Marconi sailing Club was represented by three Sprint 15’s at EUROCAT, Carnac, France from 1st to 4th May, a long standing dream of Nick Dewhirst who sadly passed away last year but would have been proud to see 19 Sprint 15’s lined up on the beach.
Peter Richardson and Kevin Kirby took the overnight boat from Portsmouth to Caen leaving a 3 ¾ hour effortless drive to Carnac on the superb French roads, Jon Pearse took the more ambitious route via Dover/Calais leaving an 8 hour drive although he was still there for registration Wednesday evening!
Carnac, in The Morbihan region is a fabulous chic seaside resort with fine restaurants, wonderful shops and beautiful safe beaches, Carnac yacht Club is one big catamaran club, geared to youth training and a lot of support from The French sailing system looking at the number of SL16’s and Twixxy boats lined up.
The first days racing commenced Thursday afternoon and the fleets were split in to 4 classes; F18’s, all other kite boats, Dart 18’s and our class of Sprint 15’s, Hobie 14’s, and Twixxy 2 man youth boats so swelling our fleet to 27.The wind was Force 6 gusting 7 offshore so you really didn’t realise how windy it was until you got 500 yards from the shore but having seen several cats blown over on the beach before launching we had a rough idea what to expect. It seems it’s not the race officer’s decision whether to race or not, it appears if he can get on to the committee boat its sailable!
After a very uncomfortable sail out to the start line in heavy seas (it made wind over tide off M mark on a windy day a stroll) Kevin and Peter decided with 3 more days racing in front of them that a swift return to the beach was in order. To his credit Jon stuck at it and although he had a swim carried on to finish the first race, in the event it was the only race of the day, all the other class starts were abandoned due to the many capsizes putting the substantial fleet of rescue boats under considerable strain.
Day 2 dawned bright with a F3 / 4, but having lost a day the fleets paid for it with 4 races back to back in short about 7 hours on the water so by the time we got back to the beach the complimentary drink and croissant was very welcome.
Day 3 was a long distance race, some 40+ miles for the fast cats which included a 20’ Phantom, a carbon curved boarded foiling catamaran (a smaller Americas Cup look alike but with a crew of two) which was out of site of the chasing pack of Tornados, F18’s and Vipers within 2 legs. For the slower fleets there was a shorter 22 mile course all in all similar to our Piers race. Our three helms decided to have a day ashore taking in the sites and giving Liz and Fenella a well deserved day off from carrying and fetching our trolleys.
Day 4 was the final day with no starts after 1pm allowing everybody to get finished and packed up. The wind had dropped to a 2 /3 but we were left with a difficult chop which made for some frustrating sailing at times but it brought to an end some fine sailing in a lovely location.
The prize giving was conducted in a typical French enthusiastic manor with our class being won overall by Brian Phipps, who not only supports us so well as the UK distributor attending all major events, showed us that he has lost none of his sailing skills to become the 1st European Sprint 15 Champion, runner up was Stuart Snell the current National Champion, Kevin was 6th, peter 7th and Jon a well deserved 17th in a very competitive fleet.
The Sprint 15 fleet was singled out for a special mention by Carnac Yacht Club being a new fleet to EUROCAT, purist sailing at its best with just a main sail and taking the top 10 places in our Class, easily recognisable around the park in our light blue tee shirts organised by Jon for the fleet and supplied by our very own Dave Clarke.
The Sprint 15 association would like to double the number of entrants for EUROCAT 2015. We have within the class Cheryl Craft who runs her own travel company and arranges everything, all the little hitches have now been ironed out and there is a lovely EUROCAMP site a few minutes from the beach so if you are interested keep an eye on the association website or speak to me.