The 2017 Sprint 15 Sports National Championships, sponsored by Wightlink Ferries and Spinlock were held at the Yaverland Sailing and Boating Club, under the organisation of Shanklin Sailing Club on the Isle of Wight on the 19th to 21st May. With a total of 32 boats taking part, racing took place in the English Channel just south of the Isle of Wight.
Friday’s first race got away on time featuring an inverted P course, set parallel to the shore in a force 5, south-western direction wind. Sam Heaton was first around the windward mark, closely followed by Paul Grattage, Sean and Sophia McKenna and Ed Dalton. They were closely pursued by Andrew Jefferies and Fraser Manning. With positions constantly changing in the freshening breeze the finishing order was Grattage, Heaton, and the McKenna duo.
Friday’s second race saw Grattage, Heaton, and the McKennas leading the fleet at the end of the first lap with the very dynamic (as he likes to be known) Liam Thom snapping at their heels like a demented Jack Russell, once again conditions played havoc with the fleet in the ensuing laps keeping the rescue boats busy. Finishing order was first Heaton, second Grattage and third Manning.
Saturday saw an increase in wind speed; it was now up to “a strong breeze”, force 6 with 27 knots recorded at the Shanklin weather station. 32 boats started on the box configuration course but were very spread out by the time they reached the windward mark. With several capsizes the rescue facilities were keep on their toes but the classic capsize, and with no rescue boat around, was Grattage, well in the lead and with only one more buoy to round, he pitch poled, and although he managed to right the thing in quick time, he was overtaken by the McKennas. Finishing order this time being, the McKennas, Grattage and Heaton.
Race two on Saturday saw 25 boats start, and with one so eager that they started 55 seconds before any of the others, at the end of the first lap Manning was in the lead with the dynamic duo about 50 metres behind, and once again Heaton hovering like a vulture behind them. At the end of the second lap and with just one tack to make, Manning capsized allowing Heaton to take the win with the McKennas second and Grattage third.
Only 17 boats ventured out for the afternoon race, North Devon Yacht Club’s Keith Heason and David Grant were well placed along with John Manning from Beaver Sailing Club. Once again there were numerous capsizes and a few retirements. Grattage won with Heaton second with Frazer Manning third.
Sunday saw a complete change in wind conditions, a very balmy force 2 to 3, initially from the south-east. With a strong ebb tide flowing setting the course proved challenging as the wind direction was constantly shifting, eventually settling from the east. With the old Olympic course configuration set up, 31 boats started and mainly headed along the shore to escape the tide. It was only possible to complete one round of the course in the recommended time, Grattage crossed the line first, Manning second and Jefferies third.
The final race of the weekend started with some match racing tactics between Heaton and Grattage with Fraser Manning also getting caught up in the antics. Heaton managed to push Grattage and Manning over the line before the start but was himself then forced over, Manning redeemed himself perfectly and broke free from warring pair. At the finish it was the McKenna pair first, Manning second and Mark Pritchard from Shanklin third.
Overall results first Paul Grattage, second Sam Heaton third, Sophia and Sean McKenna, Junior Cup Hector Bunclark of North Devon Yacht Club, Ladies Trophy Yvonne Pike of Shanklin Sailing Club, the Sixty Plus Cup John Manning , Erling Holmberg from Shanklin Sailing Club won the Fat Gits, sorry Heavyweights Cup and Andrew Jefferies and Chris Murphy the Pro/Am Trophy.