2015 Dart 18 Inland Championships held at Grafham Water
The Dart 18 Inland Championships were part of the Grafham Catamaran open which attracted some 90 boats, unfortunately only 13 Dart 18’s were able to attend for various reasons, however this didn’t dampen the spirit and banter for the weekend.
The forecast for Saturday was a NE force 5 – 7 which as you can imagine excited some more than others and Sunday a disappointing force 1 – 2. Racing started at midday with a patchy Northerly force 3-4 with the windward mark on sheltered side of the water making lay lines tricky for the first rounding, from the windward mark was a tight blustery reach before rounding the 2nd mark for the downwind leg to the 3rd mark hidden somewhere near the shore on the club side. Once round the 3rd mark, again was a tight reach to 4th and harden up before tacking through the start finish line for the next lap. The first lap was fairly tight and with not many options to hand, Mat & Jakob Exon made the most of the conditions and started stretching their lead from 2nd place boat Mike Gomme & Sara Stones.
During the briefing the race officer had announced that if the lead boats were a fair distance ahead they would be sent round for a 4th lap and the slower ones finished on their 3rd (note: must turn up to briefing on time to hear these rules rather than sailing through the finish line thinking you’ve finished). Mat & Jakob carried on to win the 1st race of the Championship.
Having just returned from the UKIDA auctioned training weekend with Brian Phipps from Windsport International we were keen to try out everything we had learnt, one of the areas we concentrated on was starting, and with only 13 boats on the line it was a great opportunity for us to practice and I have to say this weekend 5 out of 6 starts were spot on (bows forward Brian!). With no mistakes en-route we rounded the windward mark in 1st place with Mat & Jakob in 2nd, the rest of the fleet were all close to each other at this point but started to spread out on the downwind leg. Having also just completed the Windsport training Darren & TA were dominating sailing deep and fast down wind.
Having travelled all the way down from Royal Tay Yacht Club the 2015 Scottish Champions Kenny Watson & Drew Young were out to prove themselves a formidable force, which they pulled off extremely well with some seriously close racing at the front of the fleet. With the course laid out the way it was you had little option but to sail the same course and just try to avoid the holes, yet in the 3rd race Mat & Jakob having been buried on the start tried plan B which fortunately for the rest of us proved that there was only one way to go. With the wind now building and blustery gusts coming through without warning we managed to capitalise on another good start and rounded the windward mark in 1st with Kenny & Drew in 2nd, Keith Pollitt & Jon Dalton in 3rd. The gust’s kept coming and claimed a couple of casualties on the way but we won’t mention and names ‘Darren & TA’. The front runners remained the same throughout the race but there was a fair bit of jostling going with the rest of the fleet.
As there was no evening entertainment apart from a meal in with the entry fee, we had to create our own, some of you that have been in Joe Franks company before will know only too well how loosing at spoofing is not an option. Joe carefully created a spoonful of culinary disaster of chicken breast, mustard, berries, cream, white sauce and various vegetables. The tense game came down to a nail biting dual between Mat Exon & David Wright, this was one competition that Mat did not mind loosing, well done David for stomaching it.
Day 2 was as forecasted with a force 3 decreasing as the day went on which mean to boat park was a thrive of activity with many resetting their rigs and sails for light wind sailing.
Race 4 was a clean start for everyone and with a similar wind direction it was off the same way as the day before, the fleet were all approaching the 1st mark as a group and most of them on starboard, Mat & Jakob on port fancied their chances at crossing the fleet to tack for the mark but with a knock for them and a lift for us had to make do with a last minute tack which meant they were unable to make the mark, it was almost as though someone had pulled the plug and sucked them on to it, the rest of the fleet managed to get round whilst Mat went off to do his penalty turn. With some boats gybing off after the reach mark and some carrying on it was still hard to tell which way was right or wrong.
Race 5 saw quite a few position changes and it didn’t help us doing exactly what Mat had done in the previous race hitting the mark, with a slight wind shift on the 2nd lap some boats tacked off early and other carried on as previous tactics, this changed the race order with Joe & Harriet Franks rounding the windward mark in 1st and then holding of 2nd place Mat Exon to a well-deserved win. In 3rd place was Kenny & Drew and with a huge wind shift on the finish line Owen Cox & Darren & TA were able to sail straight through the finish in 4th & 5th.
The pressure was really on now with 1st & 2nd place separated by 3 points and 3rd & 4th separated by 1 point. Mat lead off the line and held his position throughout the race, we were in a strong 2nd which was enough to secure an overall victory, David Wright was holding onto to 3rd place throughout most of the race until Joe & Harriet managed to get past to secure 3rd which moved him up to 3rd place overall.
On the water everyone enjoyed a lot of close racing throughout the weekend and it was a great finish to the season.
Report by Mike Gomme.
Pos Sail No Helm Crew Club R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Pts
1st 7981 Mike Gomme Sara Stones RBBSC 2 1 1 1 ‑6 2 7
2nd 7685 Mat Exon Jakob Exon Bridlington/ RYYC 1 2 ‑5 2 2 1 8
3rd 7894 Joe Franks Harriet Franks RYYC ‑5 4 4 3 1 3 15
4th 7940 Kenny Watson Drew Young Royal Tay Yacht Club 3 3 2 5 3 ‑8 16
5th 7520 Keith Pollitt Jon Dalton Netley Sailing Club 4 7 3 6 ‑12 7 27
6th 4293 Darren Wood TA Wood Island Yacht Club 8 6 (DNC) 4 5 5 28
7th 5791 David Wright Grafham Water Sailing Club 6 5 (OCS) 8 10 4 33
8th 7347 Barry Peters Datchet Water SC 9 8 (OCS) 7 9 6 39
9th 4683 Gordon Baines Max Oscroft Grafham Water Sailing Club 7 ‑9 6 9 8 9 39
10th 5122 Owen Cox Weston SC ‑10 10 7 10 4 10 41
11th 4880 Simon Clark Grafham Water Sailing Club 11 12 10 12 7 (DNC) 52
12th 7165 Paul Soderberg Pam Soderberg ‑13 13 9 11 11 11 55
13th 5481 Paul Hemsworth Sian Morgan Mumbles YC 12 11 8 (DNC) DNC DNC 59