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Sprint 15 Sport Nationals at North Devon Yacht Club

by Keith Heason 18 Jun 2011 17:41 BST 10-12 June 2011
Sprint 15 Sport nationals at North Devon © Thom Flaxman

With a great deal of anticipation, 35 sailors turned up for the Sprint 15 Sport Nationals on the weekend of the 10th–12th June. The event was hosted by North Devon Yacht Club (NDYC) at Instow who were delighted with such a good turnout considering the economic climate and Instow’s remote location.

The weather forecast for the first day's racing said a steady force 2 which would have been fine if it had materialised. In fact what the sailors got was no wind at all for the scheduled race start time. After a postponement of 50 minutes, a very light breeze kicked in that at times shifted 90 degrees and usually as sailors approached the windward mark and wing mark. The first beat was a messy affair with the wind coming and going and a great deal of concentration was needed to keep the boat moving. Steve Sawford was first to round the windward mark and set up a nice little lead for himself until the second lap when he set off to the wing mark again, forgetting that the race officer has set a triangle, sausage, triangle course. This allowed the chasing pack of George Love, Keith Heason, Annette Maddison, Erling Holmberg and Dane Stanley to reel Sawford in. The wind had now strengthened and places changed frequently. However it was Annette Maddison’s superb sailing and lighter weight which gave her the edge. Maddison crossed the line just yards ahead of Sawford closely followed by Love, Holmberg and Heason taking fifth spot. Whilst waiting for the rest to cross the line the weather took a dramatic turn. Out of nowhere a force 6+ sprung up with gusts up to force 8 and driving rain. With visibility down to just yards and no sign of it letting up, the race officer Richard Stone decided that a second race was not an option and the fleet were instructed to return to shore.

That evening the club hosted a BBQ and sailors dined on top quality Organic Burgers and Sausages. There was also a chicken wing ‘cook off’ between home sailors, Alyzon Mayoh and Sam Heaton to see who could cook the tastiest wings. Mayoh was the winner preferring fresh ingredients as opposed to the jar of Heaton.

Day 2 was always going to be a hectic affair, with the race officer under pressure to get in as many races as possible. As the sailors left the beach the wind did not look promising as the sailors made their way to the committee boat. A special “thank you” must go to David Graham NDYC Commodore for allowing the club to use his lovely boat Carol Ann to be used as the Committee boat - always a risky business at any Nationals when the stakes are so high. As usual Instow delivered half way through the third race as the wind kicked in and all sailors were sailing with huge grins on their faces as they all hooked on and swung out on the wire. It was Brian Phipps (Mr. Windsport) who made the most of the conditions. Brian had arrived as usual with his support trailer packed with spares for repairs and a brand new out of the box Sprint 15. The temptation was too much and the new boat was soon on the water with Brian doing very nicely ‘thank you’ to take the gun from Paul Grattage (Shanklin) whilst Mark Aldridge (Mr. Grafham) claimed third place.

By now the wind had increased to a good force 4+ with all that goes it. After a very exciting start where all you could hear were sailors shouting “up, up, up”, the race got off to a cracking start and all were soon out on the wire heading for the windward mark. Places changed fairly regularly as sailors made use of the wind and tide to gain an advantage. These were perfect conditions for the Flying Dutchman- Kevin Dutch (Seasalter). Dutch claimed his only win of the weekend, Phipps took second and Sawford was third.

Soon after the end of race 3 the sailors were all put under starters orders so that the third race of the day could be started. The wind had settled down to a steady force 4 but the tide was now on the turn creating a different set of sailing conditions. These conditions were obviously to the liking of Paul Grattage who read and adapted to the conditions and crossed the line to take the honours. Sawford followed closely behind. Holmberg using his slight weight advantage did not have to go out on the wire throughout the race recorded a creditable third. On returning to the beach the tired sailors were treated to a Pimms Happy Hour supplied in 2 huge watering cans courtesy of Brian Phipps of Windsport. There were more than a few sqiffy sailors on the beach by the time they had de-rigged their boats. Thank you, Brian.

Windsport’s ongoing support and sponsorship of the class is not only through attending key events and providing technical support. A brand new Sprint 15 mainsail donated by Windsport was handed over to Erling Holmberg (Events Secretary) for safe keeping and will be presented to a lucky Sprint 15 sailor later in the year. To stand a chance of being that lucky sailor you need to attend as many Sprint 15 events as you can. The more you attend the greater your chance of winning.

On Saturday evening the competitors and their wives and partners were treated to a three course supper in the club house as the sun set over the estuary.

As Sunday dawned things did not look too promising, pouring rain and a good force 4+ with gusts providing quite a contrast from the previous day’s sunshine and blue skies. The race officer informed sailors that there was only going to be one race run, so it was all to play for. Due to the change of the wind direction, the start was just off Crow Point. This caused most of the fleet problems as it is where the tide is at its strongest. However, all sailors coped well with conditions but it was home sailor Sam Heaton who excelled - (was it local knowledge I wonder)! Disaster struck half way through the race and the wind dropped off leaving the sailors with quite a task on their hands. The race officer shortened the course and Sam Heaton held on to his sizable lead. Dutch was second and Aldridge third.

All the sailors returned ashore tired but happy. Back at the club house, David Graham (Club Commodore) presented prizes and accepted speeches from the winners. Windsport provided a range of additional prizes including a set of their new range of skeg protectors, the “Mega Skeg Protectors”, great for big wheel trolleys, and the compact skeg protectors, along with Windsport pre-stretch toe straps and other useful bits and pieces for a Sprint 15.

A huge thank you must go to all the race organisers and rescue boat crews that contributed their time and effort in what, at times, were pretty appalling conditions. The club house helpers were also deserved of appreciation for their hospitality. Without all these willing volunteers hosting such a huge event would not be possible.

Once again Instow proved that it is possibly the finest venue to sail a Sprint 15 in sport mode and without a doubt the friendliest club on the circuit. We look forward to seeing you all again next year. If sailing a Sprint 15 in Sport mode is your game then Instow is the name.

Overall Results:

1Paul GrattageShanklin9241411
1Steve SawfordRutland2432511
3Kevin DutchSeasalter SC11516214
4Mark AldridgeGrafham10359320
5George LoveCarsington31194723
6Fraser ManningBeaver SC7665623
7Sam HeatonNDYC287811127
8Erling HolmbergShanklin491831127
9Ray GallCarsington2119107844
10Anthony GrayNDYC2315715946
11John ManningBeaver SC15820131349
12Ed Tuite DaltonDraycote61611173650
12Nick DewhirstWhitstable121012163650
14Rob WayNDYC161713101655
15Ian MounceNDYC261314201562
16Peter LyttonPapercourt131425143666
17Keith HeasonNDYC52217263670
18Eamonn BrowneMarconi222021181473
18Steve SmithNDYC252315231273
20Brian PhippsRestronguet3612363675
21Simon FleetNDYC192624241077
22Penny SleeNDYC24123683680
23Derek JamesDraycote202116253682
24Alex RaymontNDYC142523223684
25Stewart PeghamQMSC311822193690
26Annette MaddisionNDYC12727363691
27Dane StanleyNDYC82836213693
28David GrooomHighcliffe3636191236103
29David WarrenNDYC2924263636115
30Aly MayohNDYC1736363636125
31Roger BoneNDYC1836363636126
32Phil WarnerDraycote2729363636128
33Richard HentallNDYC3036362736129
34Wayne SilverNDYC3236363636140
35Ellie PriceNDYC3636363636144