On Sunday 20 March the final event of the Sprint 15 fleet winter series was held at Grafham. 12 visitors joined 11 sailors from the home club on a pleasant spring day with a force 2-3 South West breeze. The Race Officer, Ian Paterson, set a large rectangular course which gave the fleet some tight reaches as well as a true run to test their mettle.
In the first race birthday boy, Simon Farthing, led the charge to the first mark closely followed by Peter Slater, Jon Finch and George Love. Winter series leader, Slater worked his way into the lead over the next lap, closely followed by Finch and Love. A little further back Grafham youngster, Jacob Aldridge, was holding 5th place ahead of his farther Mark and National Champion, Stuart Snell, was recovering from a poor start. The wind swings made the beat quite tricky as the same side was not favoured from one lap to the next. After 4 laps at the gun, Slater was the clear winner, but Snell had recovered to just take second from J. Finch. Farthing was forth and Aldridge the younger beat his dad for the first time at an open - could this be a sign of things to come?
The second race was started in similar conditions after a short lunch break. Both Farthing and Love were over the line at the start and had to go back round the ends - one each! Slater made no mistake and was first to the windward mark a short distance ahead of Mark Aldridge, Snell, Frank Sandells and Richard Whitelock. The wind swings on the first beat were catching out the leaders and after a lap M Aldridge was first from son, Jacob, Slater, Snell and Finch. The spectators gallery was getting quite excited with Anna & Abby Aldridge cheering on both Mark and Jacob and the Finch family from Stewartby appreciating their sailors efforts. On the third beat several sailors lost out by not covering the sailors behind, none more so than Slater who lost many places. M Aldridge made no such error and opened out huge lead and took the gun at the end of the third lap. Snell was second and George Stephen put in a terrific spurt to snatch third place from Sandells and J Aldridge.
Thus after a good days tactical sailing Stuart Snell (2,2) won by his consistency from George Stephen (6,3), Mark Aldridge (9,1) and Peter Slater (1,10).
Full individual race results are available here: http://gwsc.no-ip.org/Gwsc_Results/Open%20Meetings/2011/Sprint%2015%20Winter%20TT%202011.htm
The fleet now rest for a short period until the Summer Traveller Series gets under way at Marconi on 16/17 April.
Full Series Results available here