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Sprint 15 National Championships at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club

by Jenny Ball on 25 Jul 22-24 July 2017

Thorpe Bay, Essex, hosted 60 entrants for the Sprint 15 National Championships sponsored by GJW Direct Insurance and Windsport. Entrants came from far and wide including Isle of Wight, Wales, Devon, the North and the Essex area. We were particularly pleased to welcome seventeen sailors competing in the Nationals for the first time and five youth entrants.

The event comprised seven races over three days, in increasingly breezy conditions!

Day 1 saw the lightest conditions with a reasonable Force 3. Race 1 saw Paul Grattage lead for the first lap but was eventually overtaken by last year's National Champions, father and daughter team Sean and Sophia McKenna who went on to win the race. David Ball held on to third place, followed by Stuart Snell, Kevin Kirby, Liam Thom and Jack Tindale - putting in an impressive performance as a newcomer to the Sprint 15 fleet. Andy & Finley Webb were also doing well until their mainsail split in half – but they managed to borrow another one and get out in time for the next race.

Race 2 saw a slight strengthening of the breeze and with the tide turning, there was a mass bundle at the windward mark where those coming in on port found themselves tacking inside the oncoming starboard fleet and being pushed the wrong side of the mark. Paul Grattage established an early lead which he held on to win the race, followed by Sean and Sophia, Kevin Kirby, Stuart Snell and Kevin Dutch. The fleet headed in after a great afternoon's sailing.

This year, Chairman Awards were introduced to commend individual competitors who had achieved something notable – sponsored by Elmore Homes and supplied by TCS Chandlery. Saturday's winners were Yvonne Pike for capsizing on the finish line and Tom Gurney for putting in a great performance despite being half the size and a third of the age of an average Sprint 15 sailor!

Day 2 dawned with more sunshine and a decent Force 3 - 4 which was due to fall away during the afternoon so the fleet were keen to get the three races in. Kevin Dutch led the first lap – was overtaken by Sean and Sophia on lap 2 but got back in front to win the race – followed by Kevin Kirby, Sean and Sophia, Liam Thom and Jim Bowie. The wind had strengthened for the start of Race 4 and those who held the line out to the left hand side of the beat got to the windward mark first. David Ball developed an impressive lead by the end of the first lap – followed by Jack Tindale, Paul Grattage and Gary Sverdloff. But Sean and Sophia were chasing hard and by the end of the fourth lap, had managed to pull through to take the lead – followed by David, Paul Grattage, Liam Tom and Kevin Dutch.

Race 5 started in normal wind conditions – but was swiftly overtaken by squally conditions that had somehow been omitted from the forecast! Sprint 15s cope pretty well in such breezes but that did not prevent Sean and Sophia from capsizing and a number of others calling time and heading home. The Race Officer shortened the course after one lap – seeing another win for Kevin Dutch, followed by Paul Grattage, David Lloyd, Andy and Finley Webb and Chris Tillyer.

With a full on onshore breeze, landing sixty boats on the beach proved tricky or entertaining depending on your point of view. Sunday's Chairman's Awards went to Gary Burrows for his boat sailing off the beach by itself when he went to help someone else land – and had to be chased hard by a support boat to bring it back. Gary Sverdloff won an award for sailing over the concrete groin before being thrown off his boat – which then needed to be sailed back by a safety boat crew. The final award went to Sophia McKenna for enjoying her capsize despite being thrown well clear of the boat (and rescuing the burgee).

The fleet enjoyed a three course Class Association Annual Dinner in the evening and compared notes on aching muscles and bruises! Entertainment was provided by local band The Runaways who covered an excellent range of music – a must when fleet members are aged between 13 and 73!

Day three was breezier from the get go and two races were completed in strong wind conditions which resulted in some retirements during the course of the day and, unfortunately, some damage. Sean and Sophia sailed a text book race to win race 6 with David Ball taking second place from Chris Tillyer when his toestrap broke. Race 7 saw Robert Finch take the lead for the first two laps chased hard by Paul Grattage, Kevin Dutch and Andy and Finley Webb. Kevin Kirby capsized at the end of lap 1 and Aaron Kirby (no relation!) capsized on top of Kevin whilst trying to avoid him – but no harm or damage done. Kevin Dutch pulled through to take his third race win, followed by Paul Grattage, Robert Finch and Andy and Finley Webb.

The fleet headed ashore after a great weekend of racing. Chairman's Awards went to Aaron Kirby for capsizing on top of his namesake and to Jack Tindale for sailing a superb first time Nationals until his boat was unfortunately damaged.

Prizegiving was led by Sissy Dewhirst – and massive congratulations to Sean and Sophia McKenna, from Shanklin – National Champions for the second year in a row. Congratulations also to Paul Grattage, Shanklin in 2nd place, Kevin Dutch, Seasalter in 3rd, David Ball, Marconi in 4th and Kevin Kirby, Marconi in 5th.

Other notable achievements include:

  • Joe Spencer for winning the youth cup and to Hector Bunclark, Aaron Kirby, Sam Madar and Tom Gurney who came 2nd to 5th.
  • Andrew Sinclair and the Royal Western Yacht Club for bringing 4 under 18 and 2 not much older than 18 competitors who all put in impressive performances. Stone Sailing Club were also a welcome first time fleet to the Sprint 15 Nationals and we hope to see both fleets out on the circuit.
  • Erling Holmberg for winning the newly introduced 70 plus cup, Kevin Kirby and Chris Tillyer for winning the 60 plus and 50 plus cups respectively. Erling also had the foresight to tank his results at last year's Nationals – thereby securing the Most Improved trophy this year!
  • Yvonne Pike only started sailing a couple of years ago and put in a great performance for her first Nationals – for which Sophia McKenna and Jenny Ball duly awarded her the Ladies Trophy.
  • Robert Finch for winning the Heavyweight Trophy and managing not to be offended in doing so!
  • Dave Warnock for winning the Paul Smith trophy for the Most Persistent competitor – particularly well deserved by such an enthusiastic newcomer to the fleet.

A big thank you to Thorpe Bay for hosting a fantastic event both on and off the water – and thank you to our sponsors GJW Direct Insurance, Windsport and support from Elmore Homes and TCS Chandlery.

2018 is the 40th Anniversary of the Sprint 15 and we look forward to our National Championships taking place from 22nd to 24th June 2018 at Weymouth.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the Sprint 15 Sport nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

1Sean McKenna & Sophia McKenna2018Shanklin Sailing Club1231DNF1DNC8
2Paul Grattage1944Shanklin Sailing Club21732OCS210
3Kevin Dutch1938Seasalter Sailing Club951515113
4David Ball1923Marconi Sailing Club3610282518
5Kevin Kirby2020Marconi Sailing Club53217114DNF25
6Andy Webb & Finley Webb1879Harwich Town Sailing ClubDNF88747430
7Jim Bowie2021Thorpe Bay Yacht Club77513751031
8Liam Thom1957Shanklin Sailing Club610441012832
9Andrew Sinclair1540Royal Western Yacht Club21226898940
10Chris Tillyer1953Marconi Sailing Club1714202453645
11Robert Finch1990Stewartby Water Sports Club20914111211346
12Jenny Ball1917Marconi Sailing Club12209618191459
13Daren Fitchew1642Thorpe Bay Yacht Club3516131513131165
14David Groom1714Christchurch Sailing Club1319361615101367
15 'Jon Pearse1988Marconi Sailing Club152118236142274
16 'Jon Finch1890Stewartby Water Sports Club33272114248774
17Gary Burrows2011Thorpe Bay Yacht Club1415263516171577
18David Lloyd1981Stokes Bay Sailing Club11233493DNCDNC80
19 'Gary Sverdloff1963Thorpe Bay Yacht Club18112710DNF162982
20 'David King1479Thorpe Bay Yacht Club3813173219211282
21Stuart Snell2016Grafham Water Sailing Club441112DNFDNCDNC84
22Richard Chidwick1545North Devon Yacht ClubDNC50161922141687
23Rob Bailey1755Thorpe Bay Yacht Club27264120172517105
24Kevin Parvin1615Llandudno Sailing Club25DNF2239202220109
25Gerald Sverdloff & Nathan Sverdloff2017Thorpe Bay Yacht Club19312427292618114
26 'Jack Tindale1410Stone Sailing Club7121922DNCDNFDNC115
27 'Steve Healy1921Marconi Sailing Club10171221DNCDNFDNC115
28Sam Heaton1972North Devon Yacht Club1618501814DNFDNC116
29Erling Holmberg1211Shanklin Sailing Club37291536DNC1819117
30David Hopper1977Thorpe Bay Yacht Club23282525DNF2725125
31John Manning1955Beaver Sailing Club31344330212821131
32Keith Persin1551Thorpe Bay Yacht Club28253543252039133
33Donald Sloan1240Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club30243926393024134
34George Love2019Carsington Sailing Club22302334DNC3330138
35Gordon Goldstone2004Queen Mary Sailing Club26353331322327139
36 'Geoff Tindale1933Stone Sailing Club343332282324DNC140
37 'Eamonn Browne1861Creeksea Sailing Club24373137303223140
38Joe Spencer714Royal Western Yacht Club36394848272926157
39George Warrington127Thorpe Bay Yacht Club43532833264734164
40Hector Bunclark1906North Devon Yacht Club49462938353137170
41Gordon Deuce1461Brightlingsea Sailing Club2941462928DNCDNC173
42Andy Perks1428Marconi Sailing Club42383045403531174
43Nigel James1759Marconi Sailing Club39434040333728177
44 'Alan Grant1825Thorpe Bay Yacht Club40424442313433180
45 'Steve Roberts1910Dee Sailing ClubDNF323744384132180
46Colin Rigg2012Thorpe Bay Yacht Club32444541DNF3640193
47John Shenton1956Shanklin Sailing Club41363854DNF4438197
48Andrew Berisford1947Brightlingsea Sailing Club444854503442DNC218
49 'Graham Dare2002Thorpe Bay Yacht Club46405246DNFDNC35219
50 'Daniel Drew1871Royal Western Yacht Club475149533640DNF219
51Robert Wilson1966Stone Sailing Club51475147DNC3936220
52Aaron Kirby1547Royal Western Yacht Club454542494248DNF221
53Duncan Ford1814Thorpe Bay Yacht Club48494755DNF43DNF234
54David Warnock2008RYA52525652374950240
55John Laliberte1548Thorpe Bay Yacht Club53545757DNF4641247
56Liam Bunclark1951North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC59514138DNC250
57Yvonne Pike1220Shanklin Sailing Club50DNF5356DNF45DNC257
58Sam Madar638Royal Western Yacht Club585855DNFDNCDNSDNC286
59Tom Gurney1396Royal Western Yacht ClubDNF5560DNFDNCDNCDNC295
60Paul Morgan1954Thorpe Bay Yacht ClubDNFDNFDNCDNCDNCDNCDNC302

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