On Saturday February 18th the Sprint 15 fleet visited Queen Mary for the fourth event of their Winter Series.
With a weather forecast for the day of strong winds, this was always likely to be challenging test, and it certainly was. With winds of over 20 knots and gusting over 30 this threatened to be something more like from the series of ďTotal WipeoutĒ than a pure sailing event!
For the event, race officers Charles and Jackie Wand-Tetley set the fleet a large square course on the western side of Queen Mary reservoir.
At the start of the first race, Grafhamís Mark Aldridge charged away from the line and immediately started to open up a big lead. Behind him, Rutlandís Steve Sawford and Howard Hawkes (Thorpe Bay) were in hot pursuit. Queen Mary sailor Gordon Goldstone was also there, but his racing came to an abrupt end on the 2nd lap when his rigging gave way.
At the finish line, Aldridge was well ahead of Sawford, Liam Thom made a great effort to take 3rd ahead of Howard Hawkes, Paul Craft was 5th and Robert England 6th.
With the wind gusts hammering across the water it was inevitable it would take a toll and there would be a number of capsizes and non-finishers. Derek James, Gary Burrows and Ian Hope all succumbed to the weather and didnít make it to the finish.
By the time of the 2nd race, the wind had ratcheted up yet another notch, and it was a slightly depleted number of starters who lined up to go.
This was a tough race in the toughest of conditions. Aldridge led every lap, with Sawford repeatedly tacking off to try a different route, but never really managing to close the gap.
At the gun, it was again Aldridge from Sawford, Howard Hawkes was 3rd ahead of Robert England, the consistent Paul Craft 5th and Jan Elfring with his best result in 6th.
The final event in this hotly contested Sprint 15 Winter Series wraps up at Grafham on March 25th. It promises to be quite competitive.
Full Series Results available here