by Bob Carter
On Sunday 25 March, the final event of the Sprint 15 fleet winter series was held at Grafham. An impressive 19 visitors joined eight sailors from the home club but we had to wait some time for the fog to clear before the first race could be started. Eventually the fog cleared and there was a light northerly breeze which enabled the Race Officer, David Williams, to start the first race at about 12.30.
In the first race George Carter was first off the line crossing the fleet on port but by the windward mark Chris Black (who has just returned after a long convalescence break) was first to round from Peter Slater, Simon Miles and Mark Aldridge.
Over the next reach and the run the lead changed many times in the fluky wind. Simon Hare, Stuart Pegum and Slater all took a turn in front. Along the run the wind totally died and the fleet parked up for about 20 minutes. Stuart Snell took a course to the extreme port side of the run looking for a puff of wind and came back from mid fleet to into contention by mark 3, but it was Slater who had established a small lead over the pack.
The slight breeze began to return along the second reach and Carter and Snell followed Slater round mark 4. Snell tapped the back of Carter at the mark and had to take a penalty turn. The course was shortened to one lap and Slater made no mistakes sailing tactically covering the pack and took the gun.
Paul Craft, Snell, Howard Hawkes and Robert England took the port side and the next places leaving Carter to wonder why he had taken the starboard side to the finish.
The second race was started straight after the first and fortunately the force 2-ish breeze was established all over the course. At the windward mark John Keyte was first to round from Frank Sandals, Carter, Snell and Black. Keyte led the race for the next lap while the pack behind jostled for position. The second beat was slow but Snell took the lead for the rounding followed by Carter but George Stephen and Aldridge made big gains by sailing to the right extremity of the beat. New Stewartby member, Simon Miles was not far behind.
Stephen progressively overhauled Carter and Snell and made no mistakes in the light breeze to take the gun at the end of the second lap. He was followed by Carter, Snell and Craft who once again caught up for the finish.
Thus after two good late charge finishes Paul Craft (2,4) took the event on tie-break from Stuart Snell (3,3). George Carter, Howard Hawkes and Mark Aldridge respectively took third,fourth and fifth places. The two races were run back-to-back due to the late start and in retrospect this turned out to be a good move due to the difficulty with launch and recovery caused by the Anglian Water earth works along the shore.
That concludes the Winter Traveller series but the Summer Traveller Series gets under way at Seasalter on 21/22 April.
Overall Results: First - Craft (Open Dinghy Club) 6 pts, Second - S Snell (Grafham) 6 pts, Third - G. Carter (Mooredale) 8pts, Fourth - H Hawkes (Thorpe Bay) 10 pts, Fifth - M Aldridge (Grafham) 12 pts, Sixth - P Slater (Draycote) 13 pts, Seventh - C Black (Grafham) 15 pts, Eighth - G Stephen (Queen Mary) 17 pts, Ninth - S Miles (Stewartby) 18pts, 10th R England (Carsinton(honary))20 pts.