On Saturday February 19th the Sprint 15 fleet visited Queen Mary for the fourth event of their Winter Series. The weather on the day was distinctly chilly and overcast and to cap it off, a light drizzle was falling. Despite the conditions, the Sprint 15 Winter series competitors again turned out in force with a strong entry of 18 boats.
Race officer Paul Stainsby and his team set a square course on the west side of the Queen Mary reservoir.
At the start of the first race, Pete Slater managed to pull off the tactical move of the day by clearing the whole fleet on port tack and it really paid off. Even so, it was QMís George Stephen who just got to the windward mark first, but arriving on port had to put in the tack, this allowed Slater approaching on starboard to power past into the lead. Close behind these two came QMís Gordon Goldstone, Stewartbyís Jon Finch and Erling Holmberg, The chasing pack was not far behind.
Not everyone was having such a good race, Draycote sailor, Jan Elfring was well placed but hit the mark whilst trying to tack inside the starboard handed boats, whilst Carsingtonís George Love somehow managed to fall off his boat!
As the race progressed, National champion Stuart Snell gradually worked his way through the field after recovering from an uncharacteristic poor start. But there was no joy for Seasalterís Kevin Dutch who was stuck down the fleet. Shanklin sailor Liam Thon was having a good race first time out in the series as was Mike and Tony Loxley sailing 2 up.
For the start of the 2nd race, several boats sailed to the port end of the line to try and emulate Pete Slaterís 1st race tactic. This time the fleet were spread well down the line and there was little room for a port tack boat to squeeze through. George Love just made it through but several others were forced to make last second tacks as the gaps they were heading for rapidly closed down.
The beat was very true and the fleet split to both sides of the course with seemingly no advantage either way, and it was a closely bunched fleet that rounded the first mark. Stuart Snell this time had made a good start and led the fleet round the first lap, George Stephen was again near the front, close behind was George Love, Stewart Pegum and Erling Holmberg. Thorpe bayís Howard Hawkes was having a better race, but further back it wasnít going so well for 1st race winner Slater, or his clubmate Derek James who was trying to fend off Beaverís Mike Robertshaw and Robert Finch from Stewartby.
At the finish, Stuart Snell held on to take the win, once again Holmberg just managed to get ahead of George Stephen and there was another good result from Stewart Pegum in 4th. George Love made amends for his 1st race swim by coming in 5th. Howard Hawkes was 6th.
After 2 races the overall winner was Erling Holmberg, his consistency with two 2nd places put him ahead of George Stephen, equally consistent with two 3rd places. The two race winners Stuart Snell and Pete Slater couldnít capitalise on their one win apiece and came in 3rd and 4th. Stewart Pegum and Jon Finch were 5th and 6th.
The final event in the closely contested Sprint 15 Winter Series takes place on March 20th.
Full Series Results available here