As the storm clouds gathered over the Derbyshire countryside an intrepid bunch of dedicated TT racers assembled on the shores of Carsington for the penultimate event of the summer series.
Despite COVID confusion and panic buying at the pumps travellers came from as far as North Devon, Worthing and the Marconi SC in Essex. Giving an eventual fleet of 17 sailing Unarig, one Sport Mode boat and one two up on the start line for the two day event.
The race officer Henry Wright ably assisted by his team Keith and Liz Appleby laid out a superb trapezoid course which enabled two days of exciting competition. Six races, four on Saturday and two on Sunday were completed despite gusty winds and torrential rain on Saturday and force 7 gusts on Sunday in sunny conditions.
The conditions made for exciting racing with some notable performances across the fleet and some memorable moments.
In Race 1, Jason Clarke (Marconi) nailed a superb start and demonstrated his consummate skill by leading the whole way until he was knocked over by a most viscous gust a few yards short of the finish. The chasing pack alerted, Ed Tuite Dalton (Draycote) took the gun from Jenny Ball (Marconi) and Hector Bunclark (North Devon Yacht Club).
Race 2 and Jan Elfring (Draycote) was starting to revel in the conditions which saw him finish a close second to Jenny with Hector again in third spot.
Race 3 was a battle at the head of the fleet from the young contenders. Jason was back in great form and finished a close second to Hector. Ed and Jenny were keeping consistent pace in third and fourth respectively.
Race 4, the last on Saturday, and the cold, wet and windy conditions were starting to have a strength sapping effect. Ed took the bullet from Hector and Jan before the fleet headed for home.
Sunday dawned sunny, still cold and the wind had increased with even fiercer gusts.
Race 5 and Jenny was pushed all the way by Jason with Paul Craft (Worthing) completing the top three.
In the final Race 6 Jenny’s skill and experience came to the fore. A pack of port flyers and a drifting windwark mark could not put her off her stride and she took the gun from Paul and Hector.
A few memorable moments were recorded:
Which sea based sailor said - “I imagine you don’t get very big waves on here.” Not true on Sunday!
Paul Craft for starting nearly every race on port at the pin end. The bravery of it!
Some of the more experienced helms who took a swim on the Sunday. No names, no pack drill.
The RO’s comment midway through the last race – “Let’s give them one more lap and call it a day. This is getting a bit manic!”
The races really separated the boys from the girls with a triumphant Jenny Ball from team Marconi raising the trophy on Sunday afternoon. Narrowly behind was Hector Bunclark, taking a short break from his studies at Southampton Uni to give an amazing display of flying a hull through the finish line. Third overall was Ed Tuite Dalton managing to win two of the six legs.
Event photographer Pauline Love’s amazing pictures are well worth a look and demonstrate the capabilities of these small craft and their helms in really challenging conditions.
As the skilled champions battled for podium positions at the front of the course, a more sedate but equally challenging contest was going on at the rear. As this year saw three home club newcomers to the Sprint15 family…
A couple of months earlier George Love and Ray Gall were sat in the teaching room at Carsington, patiently going through the basics of race strategy with their motley crew of novices. Answering questions like “Why do I need a race watch again?” and “So, who has the right of way when you get near that floaty thing?”
Forward track to the race line and the three newbies Sam Wood, Nick Pulman and Russell Briggs were dutifully assembled, all rather nervous and trying not to get in anyone’s way.
As the gun sounded and the rest of the race set off at pace, Russell was first off the mark. With skills worthy of the Titanic quartermaster he ploughed perfectly into a large orange club fixed buoy that someone had left on the start line (Pauline’s photography is again recommended).
Meanwhile some 100yds back from the start Nick and Sam battled courageously against the weather conditions. Sam mastered the three point turn technique by reversing his rudders and finally got going. Nick on the other hand managed a gybe and travelled another 50 yds back humming air on the G string and reminiscing about a cigar called Hamlet.
Despite this, all three managed the course, learnt a lot about sailing, and made some new friends by taking part. Race winners should beware, Russell has finally got his cat off the buoy and Nick has now bought a race watch and a waterproof hat, ready for the next series!
The club hosted a great event on Saturday evening with a hearty dinner and some impressive dad dancing at the disco. Particular thanks to the staff at Carsington, the race and safety teams who ran a superb event on the water and to George Love for bringing the event together, including a spectacular prize giving ceremony on Sunday.
By Nick Pulman (Carsington SC)
Full Series Results available here