started on time and J Ball opened out a huge lead on the first beat by taking the right hand side of the course while most of the others stayed on the left. The lead had increased further by the second lap when J Ball led a distant Healy, Snell, George Love and Tuite Dalton. Throughout the race J Ball maintained her big lead but behind things were hotting up. Big gains were to be made occasionally, by keeping to the right hand side of the beat but it was not always the case. Someway behind J Ball, a group of 3 (Healy, Snell and Tuite Dalton) were trading places and then a little further back another group of Geoff Tindale, Aldridge, Sawford, Love and D Ball were battling for places. At the gun J Ball had maintained her lead but Snell took second from Tuite Dalton and Healy.
In race five D Ball led from the line but Sawford was first windward mark. On the second beat Tuite Dalton took advantage of the RHS and displaced Sawford in the lead whilst J Ball caught up with the leaders. These 3 stretched their lead over the chasing pack over the next 2 laps. On the fourth beat Tuite Dalton lost the lead by sailing up the middle of the course whilst those chasing sailed to the layline on the RHS. Sawford took the gun from J Ball and Snell, who overhauled Tuite Dalton on the last reach before the finish.
In the last race James attempted another port flyer but was not so lucky and the sequence at the first windward mark was Snell, Aldridge and D Ball. D Ball took second place by tacking up the middle of the second beat while Aldridge kept right. These 3 held station until the gun and Love sailing his best race of the weekend took 4th from Sawford and J Ball (who had her progress checked with a penalty turn at the last windward mark).
Thus at the end of a good weekends sailing, Stuart Snell was the clear winner (and Inland Champion) followed by Jenny Ball, Ed Tuite Dalton, and Mark Aldridge. The Youth Trophy was retained by Jason Clarke and Abbie Clarke got a special merit award for a strong performance as the youngest competitor. For other results see below.
Nigel Denchfield and the Grafham Club got thanked for good courses, efficient race management and an excellent event. Surprisingly all 6 races approx. 45minute races comprised of 4 laps.
This event concluded the Summer Traveller series and the fleet move on to the Winter Traveller series which starts at Stewartby on 2 November.
Top Grafham Boat: S Snell
Top Youth: J Clarke (Marconi)
Report by Bob Carter
Full Series Results available here