Stone Sailing Club in Essex on the Blackwater Estuary was the host club for the first Sprint 15 event of 2021.
Team Marconi’s fleet of thirteen boats sailed the short trip to their next door club, and the total of 25 competitors were blessed with a very good breeze of a chilly 11-16 knots from the east in glorious sunshine. Perfect conditions for the host club Race Officer Wendy Robinson to set a trapezoid course using the club fixed line. Ideal situation given the current Covid restrictions and no committee boat racing able to be arranged.
Race 1 got under way with the slight advantage being mid line / inshore as opposed to line limit buoy end with the stronger tide out there and flowing in the direction of the first mark. The tide was at its height and gave plenty of space on the river to plot a course through the unique short deep chop experienced on this estuary in such conditions.
Three laps of the course were sailed taking the leader around 40 minutes. Current National Champion, Chris Tillyer from Thorpe Bay led to start with, but Jenny Ball from Marconi managed to get past on lap two to take the race win, with Chris in second and Keith Persin from Thorpe Bay sailing an excellent race to come in third. Local sailor Geoff Tindale came fourth and Jim Bowie, also from Thorpe Bay, came fifth.
Race 2 saw slight change of start advantage and a bit more breeze in the middle of the river by the line limit buoy, this was to the advantage of local sailors Geoff Tindale, Skip Atkins and Roger Brown who started very close to limit buoy and got away into the advantage of the stronger tide. Skip rounded the windward mark 1st just ahead of Geoff, Jenny and Chris. Using his many years of successful cat sailing skills, Geoff just got past Skip on leg 2. The tussle between Skip and Geoff continued on leg 3, taking each other to the left of the layline and arguably into the stronger, less favourable tide. Jenny took the opportunity to sneak through down the layline and reached mark 3 just ahead. Jenny was able to sail the rest of the race in clear air with a closely fought battle in the pack snapping at her heels. Geoff and Skip held on to second and third place respectively, with David Ball from Marconi in fourth and Gordon Deuce from Brightlingsea coming in fifth.
Race 3 saw the line advantage similar as race 2 but with a bit more wind along the line, there was less of an advantage at the buoy end. Chris joined Geoff and Skip right on the line limit buoy but unfortunately misjudged the line and was deemed OCS. The first beat was more balanced with some gaining better speed taking a slightly more inshore route without such a tide advantage but avoiding the steep chop. Jenny eventually managed to get ahead of Jason Clarke and Jon Pearse from Marconi and gave chase to Chris Tillyer who was in the lead. It was a close call with an overlap between the two boats on the finish line, but Jenny’s win was confirmed with Chris’ OCS – followed by Jason 2nd and Jon Pearse 3rd and David Ball in 4th.
So well done and congratulations to Jenny who sailed the perfect regatta with 3 bullets, congrats to Geoff Tindale, Stones very own Cat Sailing Guru who sailed superbly and with consistency to take 2nd overall and well done David Ball scoring 3rd overall.
Well done and thanks to all who attended and taking first steps out of the Covid restrictions to enjoy our great Sprint15 sport again!
A special thanks to Stone Sailing Club and their volunteers who made this happen both on the day, Race Team and Safety Boat Crew, and beforehand with all the Covid secure arrangements the event required.
Stone Sailing Club are looking forward to welcoming the Sprint 15 fleet back again soon with any future events including less restrictions, and a chance for the inclusion of a good social event something they are renowned for!!
A big thank you also to the competitors who supported the event. To those who travelled from Queen Mary, Brightlingsea and Thorpe Bay by road, to the armada who travelled from Marconi by water as well as the local fleet. We were particularly delighted to welcome youth sailors Jason Clarke, George Reid and Abbie Clarke – plus Ray Lowther from Marconi taking part in his first ever Sprint 15 TT having only joined the fleet recently.
Report by Skip Atkins
Full Series Results available here