By Ed Tuite-Dalton(DWSC)
As the sun rose into a duck-egg blue winter sky, the six local sailors broke the ice off their boats and discussed the benefits of batten tension, rudder alignment and skeg condition, as they prepared to do battle in the 4th Draycote Sprint 15 Winter TT meeting on the 12th January. Eleven travelers arrived bright and early to join the fray from various clubs around the country.
With cloudless skies and a south westerly force 2/3 wind, Race Officer, Justin Edwards set a square course for the first race. The seventeen boats got off to a clean start with Ray Gall (Carsington) taking advantage of nominal line bias and clearing the pack on a port flier. Local fleet captain Pete Slater was, however, first to reach the windward mark, which looked promising for the locals, but sailing high on the next leg, he was overtaken by Steve Sawford (Grafham) and Richard Philpott (Grafham). Richard took the lead and held it to the bullet, with Steve second, Chris Black (Grafham) third and Pete fourth. Meanwhile competition was keen throughout the fleet, especially amongst the three boats competing in Sport mode. Ray Gall and George Love (Carsington) and local man Derek James were taking advantage of the trapeze on the upwind legs. When Derek’s harness unexpectedly collapsed, George broke away to finish third on the water (eighth on handicap). Behind the leaders a knot four boats led by local Ed Tuite-Dalton and travelers George Stephen and Gordon Goldstone (Queen Mary) and Erling Holmberg (Shanklin) were having a fierce battle in the run up to the finish.
After lunch the wind dropped a couple of knots but stayed south westerly. Four boats went on a port flier but those on starboard were up on the line and the port tackers had to dive behind. The racing was close amongst the top six but Richard Philpott was, once again, laying down a marker to the fleet and pulled away to take a clear lead. After the second lap the wind shifted southerly turning the beat to a fetch and with the wind dying, the Race Officer took the decision to shorten the race after fifty minutes. Richard, again took the gun with George Stephen and Steve Sawford pressing him all the way to the line.
The deserved winner was Richard Philpott from Grafham Water who happened to mention that this was his first Open and that he had only been racing Sprints for 2 years. Watch out, folks! Steve Sawford posted his usual consistent performance to finish second and Pete Slater, the home fleet Captain, came an impressive third (Draycote’s best result to date) – not bad for an 18 sailor! Chris Black (Grafham), Ed Tuite-Dalton (Draycote), George Stephen (Queen Mary), Erling Holmberg (Shanklin) and Gordon Goldstone (Queen Mary) all posted consistent performances to take places fourth to eighth respectively. Sportster George Love led this mode with two third places on the water dropping him to ninth overall on handicap.
Full Series Results available here