Draycote Sprint Report

Flying Fifteen end-of-season “Sprint” – sponsored by Mercure Hotels

Draycote Water Sailing Club – Saturday 20th October 2012

Report by Jeremy Davy

A high quality fleet of Flying Fifteens, including 3 ex-World Champions and the current European Champion, gathered at Draycote Water Sailing Club on 20th October 2012 for the inaugural end-of-season FF “Sprint”, sponsored by Mercure Hotels.

The one-day event represented a change in racing format for the FF class with shorter 30-40 minute races and no pre-determined number of races – the PRO was tasked with running as many races as possible within the allotted time.  To maximise overtaking opportunities, the race track was a windward/leeward course with a leeward gate.

On arrival it became clear that PROs, Tim and Elizabeth Fillmore, had their work cut out as the fog struggled to lift, revealing a glassy, windless reservoir.  However, the forecast was for the wind to exceed the required 5 knots and, true to its word, a light breeze developed to allow racing to get underway without delay.

In the build-up to the event there was much talk about it being a shoot-out between two FF giants, with the multi-World Championship winning team of Steve Goacher and Phil Evans “slugging it out” with the in-form Greg Wells (2012 European Champion) reunited with multi-class championship winning crew, Mark Darling.  With ex-World Champions, Charles Apthorpe (2001) and Rupert Mander (1992), also competing, together with new boy, the talented Richard Lovering, campaigning the FF with the experienced, Matt Alvarado, it was clear that the spectators were in for a treat, particularly as FF media partner, Pictures 55 were streaming live pictures of the racing into the clubhouse to ensure that everyone could get “up close and personal” to the action as it unfolded!

The anticipated showdown between the Goacher/Evans and Wells/Darling combinations did not disappoint, with the two big guns trading blows throughout the day and sharing all 5 race wins between them.  Wells and Darling won three races to Goacher and Evans’ two bullets but, on this occasion it was Goacher and Evans’ legendary consistency that proved decisive.  Before the event, both pairings had talked about the increased importance of the start and first beat in the shorter sprint format with less time to recover from mistakes.  In the end it was Goacher and Evans’ uncanny ability to come through the fleet after a poor start or first beat which won them the event.  The impressive Wells and Darling showed signs of blistering pace but a black flag in race 4 meant they had to count a 12th place in race 2 and that was sufficient to hand the event to Goacher and Evans who added the Sprint title to their long list of FF victories.

At the prize giving Phil Evans (deputising for Steve Goacher in the public speaking department) paid tribute to the Fillmores and their race team for providing a great day’s racing in tricky conditions, to Mercure Hotels for sponsoring the event and donating some fantastic prizes, including some weekend breaks at their premier hotels, and to Richard Hope of the home club for organising the event and having the courage to experiment with the new format.

Results (Top 5):

  • 1st – Steve Goacher & Phil Evans (Royal Windermere YC)
  • 2nd – Greg Wells & Mark Darling (Hayling Island SC)
  • 3rd – Jeremy Davy & Tom Hall (Draycote Water SC)
  • 4th – Richard Lovering & Matt Alvarado (Hayling Island SC)
  • 5th – Hamish MacKay & Andrew Lawson (Royal Highland YC)