The Sprint 15 winter traveller series was concluded at Grafham on Sunday 25 March.
Stuart Snell. Photo: Sprint 15 Association UK
It was our most successful Winter Series ever with a new record attendance of 32 boats at Stewartby and 22 helms qualifying for the series with three or more results. Stuart Snell of Grafham was the eventual winner on tiebreak from Mark Aldridge, also of Grafham.
All five events were held in a mixture of testing conditions.
The series kicked off at Stewartby in November with the record attendance of 32 boats (12 locals and 20 travellers). Light wind prevailed and light wind expert, Stuart Snell, won with two guns from Howard Hawkes in second and last years Winter Series champion, Peter Slater, of Draycote, third. Simon Miles proved to be the top local sailor and clocked up a second place in the second race.
The Carsington open was held on 3 December and by contrast it was a day of strong winds and tricky gusts coming over and around the surrounding hills. 17 travellers were joined by two locals for the thrills and spills. It was heavy weather expert Mark Aldridge who toughed it out to take two guns and the event from Snell and Jon Finch (Stewartby). The Draycote sailors Jan Elfring and Slater were fourth and fifth respectively so Draycote inflicted a crucial away victory in their derby with Carsington.
The derby return match was held at Draycote on 7 January with an attendance of 22 boats including seven locals. The drought was in full swing, water levels were low and the sailors had to avoid the shallows and islands that were outside the race area. The wind built through the day and Snell and Aldridge recorded a gun each in the two races but when the tie was broken on aggregate time it was Snell who was the victor by a narrow margin. Third and fourth places were taken by Draycote sailors Slater and Graham Collett and with Draycote taking three places in the top seven it was game set and match to Draycote in the derby match.
The Queen Mary open on 18 February was held on a day of strong winds of 20mph with gusts of up to 30mph, but the reservoir was full. 17 boats took part but a further seven helms were observed cowering in the clubhouse. The number of sailors in the clubhouse was mostly a result of some difficulty experienced by Aldridge in launching his boat in the stong on-shore wind and nearly being swept into the concrete wall. Suddenly the queue to launch their boats behind Aldridge dispersed and the ranks of the spectators in the clubhouse increased. In the event the conditions once afloat proved quite sailable, if challenging. Aldridge made no mistakes with two firsts from Steve Sawford (two seconds) and Hawkes and Robert England fought for the third place on the podium.
The last event was at Grafham on 25 March and here the reservoir was 104% full!. The 27 entrants (eight locals) had to wait an hour and a half for the fog to clear before the first race could begin and this turned out to be a one lap drifter. By the time of the second race the sun was out and a steady breeze enabled a better race. Open Dinghy Club sailor Paul Craft won the event to show Snell and Aldridge they could not have it all their own way but Snell was second and George Carter third. This second place for Snell proved decisive in the tie-breaker with Aldridge as they each had two first and a second in the Winter Traveller series, so Snell was crowned Winter Series winner.
So the Winter Series turned out to be our best ever and most closely fought. Draycote won the grudge derby with Carsington and team Stewartby are going from strength to strength with biggest attendance, biggest travelling group and, watch out guys because they are climbing the results table too!
Final Results Summary:
Overall TT Series Top 5 Places: first Stuart Snell (Grafham Water Sailing Club) 4 Pts , 2nd Mark Aldridge (Grafham Water Sailing Club) 4 Pts, third Howard Hawkes (Thorpe Bay Yacht Club) 9 Pts, fourth Peter Slater (Draycote Water Sailing Club) 11 Pts, fifth Paul Craft (Open Dinghy Club) 15 Pts
Una and Two-Up Fleet Top 3 Places: first Stuart Snell (Grafham Water Sailing Club) 4 Pts, 2nd Mark Aldridge (Grafham Water Sailing Club) 4 Pts, third Howard Hawkes (Thorpe Bay Yacht Club) 9 Pts
Sport Fleet Top 3 Places: first Derek James (Draycote Water Sailing Club) 15 Pts, second Robert England (Carsington Sailing Club) 19 Pts, third Chris Clarke (Stewartby Water Sports Club) 19 Pts
Full Series Results here
Sprint 15 website