Sprint 15 Southern Championships at Shanklin Sailing Club
With sponsorship from Wightlink Ferries, Shanklin Sailing Club hosted the Sprint 15 Southern Championships. A total of 27 competitors were entered for the event and in near perfect conditions on the Saturday, with a flat sea and a southerly force 3 wind, race officer Martin Harrison set the course way out in Sandown Bay with an approximate windward leeward distance of 2 miles. Laying the course markers did present some problems, due to the depth of water, but when the first race got under way Paul Grattage elected to sail the fist leg of the course inshore to escape the tide and rounded the windward mark first with Sean McKenna second and Simon Giles in third position. The first three positions remained unchanged although on the second downwind leg these 3 were overtaken by Robin Leather, sailing in “sport mode”, and he eventually won the race on handicap, with Grattage second and McKenna third.
The second race again saw the race officer struggle to set the course with the very strong ebb tide pulling at the marks. McKenna was first around the windward mark with Leather second and Giles third, but with the main and jib configuration of Leather's boat it gave him the advantage on the downwind leg of the course. Leather was first, McKenna second and Giles third.
The third saturday race again saw Leather first, with Robert England, also sailing in “sport mode” second, and McKenna third.
The Saturday evening was just a quiet get-together in the club house, with the competitors re-running the races and sorting out "who should have won" and "what should have happened" whilst munching on the delights of the ample barbecue served by the ever abusive Stuart Pierce and washed down with whatever took their fancy.
Weather conditions on Sunday had deteriorated and with the availability of bacon sandwiches, and mugs of tea and coffee from the kitchen, many competitors decided that staying ashore might be a better option. Although, as with all events like this, many of the participants had forgotten to bring their brains with them and set about getting ready to sail.
Sunday's race was sailed in survival conditions, with gusts of 42 knots recorded, although most of the time it was just a steady 29 knots. Only 12 idiots (sorry, competitors) started, with Charles Watson making the best start closely followed McKenna and Dr. Simon Giles (you'd think he'd know better, but he's only a GP not a brain surgeon). At the windward mark Watson capsized whilst tacking leaving McKenna ahead of Giles and Keith Newnham, but on the downwind leg McKenna executed the near perfect pitch-pole capsize, flying spectacularly through the air as though on a trapeze (but he still ended up in the sea). Newnham managed to gybe around the leeward mark ahead of Giles, and then went on to steal the win with Watson second, after righting his boat, and Giles third. Only 7 boats managed to finish, the rest were picked up by the highly efficient rescue squad who seemed to be hanging around like a flock of hungry vultures.
At the presentation of the results, Shanklin Sailing Vice Commodore, Simon Giles thanked the clubs Rear Commodore, Lynda Richardson, for her part in keeping all the competitors fed and watered, the race officer Martin Harrison, for his excellent courses, made under difficult conditions, and all of the safety boat personnel for their hard work over the weekend and especially on the Sunday when they were pushed almost to the limit.
The overall results of the Southern Championship was Robin Leather first, Sean McKenna second and Simon Giles third.
Just to add insult to injury, on the way back to the ferry a tree had blown down in the wind (wind, what wind?) and so a long detour was in order, but as the Isle of Wight is so massive it put another 3 minutes on the journey time.
The ever present Sprint 15 events secretary, Erling Holmberg, would like to thank all those who participated in the Southern Championships at Shanklin and hopes to see you all at the Sport Nationals at Instow on the 10th-12th June and Seasalter on the 16th-17th July.
Arthur K. Newnham