Blasting from the river mouth to take the open sea by storm was hardly the format for this Championship, blistering sunshine, light winds and strong tides was the reality for the 41 protagonists for this event.
The weather forecast promising lots of wind seemed accurate enough at the start of the first race on Saturday Morning, strong gusts from the east in perfect sunshine set in picturesque surroundings this must be sailing utopia.
The fleet got away cleanly, blasting up the Tor estuary to the first mark, each crew straining on the wire, eager to be in a good position at the windward mark, first round was Kyle Stoneham from Thorpe Bay Yacht Club, 2nd was Peter Ewing form NDYC and 3rd Brian Phipps from Restronguet Sailing Club, quickly the front runners pulled away from the rest of the fleet and at the wing mark had pulled out a not insignificant lead.
Disaster struck a few moments later, the wind decided as the weather was so good it would go away for the weekend, not sure where it went but we all hoped that it had a good time. Back in Instow fortunes were turned upside down, some massive losses and gains were made. The race was eventually won by Phipps with Charles Watson from Halifax SC second and Erling Holmberg third.
The second race sailed back to back with the first got under way this time in very light conditions, the tide playing an important part of the competitors tactical decision making, these decisions were crucial for a good result in these conditions, Phipps again got it right with another first closely followed by Kyle Stoneham and third from the home club Annette Madison.
Racing over, it was then back to the Yacht Club, the cup final was on the big screen, but most people wanted to be outside enjoying the weather. That evening the Nationals social programme got underway, the Après Sail programme always an essential and exciting part of the Sprint 15 events, and this one was no exception. Sailors and their families enjoyed Italian food and Live Folk Music.
Sunday Morning, no wind, at the top of the course the little breeze was from the west, at the bottom of the course it was coming from the east, “a race officers nightmare” when at last whatever breeze stayed, it came from the west. At the start the locals, who have inherited their local knowledge from generations of fisherman and yachtsman opted for the Appledore side of the estuary, whilst all the visitors opted for the North shore, how the locals laughed right up until, the leading visitor Martin Scott fresh from the North Shore drifted past the windward mark.
Only eight boats finished, the rest ran out of time. 1st was Martin Scott from Gurnard 2nd Mark Aldridge from Grafham 3rd David Casale from Queen Mary and making his Nationals Debut was Barry Vincent from NDYC was 4th.
For the fourth race the wind had filled in a little, but was still incredibly light, it was a race to get the race started before the water ran out. A smaller course was used first again was Martin Scott 2nd Charles Watson and 3rd Brian Phipps.
Getting back ashore was not an insignificant achievement in these conditions, to find that many had decided not race and enjoy the sunshine instead, I am not sure who had the better time, and I would not like to hazard a guess either.
Après Sail programme on Sunday evening, traditionally a sit down dinner with some after dinner speeches, and this one was no exception, “Stalwart and Chairman” on the Sprint 15 class Nick Dewhirst regaled his captive audience with stories and encouraged others to participate. “An enjoyable evening.”
Mondays racing, the last day and last opportunity to improve positions, whilst others hoping to defend theirs. In the light conditions it seemed a daunting task. Both races were won by Brian Phipps, 2nd in race 6 was Annette Maddison and 3rd Martin Scott. The final race as I say was won by Phipps 2nd Erling Holmberg 3rd Charles Watson 4th Steve Sawford from Rutland and making his results debut Kieth Heason from NDYC.
Despite the testing conditions everybody had a fantastic weekend in Devon the Sun was hot the Beer was cold and ambiance spectacular. But without the hospitality of the home club it would not have been so good, so thanks must go to Keith Heason, his wife Bernie and their team of willing helpers that insured we were all fed, the Bar Staff who kept us hydrated, Richard Stone and his race team who got all five races in.
Click for: Full Results with all Sub-Competitions