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Dart 15 Summer TT Draycote Water Sailing Club

by Iain Taylor 9 Jul 19:29 BST 6 July 2024

On Saturday, 6th July, Draycote Water Sailing Club welcomed 17 Dart 15 sailors to the club. Special mention goes to Liam Thom and Yvonne Pike, who crossed the Solent to join us from Shanklin Sailing Club, and Ian Mounce and Keith Heason, who traveled up from Instow to represent North Devon Sailing Club.

The weather gods were with us, and a fresh westerly force four greeted everyone, with the promise of conditions picking up a little more throughout the day. Once set up, everyone was welcomed to the club during the race briefing managed by Race Officer Pete Slater, ably assisted by Steve Pell. Pete explained that there would be four 45-minute back-to-back races, with three to count around a square course. After wishing everyone luck, the sailors took to the water, and the fun began.

Race One

Race One started promptly, with everyone figuring out which end of the line to start from, with most starting on starboard tack. Everyone started cleanly, which set the tone for all the starts of the day. Mark Aldridge led from the very start, closely followed by Jenny Ball and Jason Clarke. Mark pulled away on the beat but was caught up on the downwind legs. There was tight racing throughout the fleet, with each position being heavily contested. A lost mainsheet or a late tack meant losing positions, a trend that continued throughout the day. Somewhere along the race, Jason lost a hatch cover and had to turn around to recover it, losing positions to Steve Sawford, Ed Tuite-Dalton, and Liam Thom. In the end, Mark lost out to Jenny, who squeezed through near the last mark, with Jenny holding on to take the win.

1st: Jenny Ball 2nd: Mark Aldridge 3rd: Steve Sawford

Race Two

Race Two started swiftly afterward, following the same course, with the main protagonists up front throughout the race. Keith Heason, having not been able to go for his usual cold water swim on a Saturday morning, decided he needed to capsize to cool off on the second lap just near the windward mark. Also worthy of note was a certain call for starboard from Ray Gall on Jan Elfing. Jan, in his own unique way, pointed out to Ray that it was Jan who was on "Starboard," eliciting chuckles when Ray had to bear off. Race Two finished in a similar fashion to Race One, with Jenny, Jason, and Mark at the front. This time, with Jason's hatch securely fastened, he managed to hold his position behind Jenny, securing her second win out of two races.

1st: Jenny Ball 2nd: Jason Clarke 3rd: Mark Aldridge

Between Race Two and Three, Jenny spoke to the committee boat to have the pin end brought up a bit, as she thought there was a bit of a port bias.

Race Three

Race Three started with at least one member of the fleet unaware of this conversation. As the start approached, the entire fleet was tightly packed on starboard except for one lone cat hovering around near the pin end. As the start hooter sounded, this solo brave/idiotic soul hit the pin end bang on the money at full speed and went screaming across in front of the whole fleet. With a distant call of "STARBOARD" ringing in his ear, Iain Taylor kept 'Soggy Moggy' level and, with an inner mantra of "please wind, don't die on me," managed to make it safely across. Unfortunately, the wind was a bit flaky on the far shore, and Iain's lead didn't last long as he handed back the race lead to the usual suspects. Race Three was particularly frustrating for Draycote's own Jeremy Franklin, who was jockeying for fifth position until the second time around the windward mark, where he got stuck in irons and went sailing backward nearly as fast as he was going forward, losing about nine places. Further down the fleet, downwind tactics were very important. Derek James and Andy Bunyan were nip and tuck with each other in the later races, with Derek covering off Andy every time as he bore away. Andy took the tactic of heading on a dead port run while Derek gybed off. Andy won the tactical decision, making it to the mark just before Derek, but Derek overtook again to win that battle.

Race Three ended with Jason improving on his second place from Race Two to take his first win, closely followed by Liam Thom, who took his first podium position of the day.

1st: Jason Clarke 2nd: Liam Thom 3rd: Mark Aldridge

Race Four

Race Four saw the promised wind picking up just as people were starting to get tired and forearms were starting to ache. Iain decided not to push his luck a second time, and the entire fleet crossed the line bunched together on starboard. This time, Steve Sawford took the lead and held it for most of the race. As the wind picked up, the sight of a Dart 15 on one hull was beautiful, though the look of panic when bearing off on the windward mark and realizing that the traveller was still too far in and a potential pitch pole imminent was evident. Steve ran away from Jenny and Jason on the beats, but the two lighter-weight sailors caught up with him on the downwind legs. Steve finally lost out to Jason 100 yards from the final mark, only for Jason to capsize just before the line. There were two different responses from those closest to him: Jenny called out to make sure that Jason was okay but didn't slow down too much as she knows from experience how quickly Jason can recover from a capsize, while Steve apparently was giggling to himself (quite loudly) once he saw Jason was okay. Jason managed to right himself quickly enough and still managed to come across the line in fifth place.

1st: Steve Sawford 2nd: Jenny Ball 3rd: Liam Thom

Prize Giving

Prize giving was presented by Ed Tuite-Dalton with special thanks to Pete Slater and Steve Pell as race officers for what everyone agreed was a tightly run event, with a perfectly set course, perfectly set start line, and very prompt turnarounds between races. Marconi Sailing Club had an exceptional event with two of their sailors podiuming in the overall results.

A special prize was given to Iain Taylor for his port flyer in the third race.

Congratulations to Jenny for an extremely successful and skillful day of racing. Great tactics won through, winning with half the points of the next contender.

Final thanks go to the staff and management of Draycote Water Sailing Club for providing the safety cover and the wonderful facility. Hopefully, it was clear to see why they won the RYA Club of the Year for 2024.

Next up, after an extended break, is the Northern Championships, this year hosted by Carsington Sailing Club on the 21st/22nd of September. Entry should open in the middle of August. I am personally looking forward to taking part in my first traveling event, and I hope to see a few of you all there.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3R4Pts
1st2025Jenny BallMarconi SC11‑724
2nd2037Jason ClarkeMarconi SC‑62158
3rd66Mark AldridgeGWSC233‑48
4th2033Steve Sawford 35‑619
5th2034Liam ThomShanklin Sailing Club5‑62310
6th2023Ed Tuite DaltonDraycote Water444‑612
7th2030Jan ElfringDraycote77‑9822
8th1940Derek JamesDraycote8‑1251023
9th2035Jon PearseMarconi Sailing Club‑12910726
10th2028Ray GallCarsington sailing Club910‑11928
11th1965Yvonne PikeShanklin Sailing Club1388‑1629
12th1930Jeremy FranklinDraycote1011‑131233
13th1899Andy BunyanStewartby1113‑141135
14th1521David ClarkeMarconi S C‑1414121339
15th861Iain TaylorDraycote Water Sailing Club‑1515151444
16th1908Ian MounceNDYC16‑17161547
17th1424Keith HeasonNDYC(DNF)1617DNF51

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