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2022 Sprint 15 National Championship at Restronguet Sailing Club

by Jenny Ball 15 Jul 2022 06:25 BST 9-11 May 2022
Race start during the 2022 Sprint 15 Nationals at Restronguet © Pauline Love

This year, the Sprint 15 fleet headed to a very special destination for their 2022 National Championship. We were delighted to be hosted by Windsport International and Restronguet Sailing Club - the home of where the class began 44 years ago. A total of 45 competitors plus lots of family members were treated to a weekend of sunshine sailing and social events on the beautiful Carrick Roads.

Competitors arrived and got set up on the Friday whilst five sailors took advantage of a bespoke coaching session laid on by Tom Phipps of Windsport sharing lots of useful hints and tips. By arriving two days earlier, our Treasurer, Nigel James, deprived the fleet of its usual pre-event entertainment watching him put up his inflatable tent. So instead, the competitors busied themselves with pre-regatta preparations which mainly involved sampling local ice cream, cake, coffee, beer and wine. A lovely first day was rounded off with a BBQ and Bar hosted by Windsport and supported by Healey's Cider in the summer evening sunshine.

Race Day One began with a briefing from Race Officer, Chris Cleaves. During the briefing, competitors were specifically reminded that the finish mark was different to the start pin and were read the proverbial riot act on the importance of tallying on and off promptly. The fleet set off in glorious sunshine to complete three back to back races starting at 12 noon. The prevailing breeze was quite strong to start with and conditions looked very promising for a day of champagne sailing. A WhatsApp group had been set up to share live racing updates for fellow fleet members and supporters who were not able to be down in Mylor for the weekend. This proved to be hugely popular and Brian Phipps from Windsport wasted no time in posting pictures showing just how picturesque it all was.

Race One set off on time with a clean start but already the sea breeze was competing with the gradient wind, pulling it round towards the south and creating some interesting shifts and soft patches. With the wind strength dropping, the Race Officer duly shortened the course to two laps. Steve Sawford (Rutland) took the win followed by Liam Thom (Shanklin), Len Flynn (Thorpe Bay) and Jason Clarke (Marconi). Unfortunately, despite the briefing, a few competitors missed out the finish/gate mark at the end of the first lap resulting in a DNF but happily this was not repeated.

In view of the changing conditions, the Race Officer shifted the course clockwise and pulled the marks in to make for slightly shorter laps. Race Two got away with another clean start. Other yachts sailing in the area may have been perplexed to find a windward mark in the middle of the fairway with 45 boats converging around it - but all were courteous and everyone was able to keep safely clear without difficulty. After another two lap race, Steve Sawford took his second win, followed by Liam Thom, Angus Cook (NDYC), Jason Clarke and Skip Atkins (Stone).

The course was able to stand for Race Three and the Race Officer facilitated a quick turnaround, mindful that as the day progressed, the gradient wind might re-assert itself over the sea breeze. The fleet got under way with another clean start in the softening conditions. Jason Clarke led well into the second lap but, unlike the previous race, going right up the beat paid off and resulted in a number of changes at the front of the fleet. By the end of lap two, Angus Cook had taken the lead, with Jenny Ball (Marconi) in second, followed by Jason Clarke, Rob Bailey (TBYC) and Liam Thom. Even as the fleet were finishing, across the water the wind was filling back in from the north, but fortunately everyone was across the finish line before that reached the course.

The sunbaked fleet headed ashore and were grateful for the army of volunteers on hand to bring trolleys and help pull the boats up the slipway into the boat park. Late afternoon was slightly pre-occupied with "tallygate" as some competitors had forgotten to tally off. The Race Officer took some time to reflect on a suitable penalty for failing to comply with what is, in all seriousness, a very important safety requirement despite the benign conditions. In the end, the Race Management team felt everyone had understood the seriousness of the matter and invoked a lighthearted penalty which, rumour has it, involved cream cakes.

The Class Association AGM was then held at the Sailing Club and the Committee were pleased to report on healthy levels of membership, the return of both a full Winter and Summer TT Series post Covid and that a number of brand new Sprint 15s had been sold, three of them being sailed for the very first time this weekend. Equally importantly, many of the new owners have sold on their previous boats, resulting in new members joining the fleet. The AGM was over in under 40 minutes as all good AGMs should be so we could all go and get a beer or cider in the sunshine.

The fleet and their families then headed off to Café Mylor for a wonderful evening meal with views across Mylor Harbour and enjoying great company.

Sunday morning dawned bright, sunny and hot with a similar forecast to the previous day. A short briefing was held to pick up on a few points from racing the day before and also to promote the Pro-Am competition. A long-standing feature of Sprint 15 Nationals - the top ranked sailors following the day one results are paired with those in the second half of the fleet. The aim is for the pairs to swap tips and advice both ashore and on the water and there is a trophy for the highest placed Pro-Am pairing at the end of the event.

Racing was scheduled to start at 11am with four races back to back. Again, there was a promising breeze as the fleet headed out onto the water but by the time racing started, it had dropped back to similar strengths to the previous day.

Race Four got away with another clean start. The breeze was quite patchy across the course and the front of the fleet generally played safe and went up the middle of both the beat and the downwind leg. After a two lap race, Liam Thom took the win, followed by George Love (Carsington), Steve Sawford, Simon Giles (Shanklin) and Jason Clarke.

Race Five was swiftly under way with no change required to the course. Hector Bunclark decided to entertain the fleet by parking one hull either side of Mark 4 - which no-one, including Hector himself, could quite explain how he managed it. In fairness, the reach between mark 3 and 4 was a tactical one with the fleet climbing well above the lay line to gain clear air and hopefully sail over the boats ahead of them and then picking the right time to turn back down again for the mark. Liam Thom again took the win, followed by Len Flynn, George Love, Simon Giles and Angus Cook.

By the start of Race 6, the breeze had shifted further clockwise resulting in much of the fleet favouring the Committee Boat end. Despite the U Flag being deployed since race one, significant congestion at the top of the line meant lots of competitors found themselves over the line. Fortunately for them, a General Recall was required and the Race Officer swiftly restarted the start sequence. A sufficient number of the fleet got caught out in exactly the same way resulting in a second General Recall. The Race Officer then shifted the pin to encourage a greater spread down the line and presumably to reduce the blood pressure levels of the Committee Boat owner. Not surprisingly, the Race Officer also deployed the Black Flag for the next start sequence.

But not to be outdone by the previous two starts, a sizeable number of competitors mistimed their watches and bashed across the start line on the one minute gun. Cue frantic writing down of sail numbers on the Committee Boat and the deployment of the safety boats to pull those competitors who were BFD off the course. The remaining competitors were left slightly bemused and spent the first lap wondering whether the boats around them were actually in the race or not. Meanwhile, true to form, the wind became lighter and the second lap progressed ever more slowly. The excitement did not put Liam Thom off his stride who notched up a third consecutive win, followed by Len Flynn, Steve Sawford, Kevin Kirby (Marconi) and Ray Gall (Carsington). Due to the faltering and shifting wind, it was decided to defer Race 7 to the following morning, a flexibility enabled in the Notice of Race which competitors were very grateful for. It proved to be a wise decision - by the time the fleet was ashore and back in the boat park, the wind had pretty much fallen away completely. But not before the entire fleet had tallied off in record breaking time.

After sailing, a representative from English Braid gave an interesting talk about different types and properties of rope, the manufacturing processes and design considerations for different uses. Attendees were particularly struck at how each rope on the Sprint 15 is specifically chosen and designed for its given purpose - something most of us never give a thought to and definitely food for thought when replacing lines over time.

After a few drinks in the sunshine at Windsport - the fleet headed off for the annual Class Association Dinner at Castaways Restaurant. Another meal with fantastic views across Mylor Harbour and with plenty to talk about following an eventful day on the water. The Association were also pleased to host guests Tom, Clari, Brian and Cookie from Windsport, Chris, the Race Officer, Malcom Bell, the brave owner of the Committee Boat and Ian and Jeni Fraser - Ian, of course, being the founding figure behind the Sprint 15 itself.

Monday dawned another bright and sunny day - an unprecedented run for any UK sailing event ever. The decision had been taken to start racing at the earlier time of 10am. Fortunately, the gradient wind filled in pretty early and looked set to hold the invading sea breeze at bay more successfully than the previous two days.

Race Seven therefore started in a decent breeze and the fleet enjoyed stretching their legs with a bit of hiking for a change. The Committee Boat end was busy again and Steve Sawford very uncharacteristically found himself with nowhere to go but over the line just before the start. Conversely, youth Helm and 2 Up boat, Sophia and Sean McKenna blasted off the pin end and sailed a fantastic race, enjoying the breezier conditions. The first reach also saw the only two capsizes of the regatta with Donald Sloan (Felixtowe Ferry) and Rob Bailey both succumbing to gusts and pitchpoling. True to form, Liam Thom took the race win after three enjoyable laps, followed by Angus Cook with Sophia and Sean in third, Ed Tuite Dalton (Draycote) in fourth and Hector Bunclark (NDYC) in fifth.

The breeze dropped back slightly for Race Eight although there were still decent puffs to be had in places, particularly over on the left hand side of the course for those brave enough to bang that far corner. The pin end starters generally fared best although there was some excitement in that group when David Ball (Marconi) fell off his two-up boat. His ten year old crew was left on board wondering why they weren't moving until he turned round and found his dad wasn't there anymore. It turned out the toe strap had come untied (the crew vehemently denies he had any involvement in this) and fortunately David was still attached to the boat and able to climb back on board after his brief swim. Liam Thom went on to put in a very impressive straight fifth win, followed by Skip Atkins, Hector Bunclark, Geoff Tindale and Angus Cook.

Race Nine got under way promptly, the race management team and competitors both keen to complete the final race before the sea breeze could play its tricks again. The pin end was generally favourable although a large group of the fleet opted for the middle of the line. The wind backed just as the gun went leaving the mid-line group trying to bear away to the new direction and get some clear air from each other. At the pin end, the boats furthest down found it a struggle to get past the buoy although those just above the pin had a cracking start. But the star of the show was Len Flynn who had been brave enough to try a port hand flyer and with the added lift got clean away and was never seen again by those behind him. Several of the mid-line starters tacked off onto port as a result of the shift but staying out towards the left hand side of the course paid off overall. With the wind continuing to soften, Len Flynn went on to take a very convincing win, with Liam Thom second narrowly holding off Jason Clarke and followed by Ed Tuite Dalton and Steve Sawford.

The fleet headed back ashore marvelling at a regatta where shorts and t-shirts were the sailing gear of choice for three whole days. The prize-giving was kindly supported by Visit Cornwall with glassware provided by our longstanding suppliers, Majestic Crystal. It took place in the warm afternoon sun hosted by Jenny Ball, Events Secretary and her able assistant/nephew John, the youngest competitor of the event. Ian Fraser had kindly agreed to be guest of honour and present the prizes.

RWO - class suppliers and event supporters - had kindly donated a mainsheet ratchet block as an event prize. The fleet were very pleased to present this to Josh Fisk from Felixtowe Ferry. Josh is a youth sailor who had only joined the class a few weeks ago and had put in a very impressive performance at the Nationals.

English Braid - class suppliers and event supporters - had also kindly donated a full set of rope rigging for a Sprint 15. This was awarded by picking a sail number from a hat and we were delighted that Josh Seddon sailing 1736, also from Felixstowe Ferry, was drawn as the winner.

We then moved on to the Individual Prizes. Competitors with notable achievements (positive or otherwise) were awarded book vouchers supported by Fernhurst Books to add to their sailing based library. Winners of these prestigious awards included: Mark Aldridge who would have defended his National Champion title from last year if he had not fallen off a motorbike and damaged his shoulder - but still came along and helped out with the event. Paul Craft for being hit and sustaining hull damage before the first start but still completed the regatta with the help of plenty of tape. Hector for parking on Mark 4. Donald Sloan for being one of only two capsizes. Rob Bailey for getting 4th in one race, BFD in another and capsizing in yet another. Daren Fitchew for retiring thinking he was Black Flagged but he actually wasn't. Yvonne Pike for accidentally dropping her mainsheet and bumping into Peter Richardson at the start of Race 9 and Peter Richardson for telling the Committee Boat all about it until the RO suggested that perhaps he should focus more on the race now it had actually started. David Ball for abandoning his crew or John Ball for trying to get rid of his helm, depending on which story you believe.

Following a consistent run of winning Individual Prizes for several years - a new perpetual "Jim Bowie Award" was introduced for the first time. It was awarded to Jim this year for wearing a dry suit in 25 degree heat but assuring the Events Secretary that it was fine because it leaked terribly. So the suit would drag him to the bottom if he fell in but at least he would be cooled down too.

The important trophies were then handed out: Youth trophy to Sophia McKenna, Over 50 to Liam Thom, Over 60 to Len Flynn and Over 70 to Stuart Snell. The Heavyweight trophy went to Jon Pearse (Marconi), the Pro Am Trophy went to Sam Rowell (Felixtowe Ferry) and Most Improved trophy somehow went to Jason Clarke for the second year running so presumably he will be National Champion next year. The Most Persistent Trophy went to Pete Sherwin (Stone).

We then proceeded with glassware for 12th place upwards and the metal ware for race winners and the top of the fleet.

David and John Ball won the 2 up cup following an extremely close fought regatta with Sophia and Sean McKenna. In four of the nine races, the two boats were only one or two places apart - it was definitely one of the most interesting aspects of the weekend's racing.

Angus Cook took third place overall and winner trophy for Race 3.

Steve Sawford took second place overall and winner trophies for Races 1 & 2.

Liam Thom was race winner for Races 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 and a very convincing single handed champion and Sprint 15 National Champion for 2022.

The Sprint 15 Association would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to everyone at Windsport for hosting and to Chris Cleaves, Malcom Bell and all the volunteers for enabling such good racing. We would also like to thank all the other organisations that supported the event: Restronguet Sailing Club, Visit Cornwall, Healey's Cider, RWO, English Braid, Fernhurst Books and Majestic Crystal.

We look forward to visiting our home waters for another Nationals in the near future.

Overall Results:

PosHelmSail NoClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
1Liam Thom2034Shanklin Sailing Club2251111129
2Steve Sawford2033Rutland Water Sailing Club117363BFD7526
3Angus Cook1989North Devon Yacht Club6317510252629
4Len Flynn2031Thorpe Bay Yacht Club31110622912133
5Jason Clarke1917Marconi Sailing Club44351113128338
6Simon Giles2029Shanklin Sailing Club1210644BFD714649
7 ¹Skip Atkins2032Stone Sailing Club5592313BFD621656
8 ¹Ed Tuite Dalton2023Draycote Water Sailing Club101919187746456
9George Love2019Carsington Sailing Club11711231413231057
10Hector Bunclark1932North Devon Yacht Club792712206531860
11Jenny Ball2025Marconi Sailing Club962818168181362
12Paul Craft1982Worthing Sailing Club241215108241115879
13David Ball & John Ball1923Marconi Sailing Club151513151491830788
14Stuart Snell2022Grafham Water Sailing Club816162612BFD16111291
15Sophia McKenna & Sean McKenna2018Shanklin Sailing ClubDNF1414201618321994
16Geoff Tindale2017Stone Sailing Club212581625BFD14414102
17Rob Bailey1755Thorpe Bay Yacht Club231841110BFD321038108
18Ray Gall2028Carsington Sailing Club13132219385232417112
19Jon Pearse1988Marconi Sailing Club17211213919253125116
20 ¹Nigel James2015Marconi Sailing Club2082614348222530123
21 ¹Andrew Heath1256North Devon Yacht Club142630919BFD191719123
22Kevin Kirby1776Marconi Sailing Club18202417374212724128
23Jim Bowie2021Thorpe Bay Yacht Club1624312823BFD101615132
24Samuel Rowell1984Felixstowe Ferry Sailing ClubDNF292922242015920139
25Richard Chidwick2004North Devon Yacht Club292828251712171928146
26Donald Sloan1896Felixstowe Ferry Sailing ClubDNF1717362121343511156
27Peter Richardson1983Marconi Sailing Club19312029221730DNF22159
28Yvonne Pike1965Shanklin Sailing Club28232121301526DNF31164
29Jan Elfring2030Draycote Water Sailing ClubDNF34352426BFD201323175
30Joshua Fisk1115Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club253044393111422621183
31Derek James1744Draycote Water Sailing Club3422423029BFD242229190
32Simon Rowell1985Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club323732311522332936194
33Dave Clarke1521Marconi Sailing Club223533272831292833198
34Daren Fitchew1642Thorpe Bay Yacht Club3538253340DNF272042218
35Ian Mounce1908North Devon Yacht Club373618373326393732219
36Andy Bunyan1899Stewartby Water Sports Club333237352725353640223
37Keith Heason1424North Devon Yacht Club404235283223403927224
38Paul Harrison1919RYA274334414128313237230
39Andrew Berisford2026Draycote Water Sailing Club263338323930384034231
40Keith Chidwick2016Queen Mary Sailing ClubDNF3923433529363839239
41Colin Wright1292Stewartby Water Sports Club314040423627374243253
42Mark Patten1893Stewartby Water Sports Club3027413442BFD434141256
43Sam Seddon1736Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club394143444434283445263
44Peter Sherwin1834Stone Sailing Club364439454332413344268
45Wayne Silver1841North Devon Yacht Club38DNFDNC40DNF33444335280

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