Sunday 1st December saw the second Sprint 15 Winter 2019/20 TT take place at Rutland. And it was most definitely winter temperatures as the nine competitors rigged up, comparing notes on how much colder Rutland was vs the temperature when they left home that morning.
But as an army of young sailors were taking to the water in 29ers (many of whom appeared to have actually spent the night in camper vans) - we could not be seen to wimp out. And there was a decent breeze for sailing with plenty of sunshine. And at least we were not the poor souls on the committee boat and safety boats who looked very cold indeed.
The fleet set off – pleased to have Charles Watson able to join us again and also to welcome local sailor Phil Neal back to the Sprint 15 fold.
In line with Rutland tradition, the course was written up on a blackboard on the back of the committee boat – and was largely incomprehensible to any of the visitors who were surrounded by a maze of race marks, anyone of which could have been 20, ODM or IDM – although we did at least clock 17 exactly where the fourth mark should be behind the start/finish gate. Jenny Ball had even upgraded the 50p map she had bought in February to a £2 colour version but could see no sign of at least two of the marks on it, no matter how many times Ray Gall asked her where they were.
Fortunately, Race officer Nic Streatfeild had decided to set the club racing fleet off first and kindly set them the same course – so for the first lap, we kept one eye on our race and one eye on theirs to work out which buoy they were going to next. Nigel James braved a port hand flyer off the first start and although had to duck a few boats, made a clear enough start to lead those in the fleet who tacked off onto port to follow him. Ed Tuite-Dalton and Jenny stayed out to the left where there was slightly more pressure and Ed rounded the windward mark in the lead, followed by Nigel, Jenny, Steve Sawford, Charles Watson and the rest of the fleet. Fortunately, the club fleet had reached Marks 2 and 3 by now so the fleet knew where they were supposed to be going. On the second lap, Jenny and Nigel stayed left up the beat, allowing them to edge in front of Ed. After three laps, Jenny took the win, followed by Nigel, Ed, Charles and Steve.
The Race Officer managed an impressively quick turn round, despite the mixture of fleets in the club racing. Steve pulled off a clear port hand start to establish an early lead. Ray unfortunately did not manage to get a clear port start and was obliged to tack back onto starboard at the pin end to avoid Phil Neal. And then parked on top of the pin end buoy. Which must have seemed an interesting approach to the Race Management team at the other end of the line. As before, Steve, George Love, Nigel and others headed right whilst Ed, Jenny and Charles headed left. Steve had a clear lead at the windward mark with the rest of the fleet bunched behind. On the downwind leg, most of the fleet stayed right, but Jenny gybed up the middle of the course picking up a slightly stronger breeze off the headland and moving her into second place behind Steve. Nigel unfortunately knocked a mark causing him to lose valuable places. By the final lap, Jenny had moved into the lead to take the win followed by Steve, Ed, Charles and Pete Richardson.
The wind had softened slightly for the final race but Steve again got a clear port hand start along with Nigel. By the downwind leg, Steve had a good lead, followed by Ed, Jenny and Nigel. The wind had shifted sufficiently for the fleet to pass through the gate without tacking and heading down the right hand side of the course. However, Jenny made the break and tacked off to the left, Nigel followed suit. Not for the first time, this paid off and Jenny came into the windward mark in second place ahead of Ed and Nigel had moved into fourth. Steve led into the third lap with Jenny covering his track up the right hand side of the beat. The wind by now was a bit more variable and Jenny got enough of an extra puff to gain an inside overlap. Steve was pushing up all the time but Jenny was able to hold on long enough to be able to tack for the windward mark and squeeze into the lead. Jenny managed to just about hold Steve off for the rest of the lap to take the win, with Ed in third, Nigel fourth and George in fifth. Nigel had just done enough to take third place overall from Ed on countback.
The fleet headed in after three great races – pleased to have had both wind and sun and a good few hours on the water – and only slightly daunted at how rammed the boat park, car park and changing rooms appeared to be with all the 29er sailors who had come ashore at the same time.
Big thanks to Matt Lee and the Rutland team for hosting the event and a special thanks to Nic Streatfeild, Race Officer, who managed to run three great races very efficiently and get everyone home before the enjoyment could be overtaken by the cold!
Report by Jenny Ball.
Full Series Results available here