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Dart 15 TT & Northern Championships at Carsington Sailing Club

by Sam Wood 12 Sep 2023 18:19 BST 9-10 September 2023
Race Start during the Dart 15 TT at Carsington © Pauline Love

Eight Dart 15 travellers joined four members of the home club to compete in the picturesque setting of Carsington Water on the edge of the Peak District.

August had been a wet and often wild month across Derbyshire but this race weekend saw baking hot sunshine but with it very light winds. This led to testing conditions out on the racecourse with changes in wind direction, small pockets of breeze that competitors hoped to exploit and a high degree of concentration required to cross the finish line.

All age groups were once again excellently represented across the two-day event consisting of two races on the Saturday and three on the Sunday.

The nationally regarded home club race management team which was made up of PRO Henry Wright and ARO's Keith Appleby and Andrew Willatt were brilliantly assisted by the mark laying and safety team of Murray Leiper and Jackie Crafter. A trapezoidal course was laid on both days.

Temperatures more associated with the tropics greeted the competitors on Day 1. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. With a very light breeze, pockets of still calm water and wind direction shifts, it was a day when big leads could soon be reduced to big losses and vice versa.

Race 1 consisted of two laps. Jason Clarke (Marconi) led after the first hotly pursued by club mates Jon Pearce (Marconi) and then Jenny Ball (Marconi). Behind the front three George Love (Carsington) traded places with David Ball (Marconi) sailing two up with his son John. But it was Jon Pearce that came up trumps taking the lead in the second lap and with it his first ever race win.

Race 2 saw the two-up team of David and John Ball move up the standings taking the win on a single lap race closely followed by Jason Clarke and Jenny Ball. So Marconi took all the prizes again in race two, a race which saw the wind drop to barely 3 knots in the run to the finish line. Further back in the fleet, boats were closely bunched together and competitors searched for pockets of wind to give them slight advantage. Close finishes ensued between Jemma Clarke (Marconi) who had initially led the fleet around the windward mark from Ed Tuite Dalton (Draycote), David Clarke (Marconi) and Sam Wood (Carsington).

With the wind dying away in the afternoon the fleet retired for the day. Returning to the clubhouse for food, drink and plenty of discussion about the days racing events.

Day 2 on the Sunday saw the weather break with rain showers replacing sun. The wind remained very light, shifting direction at times but also dropping away. These really were testing conditions that demanded concentration and awareness to take advantage of any small gusts that could propel a boat forward.

Race 3 and George Love had come out fighting, leading all three laps from the get go and finishing the race with a huge lead to take the gun. David and John Ball came in second closely followed by Jenny Ball and Ed Tuite Dalton. There was also jockeying for places further back with Stephen Roberts (Dee), Jon Pearce and David Clarke trading places and positions throughout the three laps.

Race 4 and Jemma Clarke was again first to the windward mark to pull out a huge lead over the chasing pack when they ended up bunched at the windward mark as a result of a huge windshift. At mark 3 a large hole in the wind saw Jemma stalled and parked as the front runners sailed past in wind just a few meters away. Jason Clarke completed the one lap race in very testing, light conditions and took his first win of the weekend. Ray Gall (Carsington) finished second with an excellent fourth race that pushed him up the results table on day two.

Race 5 was to be the final one of the day. Conditions had become progressively more difficult with little to no wind in places and just small pockets of wind of which to take advantage. Russell Briggs (Carsington) made an excellent start battling his way to the first mark with the other competitors. Ed Tuite Dalton went on to take the win, his first of the weekend closely followed by Jenny Ball and Jason Clarke who had sailed consistently well throughout the whole event.

5 races completed with a different winner in each and some memorable moments despite the light conditions.

A prize-giving in the clubhouse recognized the overall top six finishers of Jason, David and John Ball, Jenny, George, Ed, and Jon.

The race management team received much thanks and tributes for their hard work and constant vigilance on the course moving marks and making the races happen in trying conditions. They noted that many other classes would have given up on day one in such difficult conditions but not the intrepid Dart 15 competitors who had completed five races and made a real, competitive weekend of it.

Special appreciation was shown to mark layer Murray who had raced around the lake like a bagatelle ball to reset every mark on the course singlehandedly between races on the Sunday in double quick time.

Congratulations to Jason Clarke on an excellent two days of sailing to take his first Carsington TT victory and the 2023 Northern Champion trophy - well sailed that lad from the south!

A note of thanks to Kim and John Vant for preparing hearty fare to refuel all the competitors on Saturday and serving the drinks to wash it down! Also, many thanks to Pauline Love for the fantastic photographs which document another great weekend on the water.

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