Five visiting teams (from Llangorse, Datchet, Northampton & Hayling Island) joined eight home teams to compete in the final domestic event of the year, being the Draycote Sprint Open sponsored by Mercure Hotels. Weather conditions were perfect, warm, dry, occasional sun and winds varying between 10 – 18 knots with enough shifts to make both the beats and runs challenging. Racing commenced on schedule with six races consisting of windward/leeward courses being completed.
The first race saw a clean start with the home team of Richard Hope & Mike Stenson using local knowledge to keep right up the first beat to lead round the windward mark from the fleet president Jeremy Davy (Hayling Island) sailing with Martin Huett (Draycote) followed Martin’s father, Geoff with Keith Snow in third place. Teams Hope/Stenson & Davy/Huett then pulled away from the fleet with Davy/Huett taking over the lead by the leeward mark. Their lead grew over the next two laps with third place changing hands nearly on every leg. Finally, at the end of lap three, another home team, Simon Patterson & and our webmaster, Simon Thompson came through to take third. Race two again saw teams Davy/Huett and Hope/Stenson slowly pull away from the fleet with Davy/Huett leading round the first mark. In third this time was Northampton’s Chris & Marion Bowen. Four laps later and the positions remained unaltered despite team Hope/Stenson hitting the leeward mark on lap three.
A twenty minute on the water break was then taken to allow the competitors to recover mentally as well as physically! Race three saw another clean start with team Davy/Huett again leading the way, a lead they would comfortably hold for all three laps. The next three places saw three Draycote boats battling it out. Eventually Steve Cooper & Anna Day broke free to comfortably finish in second, a vast improvement on their 9th and 5th places in the first two races, with team Patterson/Thompson narrowly beating team Hope/Stenson into third. With the wind staying fairly constant, the race officer was able to get race four underway promptly and it was no surprise to see team Davy/Huett again leading from start to finish however they were pushed right to the end by Charles Apthorp and Jonathan Clark. Behind the leading pair, a battle royal was taking place between three teams, Bowen/Bowen, Hope/Stenson and Cooper/Day, with positions changing on a regular basis. Hope/Stenson looked to have secured third until their spinnaker sheet got jammed in the pole on the final gybe allowing team Bowen/Bowen to take third from team Cooper/Day.
Race 5 brought the most competitive race of the day with positions regularly changing as the fleet remained closely packed. Team Apthorp/Clark continued their good form from race 4 to lead after the first lap closely from Davy/Huett. However, by the end of lap 2, team Bowen/Bowen had taken over the lead only to see team Apthorp/Clarke take it back on the final beat and then to hold onto it take the race win. Having been in seventh rounding the windward mark for the final time, team Cooper/Day went left down the final run, found their own piece of wind, and eventually caught team Bowen/Bowen & team Davy/Huett, and having the inside position on the final mark, they took second place which they held to the finish, with team Bowen/Bowen in third.
So going into what turn out to be the last race (not that any of the competitors knew it at the time), team Davy/Huett had a ten point lead but with all races counting, they still had to finish the last race. The home team of Hope/Stenson was three points in front of teams Apthorp/Clarke & Bowen/Bowen, who in turn were one point in front of Cooper/Day. So pressure on!
Another clean start (making six out of six) which saw the top five overall boats battling it out all the way up the first beat. Indeed, the top five teams were the first five boats at the end of lap one. Rounding in fifth was team Bowen/Bowen, but that as high as they got as eventually they ended up seventh to finish fifth overall. Rounding in fourth was team Apthorp/Clarke but was starting to fall back from the leading three teams and eventually they finish fourth thus giving them fourth overall. Rounding in third was team Davy/Huett who then managed to pass team Hope/Stenson up the next beat but could not manage to catch the leader so finished in second place to take the event overall. Team Cooper/Day calmly kept their lead and took the final race. However this was only good enough for third overall, as team Hope/Stenson finished comfortably in third place to take second overall. The first silver boat winning the Full Frontal Trophy went to Draycote’s fleet captain, Pete Slater, crewed by Tim Case and the first classic boat winning the Falcon Cup went to John Craddock and Paul Kendall from Llangorse. Congratulations to Jeremy Davy and Martin Huett for winning the Gifford Trophy.
Our thanks go to Mercure Hotels for sponsoring the event and to Alistair Jones and the Miracle for running the event and we look forward to hosting the event next year.