Social Distance Sailing – Sprint 15 Marconi Style!

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The Sprint 15 (previously known as Spark and Dart 15) is a small cat dinghy and has been a thriving class since its launch in 1976.    A straightforward boat to rig, launch and sail, great fun to sail and also versatile with the ability to sail one up, with a crew or on your own with two sails and a trapeze – its design has stood the test of time.

There has been a strong fleet at Marconi for decades and Marconi has hosted Sprint 15 Traveller Events for thirty years – the figure of eight race around Osea and Northey continues to be a firm favourite that our visitors love.

In recent years, the Marconi fleet have galvanised into a formidable force at Sprint 15 events with a hard core turning out to most of the events throughout the year and bolstered by a larger Marconi fleet at National Championships and also the Grafham Cat Open in October.  As current holders of the Team Trophy from all the other Sprint 15 clubs – our purple shirts are now a highly recognised trade-mark!  We are also proud that the current National Champion is our very own Marconi sailor, David Ball.  Closer to home, we have a regular turn out at club racing, a shared love of sailing and plenty of chat and support in the boat park, over tea and cake or in the bar.

The generous help and support shared between our fleet members – as well as some healthy competition – has seen our fleet continue to grow, even during these difficult times.   Since the end of last season, we have welcomed three new members to the fleet plus one returner and at least one more newcomer is on the cards.

During the Covid situation, we have been able to tap into that mutual support and love of sailing to help each other get out on the water, once it was permissible to visit the club for exercise.    Whilst club organised activity is currently on hold – we have still been very actively sailing over recent weeks come rain or shine!    We generally sail in company for safety reasons and use a WhatsApp group to arrange times when two or more people are interested in going for a sail.  We also use the group to review the weather forecast and to encourage mutual conservatism not to go out if the conditions are less suitable.

So far we have done several trips rounds Osea, figure of eights round Northey and Osea Islands, sailed out to the Nass and back as well as local sailing in the vicinity of the club.    We have been joined on some of our sailing trips by other cats and dinghies from the club.   We met up on the water with two Sprint 15 colleagues from Stone and did a figure-of-eight with them around Osea Island and Ross Revenge, home of Radio Caroline.

Socially Distanced Sailing

We have also set up an SDS (Social Distance Sailing) Challenge – members are invited to sail a set course, time themselves and record their lap-times and prevailing conditions on a Googlesheet.   This challenge is open to all members and classes – click here to find out more and to get involved!

Socially Distanced Sailing at Marconi Sailing Club

If you are thinking about going on the water

– here are some of the things we have been doing that you might find helpful:

Planning our trips – checking forecasts, tides and using WhatsApp to arrange times when two or more sailors want to head out.   Aside from safety on the water, having two or more people makes launching and recovery much easier – which can be still be done jointly whilst safely social distancing.  We are generally sailing at the top of the tide to make it easier and safer to launch and recover on the hard.

Telling someone ashore when we are going afloat, where we will be sailing and when we expect to get back.  (And remembering to tell them when we get safely back ashore!).

Carrying a VHF radio and/or phone – having at least one of those on our person so we can still call for help if we go overboard / get separated from our boat.  We also recommend taking a paddle, tow rope plus a few spares & a multi-tool for minor “on the water” fixes.

Agreeing our sailing plan before going out and aiming to keep together on the water to keep an eye out for each other.  
Taking lots of pictures and Go Pro footage!  And sharing on social media, including our Marconi Sprint 15 facebook group page.  In challenging times, its good to commemorate positive experiences such as a decent sail in good company on our wonderful river.

Thanks to Jenny Ball for the write up not to mention her seemingly endless energy in galvanising the Sprint 15 fleet at MSC.

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Pat is Marconi Sailing Clubs, Rear Commodore (Sailing) he might occasionally be seen driving a power boat :-) Or falling off the front end of an RS800.........

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