This annual sailing event sees the “winningest” sailor from each of the cat/dinghy fleets based on the Spring and Summer points series do battle for the coveted title of Helm of the Year.
In recent years, this has also included a representative from the cruiser fleet. The event is completed in a one design class which is not regularly sailed by any of the competitors – as such, the “class of choice” for several years has been the Pico.
The event was scheduled for Saturday 17th September but competitors arrived to a very blustery morning. The forecast was for the wind to decrease, so the Race Officer, Dave Clarke, very sensibly postponed to the afternoon. However, with boats and competitors rigged and ready for a 1pm start,, it became clear that the conditions had not subdued at all. Eventually, it was decided to postpone racing until the following morning, ahead of Barts Bash.
Sunday morning dawned with much lighter breezes and the fleet hit the water at 10am to give enough time to run the series before Barts Bash in the afternoon – plus one of the competitors had a county level football match he needed to compete in the afternoon. The Race Officer laid on five races – starting from the pontoon – with each competitor swapping boats in between races to ensure the playing field was as level as possible. The younger competitors Jack Collis (Cruisers) and Jason Clarke (Cadets) made an early impression scoring 1, 2 in the first race followed by consistently good positions in the remaining four races. The monohull sailors Bryan Spencer (Solo Fleet) and Rob Bard (Handicap monohull fleet) also seemed pretty comfortable in the Pico – whilst arguably the cat sailors (Steve Thomas, Medium Cats, Jenny Ball, Sprint 15s and Steve Glynn, Fast Cats) had a bit of a disadvantage sailing very small monohulls in light winds. But we were all particularly impressed when Steve Glynn (Fast Cats) not only capsized in Race 2 but also managed to go turtle! The racing was very closely fought with short races, light winds and a relatively strong tide – and the downwind leg against the tide from the penultimate mark to the finish line proving to be very tactical. After an extremely close series, the top two competitors – Jack Collis (Cruisers) and Jenny Ball (Sprint 15) had identical race results meaning that it literally came down to the results for the last race. A coming together on the start line between Jack Collis and Steve Glynn, allowed Jenny, Jason and Rob to get ahead of the fleet and, as a result, the final race and, the overall series went to the Sprint 15s by the skin of their teeth.
As always, a great event! Many thanks to members who lent their boats – (David Ball, Dave Russell, Dave Clarke, Graham Cross, Sam Flaherty), to all the Support Boat crew and to Dave Clarke and Rory Thomas as RO and Assistant RO for running the event so efficiently.
Sprint 15 HOTY representative