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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Sprint 15 Inland Championship and Summer TT at Rutland Sailing Club

by Jenny Ball 27 Oct 2022 06:16 BST 22-23 October 2022
Youngest competitor John and his dad during the Sprint 15 Inlands at Rutland © Steve Pell

The Inland Championships and final Summer TT of the year is always a popular event in the Sprint 15's year-round events calendar.

Historically, this always takes place as part of the Grafham Cat Open - where the Sprint 15s make up the largest fleet at the event. But this year, the weather intervened and the effects of the drought meant that Grafham did not have the capacity to host all the fleets it would usually invite to the Cat Open. As such, the Sprint 15s found themselves without an event with two weeks to go until Rutland Sailing Club stepped in and saved the day at very short notice.

Twenty-five Sprint 15s arrived on 22nd October to a warm welcome, very pleasant October sunshine, a decent breeze and the lovely surroundings of Rutland Water. Commodore Nick Neve and Cat Fleet Captain Mikey Vernall welcomed the Sprint 15s and the Dart 18 single handed championship competitors to the club and Race Officer Antonio Dionisio gave a quick briefing about the day's racing.

The fleet set off to the far end of the lake in the autumn sunshine and around 15 knots of breeze with some stronger gusts coming through at times and subtle windshifts to make the upwind legs tactically interesting. A square course had been set with the Dart 18s starting first and Sprint 15s following on.

The first race got under way right on schedule with a clean start. Jon Pearse (Marconi) reached the windward mark first with Steve Sawford (Rutland) on his heels and a group of front runners close behind for the lively reach across to mark 2. On the downwind leg, Jenny Ball (Marconi) and Liam Thom (Shanklin) gybed early and managed to get to mark 3 just ahead of Jon and Steve. Another lively reach to mark 4 and the fleet then turned upwind, through the start/finish line and the all important upwind leg.

Tactics varied between making the long board out to the left or tacking earlier and either heading out to the right or tacking up the middle track. All whilst wondering whether the large whirlpool in the middle of the course was some sort of aeration process or the impending rise of the Kraken. After three closely fought laps, Jenny managed to hold on to the lead with Liam in second, Steve in third, Ed Tuite-Dalton (Draycote) in fourth and Keith Persin (Thorpe Bay) in fifth.

After a quick turnround, race two got under way and Jon Pearse was again first to the windward mark with Angus Cook, (NDYC), David & John Ball (Marconi), Steve, Jenny, Liam, Ed and Jan Elfring (Draycote) all in close pursuit. David & John gybed clear of the pack in two sail mode and Liam sailed an impressive downwind leg overhauling much of the pack. Unfortunately, there was a collision between Jan and Jenny which holed Jenny's boat, requiring her to retire and be towed back to the club in submarine mode. Meanwhile, Liam had got to the front of the pack with David and John chasing. After another three lap blast round the cans, Liam took the win, followed by David and John, Angus, Steve, Ed and Jason.

By the start of race three, the breeze had softened in line with the forecast and with distinct different areas of pressure moving across the course. A couple of port hand flyers plus a few of the fleet headed right off the start line although this did not pay on the first lap. Those who headed left fared best at the first mark led by Jason, Liam, Steve, David and John and followed by George Love (Carsington), Yvonne Pike (Shanklin) and Angus. Jenny had returned to the course on Jan's boat which he had loaned her for race three. Taking a middle route up the second windward leg moved Jenny up the pack and into the group that were battling it out whilst Jason and Liam were having their own private race at the front. The third upwind leg proved to be equally tactical in a softening breeze resulting in another shuffle of places for the final lap. Liam went on to take the win with Jason in second, Steve in third, Jenny in fourth, Angus in fifth and Yvonne in sixth.

The fleet had a gentle sail back to the club after a great day one of racing. There was a flurry of activity as running repairs were made on a number of boats in the park. Tom Phipps from Windsport was also on hand providing spares and helping those looking to improve their boat's performance based on learnings from the day. Meanwhile a crack team of experts executed a temporary repair on Jenny's boat involving a hair dryer, a heat gun, the large piece of fiberglass that had been punched out of the boat and copious amounts of tape. Yet more tape was applied to Jan's boat. Both competitors were all set to sail again the following day.

The fleet had a very enjoyable evening meal at the club courtesy of the excellent caterers at Rutland SC and lots of talk in the bar about the day's happenings and the mixed set of forecasts for the following day.

As forecast, Sunday dawned in the pouring of rain for several hours which was flattening off the wind on the lake and also some competitors' enthusiasm to take to the water. Whilst the rain was due to stop by lunchtime, the forecast also showed a fairly significant wind shift during the middle of the day which would require a re-laying of the course. The Race Officer consulted with fleet representatives and decided to postpone the start by half an hour. By the time the fleet set off, it was still raining but a good breeze had filled in and the competitors sped across the lake to the start area at the far end.

Race four got away cleanly at the re-scheduled start time. Steve got a clear start at the Committee Boat end and was leading at the windward mark followed by Angus, Jason, Jenny and Keith. The breeze continued to build with gusts exceeding 20 knots making both the upwind and downwind courses a game of trying to put yourself where the biggest patches of pressure were likely to come through. Steve held on to his lead to the end of the race. Jenny managed to catch up with Angus and a last minute header at the finish line allowed her to tack back on to port and just pip into second place. Jason managed to hold off Liam in a similar manner to take fourth and fifth respectively, with Jan in sixth place.

Almost as soon as the fleet had finished and the RO was gearing up for the next race, the rain stopped and the wind fell away to nothing. And went round in circles for good measure. The fleet drifted around for an extended period of time enjoying the sunshine and wondering if it really was the same day that they had set off in the pouring rain. The fleet took the opportunity to chat amongst each other and to check that the repair was holding good and Jenny was not sinking. Eventually everyone's patience was rewarded and the wind filled in from the south east, entirely in line with the forecast. It was only a gentle breeze but the Race Officer wasted no time re-setting the course and getting the start sequence under way. By the time the race started, the wind had filled back up to a very healthy force 4 which was a pleasant surprise for everyone.

Starting at the committee boat end again proved favourable to pick up the occasional lift as gusts came through. The fleet headed up the shorter beat and had to decide which side to take the enormous tower that was now in the middle of the upwind leg. Those who stood on further fared best and Jenny was first round the windward mark followed by Charles Watson (Halifax), with Ed, Steve, Jason and Liam behind. By the end of lap two, Liam had overhauled the others to reach second place and chase Jenny round the final lap of the course. Jenny managed to hold on to take the win, with Liam second, Charles third, Ed fourth and Steve in fifth place. A few calculations worked out that there were only two points between the potential winners of the event who were also both vying for the overall Summer Series. So it was all to play for on the final race.

By the start of race six, the wind had softened to around 10 knots and was a little more shifty. Angus and Jason led off the start line and again, it paid to stand on further for the windward mark, which had been moved so that it was no longer hiding behind the tower. Jenny reached the windward mark first, followed by Angus, Jason and Steve. By the end of the first lap, Steve had worked his way into second place. On the second beat, some of the fleet split away and headed right but Jenny and Steve stood on which proved to be more beneficial. By the end of the race, Jenny had held on to the lead with Steve in second, Jason third, Angus fourth, Stuart Snell (Grafham) fifth and Liam in sixth.

Against the odds - at an event that nearly did not take place, in a boat with a big hole in it and a lost race, Jenny had done enough to win the event and also to defend her Summer Series title. Our youngest competitor, John aged ten, came an impressive eight with his dad David. And Abbie Clarke (Stone SC) won the Youth Trophy putting in a great performance in challenging wind conditions.

We would like to thank those volunteers from the Sprint 15s and Dart 18s who helped crew the safety boats and committee boat - Zak, Steve, Steve, Claire and Gav.

And a big thanks to Antonio, Mikey, Nick and everyone at Rutland for agreeing to host us at two week's notice and for laying on such a fantastic event. The Sprint 15s and Dart 18s are looking forward to returning to Rutland for their Cat Open in May 2023.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st2025Jenny Ball1(DNC)42119
2nd2034Liam Thom21152‑611
3rd2033Steve Sawford3431‑5213
4th1917Jason Clarke‑96246321
5th1989Angus Cook6353‑9421
6th2023Edward Tuite Dalton45‑1084728
7th1237Charles Watson77‑1193834
8th1923David Ball‑1027107935
9th2022Stuart Snell‑118978537
10th1965Yvonne Pike‑2014616101056
11th2019George Love‑1713811111356
12th2015Nigel James1510131413‑1765
13th2030Jan Elfring13(DNC)DNC6141271
14th1755Robert Bailey1491213(DNC)DNC74
15th1981Keith Persin5161612(DNC)DNC75
16th1988Jon Pearse811152219(OCS)75
17th1930Jeremy Franklin1812‑2020121476
18th1744Derek James1615181517‑2081
19th1339Jemma Clarke‑24201917181185
20th2028Ray Gall‑19181718161685
21st1879Rob Bard222114‑23211896
22nd1546Andy Bunyan‑23192221152198
23rd1359Scott Wilcox121723(DNC)DNCDNC104
24th1521David Clarke21(DNC)DNC192019105
25th1790Abbie Clarke25(DNC)21242215107

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