The fourth Sprint 15 TT of 2009 took place on 26th& 27th September at Carsington Sailing Club in Derbyshire. The sun broke through on a clear morning, with a light and very shifty wind promising difficult conditions for the fleet of 17 boats.
Arriving over 2 hours early, you’d normally expect other boats in bits with people rushing around. As it turns out, most boats were already rigged and ready on the beach. Erling Holmberg, with time to kill, was telling us how he managed to get from his private equatorial island, to Carsington in less than 3 hours. Then he went on to complain about not being allowed into the sailing club when he arrived at 7.30. No surprises there. Robert England on the other hand, spent his time wisely, cleaning cow muck off his boat. God knows how it got there, but it’s strongly suspected he may be storing his hulls in fertilizer to make them go faster.
Race briefing informed a slight change to the sailing rules, with a 4-2-GO start, to clear the line of boats ASAP. This caused much confusion to the competitors, as no one knew how to change their watch count down from 5 to 4 minutes.
First race was staged on a trapezoid course. A good start from Charles Watson, George Love, and Erling Holmberg saw them reach the windward mark first. Erling dropped back a little, but managed keep a good position in the fleet. On lap 4, a huge windshift on the left side on the course meant it was snakes and ladders for positions. John Postlethwaite and Steve Sawford used this to best advantage, with John taking the lead, and Steve picking up at least 7 places. Postlethwaite went on to win the race from Charles Watson and Robin Newbold. Rob Bowen of Netley SC, competing in his first traveller event, and Ian Collyer of Hollowell SC, kept their nerve. With big gains to be had in the troublesome winds, Rob and Ian managed to pick up some places to finish eleventh and eighth respectively. During the briefing we were told not to go through the gate on the downwind leg. A few unsure sailors were confirming their thoughts out on the course, until one conscientious sailor pulled out the SI’s from his buoyancy aid, talk about thinking ahead. A couple of sailors who forget this rule were Robert England and Howard Hawkes, but they later realised their mistakes and retired.
Race 2 saw light-wind guru Robert England take the lead from the start and hold off stiff competition from Neil Parkhurst. Tactical genius John Postlethwaite found another windshift to take him up to fourth. In the same shift, Keith Chidwick managed to gain around 10 places to put him up the sharp end. England stretched his lead, from Parkhurst, and Postlethwaite third.
Later in the day, sailors and spectators enjoyed a great meal prepared by the Galley which was followed by the usual friendly banter at others expense! Come Sunday morning, the competitors were treated again to bacon and egg rolls.
Sunday brought less wind, and the start was delayed in hope the wind would build up to forecasted levels.
Most boats started race 4 at the committee boat end. A big group of boats were to round the windward mark together and head downwind 6 abreast, producing a busy leeward mark. The fleet split into 2 groups further down the course. Gordon Goldstone showed a lack of spatial awareness as he managed to clip a buoy unprovoked. Later in that lap, TT newcomer Chris Hodges, was still getting to grips with race rules, and got squeezed onto the leeward buoy, and moored up to it for a while, as others sailed happily by. John Postlethwaite also chose to hit a buoy and decided to do his turn in the wrong place, luffing Erling off course. Any complaints by Holmberg were duly ignored. Stewart Pegum had a solid race, finishing with his weekend best of fourth, to pull himself up the overall standings. Chris Hodges sailed a great race even after his mistake, continuing to improve throughout the weekend, getting better results in each race.
Race 5 saw the wind die even more, to around a few knots with the occasional gust. At this point there was 4 leaders within 2 points of each other, so it was still all to play for into the last race. A big windshift on the start benefitted Charles Watson, George Love and Howard Hawkes who started on port. The remainder of the fleet soon realised that crossing the line on starboard was a daft idea, so everyone tacked onto port. With the wind shifting, Newbold, Watson and Parkhurst kept close to each other, but John Postlethwaite once again managed to make the most of the conditions and snuck away. Erling made a big gain on lap 2 to pull himself up to third. Close racing in the middle of the fleet saw Charles Watson, Neil Parkhurst, Gordon Goldstone and George Love battle it out. Robin Gill benefitted from this group of boats holding each other up though, getting up to ninth, ahead of Love and Goldstone.
With John Postlethwaite’s convincing win, he clinched the title of Northern Champion. Robin Newbold came in 2 points behind in second, and another 2 points behind was Charles Watson.
The sailors now look forward to Grafham Cat Open on 24-25th October, and a return to Carsington Water on 5th December for a winter TT.
Overall Results: 1st J Postlethwaite (Beaver) 9 pts, 2nd R Newbold (Carsington) 11 pts, 3rd C Watson (Halifax) 13 pts, 4th N Parkhurst ( Beaver) 13 pts, 5th E Holmberg ( Shanklin) 17 pts, 6th Steve Sawford (Rutland) 21pts, 7th H Hawkes (Thorpe Bay) 26pts 8th S Pegum (Queen Mary) 29pts, 9th G Goldstone (Queen Mary) 33pts, 10th G Love (Carsington) 35pts
Full Series Results available here
Windsport Voucher Winners: