On Saturday February 20th the Sprint 15 fleet visited Queen Mary for the fourth event of their Winter Series. Once again for this winter series, the forecast was for a cold day with light wind. Even so, there was a terrific 19 boat entry, coming from IOW in the south to Carsington in the north.
Race officer Andrew Craig and his team performed wonders to set a course in the light, constantly changing wind.
Immediate drama at the start of the first race, with the 2 boats of Robin Newbold and Pete Slater over the line, and with the light wind, neither made it back to the start line.
From this point, it was almost any one’s race, but Stuart Snell skilfully pulled out a lead on the last leg, only to suffer the disappointment of seeing the wind fill in behind, allowing the fleet to catch him yards from the line. 1st place went to Grafham’s Chris Black with a welcome return to form, 2nd was the unlucky Stuart Snell, closely followed by Steve Sawford, Tom Gall, Erling Holmberg, Robert England and Stewartby’s Mark Norman. Queen Mary sailor, George Stephen managed to squeeze past Simon Giles to take 8th.
By the time of the 2nd race, the wind had swung round nearly 180 degrees, causing more problems for the Race Officer.
At the start, half the fleet had sailed to the port end of the line to take advantage of the heavily biased line. With seconds before the gun, the wind swung back the other way giving the advantage to the starboard tack boats. It was that sort of day.
Steve Sawford and Derek James took full advantage of the situation to get away and build a lead, followed by Pete Slater, Robin Newbold, George Love and Simon Giles.
The wind never stopped swinging around all day. By the time the leaders reached the last leg, this had now become another beat. Sawford sailed well to hold off Derek James to the line. They were clear ahead.
The following pack were struggling to get to the finish in the difficult conditions. As most of the fleet went to the right of the course, several including Chris Black and Gordon Goldstone noticed a band of wind on the other side and tacked off to try and gain advantage. It helped, but wasn’t enough.
In a close finish for the places, Robin Newbold took 3rd, followed by Pete Slater, Tom Gall, Stuart Snell and Gordon Goldstone, Chris Black came in 8th.
After 2 races in very difficult conditions, the overall winner was Rutland’s Steve Sawford, from Grafham sailors, Stuart Snell and Chris Black.
This means that Sawford and Snell are now equal on points with the last race in the series at Grafham Water on March 21st.
Full Series Results available here