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Sprint 15 Sport National Championship at North Devon Yacht Club

by Fraser Manning & Liam Bunclark 15 Oct 2022 10:42 BST 1-3 October 2022

Forty-Four Sprint 15 sailors registered to race and gathered at the home of the North Devon Yacht Club at Instow on Friday the 30th September for the Sport Nationals - the three day regatta for single-handed Sprint 15 catamarans with main, jib and trapeze.

This was the highest turnout in over 14 years for the Sprint 15 Sport Mode Nationals, with four youth sailors taking part. As the boat is to be rebranded the Dart 15 for 2023, the health and quality of the fleet is in good shape looking forward.

Due to an early tide, the first race was set off promptly just after 9:00am by race officer Jonathan Miles in a blustery force 4-6 westerly, with a 'P' course in a swelling estuary. With most of the sailors half asleep still or wary of the conditions as a squall came through, the race gun went off with three quarters of the racers hanging back off the start line. Paul Grattage (Shanklin) led the first race from start to gun, Sam Heaton (NDYC) and Hector Bunclark (NDYC) were fighting it out for second and third.

With more competitors on the line, Sean McKenna (Shanklin) got the best of the starts in the second race and although Grattage lead the majority of the race, McKenna snook past on the last run to take the line honours. Heaton again was in his element taking 3rd place. With over half the fleet capsizing as the wind speed increased and with three masts coming down the race committee decided it was time to head in for the day.

There was an excellent, very well-attended meal on the Saturday night, with a photo slide show on the big screen of the day's carnage. Overnight positions were; Grattage first, McKenna second and Heaton in third, all separated by just 2 points.

Sunday arrived with less wind than forecast, with a north westerly force 2. After an hour's delay caused by lack of and shifting winds, it was McKenna who capitalised on the tricky light winds in race 3 to take the bullet. Richard Chidwick (NYDC) had his best result at a National Championship, finishing 2nd place, showing superb boat speed with Angus Cook (NDYC) finishing 3rd.

In race 4, Angus Cook (NDYC) completed the Holy Grail of racing - a port flyer. He lead the first lap, followed by Fraser Manning (NDYC) and Liam Thom (Shanklin), with Manning choosing to go left up the 2nd beat and Cook deciding to cover, Thom sailed over to the right hand side, together with McKenna, and they were never caught. The race finished with Thom 1st, McKenna 2nd and Manning 3rd.

With racing delayed and light winds the race officer sent the competitors ashore. With Grattage having a bad day at the office (8th & 6th), McKenna was now comfortably leading the regatta overnight. Much talking in the bar that night was about who could catch him!

Monday morning was another light wind day with max force 2 winds from the south. Race 5 was where the battle for the title really mounted amongst the top 6 sailors. Manning & Steve Sawford (Rutland SC) built up a big lead by staying in the current, with Sawford delivering under pressure to take the win, Jenny Ball (Marconi SC) comfortable took 3rd place.

In the 6th race, the race committee laid a triangular course. In the light winds, clean air and not falling foul of the current was again the key. Thom got clear and Hector Bunclark continued to be consistent with a well-deserved 2nd place and Sawford was third. After a great start, Charles Watson (Halifax SC) sailed fantastically to finish 4th.

Thom was in-tune with his boat and skilfully sailed through the fleet to finish 1st comfortably, to put serious pressure on McKenna's title hopes. McKenna who was licking his wounds from a 14th place in race 5, was one of those to suffer and could only finish 13th place.

The Race Committee changed the course for the final race with an upwind and downwind modern Olympic sausage course with a devilish windward mark in the back eddy of Appledore, which caught almost everyone out with some taking 3 attempts to get round it. Too many tried to find a gap coming in on port and if ever a race mark became Piccadilly Circus, this was it!

Thom shot off from the middle of the line and could not be caught by a frantically chasing McKenna. Manning finished 2nd in the race and for McKenna 3rd place was too little too late.

The last day had shuffled the overall scores, With Thom taking the title, knocking Mckenna into 2nd and Hector Bunclark into 3rd. Grattage just missed out on the podium, finishing fourth.

Having been very ill for a year and still in recovery, previous champion Fraser Manning's fifth place achievement was exceptional and with Liam Thom also winning the Una Rig Nationals, 2022 will certainly be a year to remember for him.

Thom Britton (NDYC) was the new winner of the Youth National title with a creditable 28th place overall, Jenny Ball was first lady and our Chairman Ed Tuite Dalton (Draycote SC) was the first over sixty helmsman. The heavyweight Champion was Paul Grattage. Steve Sawford and Ian Mounce (NDYC) took the Pro-Am trophy.

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

1Liam Thom2034Shanklin Sailing ClubDNF64181121
2Sean McKenna2018Shanklin Sailing Club41121413324
3Hector Bunclark1951North Devon Yacht Club3419762729
4Paul Grattage458Shanklin Sailing Club1286186831
5Fraser Manning1977North Devon Yacht Club15553217232
6Steve Sawford2033Rutland Water Sailing Club6DNF121013436
7Angus Cook1989North Devon Yacht Club201334416545
8Jenny Ball2025Marconi Sailing Club141261137948
9Richard Chidwick2004North Devon Yacht Club6821211102849
10Sam Heaton1972North Devon Yacht Club2311137151551
11Ed Tuite Dalton2023Draycote Water Sailing Club1314915178665
12Charles Watson1237Halifax Sailing Club25111317941266
13Mark Aldridge2027Grafham Water Sailing Club111024815141068
14Chris Murphy1927Shanklin Sailing Club57171621271682
15Eric Evans1200North Devon Yacht Club1019201916331498
16George Love2019Carsington Sailing ClubDNCDNC7912523100
17Jon Pearse1988Marconi Sailing Club18151820133217101
18Jes Firth1615North Devon Yacht ClubDNFDNS15552419112
19David Grant1943North Devon Yacht Club8222226312513116
20Joe Mellows1500North Devon Yacht Club24201034242220120
21Alex Raymont525North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC272210911123
22Derek James1744Draycote Water Sailing Club22171430222130126
23Keith Heason1424North Devon Yacht Club9233314DNC2624129
24Simon Fleet1936North Devon Yacht Club19163132232025134
25Jan Elfring2030Draycote Water Sailing Club1692625333629138
26Ian Mounce1908North Devon Yacht Club26212833192321138
27Ray Gall2028Carsington Sailing ClubDNCDNC3018201126149
28Thom Britton1545North Devon Yacht ClubDNS243424271232153
29Keith Chidwick2016Queen Mary Sailing Club23DNF3628261931163
30Liam Bunclark1932North Devon Yacht Club17DNF16362928DNF170
31Peter Sherwin2017Stone Sailing Club27DNC3929371827177
32Ben Penny1912North Devon Yacht Club12DNC25313235DNF179
33Yvonne Pike1965Shanklin Sailing ClubDNCDNC3221283422181
34Donald Sloan1896Brightlingsea Sailing ClubDNF182323DNCDNCDNC196
35Andrew Heath1893North Devon Yacht Club21DNC2127DNCDNCDNC201
36Wayne Silver1841North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC4037DNF3118214
37Samuel Wood1914Carsington Sailing ClubDNSDNC3735DNC3033223
38Jonathan Kilham1396North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC3538343735223
39Colin Sibthorpe1256North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC4140362934224
40Toby White94North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC294130DNFDNF232
41John Bowler1297North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNC38393838DNC241
42Nick Pulman1877Carsington Sailing ClubDNCDNCDNSDNCDNCDNCDNC264
42Stephan Comut1906North Devon Yacht ClubDNCDNCDNFDNCDNCDNCDNC264

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