Zhik Noble Marine 29er Sprint Championships at Grafham Water Sailing Club
by Paul Hammett on 16 Mar
11-12 March 2017
Zhik Noble Marine Sprint Championships at Grafham Water © VR Sport TV
Grafham Water Sailing Club hosted the inaugural Zhik Noble Marine Sprint Championships over the weekend of the 11/12 March. Light winds curtailed the event though the buzz through the fleet after the one day of completed racing suggests the sailors are keen to keep it going next year.
Sailors earned their places at the Sprint Finals from racing local events at their clubs as well as on the basis of their National rankings, with a few places also available on general release. Racing took place on an amended inner loop with starts every 10 minutes, 3 flights of 11-12 boats and a full team of 8 umpires to ensure fair racing under Appendum Q of the racing rules. This is the format used for Olympic medal races though for the Sprint event the idea was to use the format for up to 41 races over the weekend.
Racing on Saturday took place in 5-10 knots and some tight pressure racing ensued as sailors aimed to secure the three places available to each flight in Gold fleet. In the Yellow flight Nick and Billy won the qualifiers from Hanna / Anna with James / Jake just pipping Hattie / Aaron to the last qualifying place. Racing in the Blue flight was very close with 1 point separating the 3 leading pairs with Bella/Anna just taking the group from Freddie/Elliot and James/James. Meanwhile in red Dan/Fin dominated from Sarah / Nick with Patrick / Dom coming through for the 3rd place. The top 3 in each flight went in for an early shower and get the front row places for the rugby.
Those placed 4-7th in the qualifying leagues (12 boats) ended the day with a one shot race where the top 3 qualified for the Gold Fleet. Racing in this all or nothing race was both close and tense with Toby/Harry taking the win, Hattie/Aaron surging to 2nd after mid fleet at mark 1 followed by Mille/Jess. Meanwhile in the Silver Repecharge race, those places 8th-11th competed for 3 places in Silver with the remaining going to Bronze. Ryan/Louis took the win to make Silver along with with Sam/Cian, Jessie/Jess.
Unfortunately, the wind gods wouldn't play on Sunday so the joint winners of the event were the three group winners. Nick/Billy, Dan/Fin and Bella/Anna.
Huge thanks go to Graham Water for hosting and RO Peter Saxton and his team for delivering such good racing on Saturday - Carol Haines and the umpire team also worked flat out. Thanks to sponsors Noble Marine, Zhik and VR Sport TV for their support also. The Sprint concept definitely seems to have caught on and we hope to return to Grafham Water in 2018 – watch this space.