Race report by Kevin Kirby and Pictures by Andrew Dowley
Over the weekend of 30th June and 1st July, 23 Sprint 15’s signed on at Marconi Sailing Club for the 3rd TT of the year combined with The Southern Area Championship.
The weather forecast for the weekend was for sunny and bright with strong SW winds but easing during Sunday, which it did…just!
The format was for 3 races back to back on Saturday followed by the ever popular figure of 8 long distance race round Northey and Osea islands on Sunday.
Taking in to consideration the wind direction/strength and a falling tide our race officer for the weekend Lee Harrison set an oblong course off of the club house which ensured those who came to watch were not disappointed!
The fleet were understandably a little line shy and with a heavy port hand bias this allowed Stuart Snell to charge in at the mark and was quickly away along with Kevin Dutch and David Ball followed by the rest of the ‘windward hull flying’ fleet! At the windward mark it was a fast reach across the river to the gybe mark then a long broad reach to a penultimate mark before a fetch back across the river to the last mark and the beat back to the start line. There were various place changes throughout the race with the fleet remaining fairly tight and some spectacular sailing. David Ball sailed a fine race pulling away from Kevin Dutch to take the gun only to graciously retire having had an earlier port and starboard incident with Nick Miller which unfortunately put Nick’s boat out of action. So this gave 1st place to Kevin Dutch, 2nd Stuart Snell, 3rd Kevin Kirby, and 4th Nick Dewhurst.
The fleet again started on Port tack but this time Kevin Dutch got away with Snell, Ball, Kirby and Robert Finch chasing hard, but through out the fleet there was some excellent sailing in what was becoming very difficult conditions with increasing capsizes. Fenella Miller was one such casualty but for those who know Fen, even though she didn’t participate further in the worsening conditions, having got ashore, and in the spirit of Sprint 15 sailors had dusted herself down and was preparing herself for Sunday. Kevin Dutch took the gun with Snell 2nd, Ball 3rd, Kirby 4th.Robert Finch 5th.
By now the wind was gusting force 6 making a beat the ‘safest’ point of sailing. The fleet away cleanly again on port tack Dutch was soon off in to the lead, but not without his scares, please visit The MSC website to view a blow by blow shot of Kevin going towards The South Pole! And yes he did survive, although many didn’t, with the tide dropping and probably not much more than the depth of a rudder blade available at the gybe mark it became even more critical to arrive close to the mark and gybe quickly, Jon Finch was not so lucky with an understandable moment of indecision along with one of those gusted and with the rudder blades now in the horizontal position went straight up the mud bank. He was one of the lucky ones, David Ball whilst pushing for a win went down the mine shaft so hard that his bows stuck in the mud before flipping in to a full pitch pole. This became the order of the day with many such capsizes, normally boats come ashore with mud just at the top of mast not on both bows too. By now this eventful race looked to be won by Dutch when, just as he was starting the penultimate beat went aground, breaking a rudder blade and tiller bar plus tearing his trampoline this allowed the closing pack to take full advantage. Nick Dewhurst sailing without his glasses and now no boat to follow took in an extra mark just to be sure before going on to win followed by Paul Craft who sailed a great race pipping Kirby, Robert Finch and Snell to take a well deserved second place. 13 boats finished the race and that in it self was an achievement but also a mention to Gary Burrows for a fine 6th place.
SUNDAY RACE 4:
The wind had eased a little but was still a brisk force 4/5 bright and sunny. With wind over the flooding tide the first ¾ of a mile of the Beat westwards towards Maldon was going to be lumpy and with 22 boats out, and the tide trying to sweep you over the line a bit of prudence was necessary. The fleet got away although there was a recall which nobody responded to and it was Dutch, Ball, Craft, Snell and Kirby who made the early running although by the time the fleet reached the top of Northey Island Dutch lead from Craft and Kirby but closely followed by Robert Finch, Ball, Snell and Nick Miller in a borrowed boat. The wind was very gusty at the top end of the island and Craft took a swim leaving Dutch to lead on the run home followed by Ball, Kirby, Snell, Finch and Miller. The race was far from over and the leading bunch changed places several times on the long run/reach down the north side of Osea Island eventually with Kirby and Ball pulling clear. Kirby went on to take 1st place followed by Ball, Snell, Dutch, Finch, Miller with Jenny Ball taking 6th place. Nick Hillman had a more relaxed sail than the day before and hopefully had time to enjoy a sandwich and a flask of coffee he took out on the previous day but didn’t get a chance to open!
The overall results were going to be very close and it looked like Kevin Dutch had won by 1 point but Kevin was one of the two boats over at the start which meant it went to a tie between Kevin Kirby and Stuart Snell both on 7 points so on count back Kevin Kirby went on to win overall and become Sothern Area Champion for 2012 ,2nd Stuart Snell (7pts), 3rd Nick Dewhirst (12pts), 4th David Ball (13pts), 5th Robert Finch (13 pts), 6th Paul Craft (16pts).