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Abersoch Mirror Week at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club

by John Edwards 23 Aug 2014 10:40 BST 11-15 August 2014

The Old Gaffer leant back on his stool and puffed out his chest. "You should Never Give Up, you see, you need to hang on right to the end and you never know what might happen". Both Man and Boy listened intently and stared deep into their half-empty glasses. "You should never stop looking around you, Dontlego, in case there is a Maverick, a Crafty Fox or a Wizard creeping up behind you, a Jammy Dodger, ready to deploy Sharp Practice and drive you Bananas."

He chuckled to himself as he recalled that, after no play on Monday, due to Bertha's windy tail end, Principal Race Officer Andy Teague called on the 47 entrants to send out crash test dummies (a.k.a. competitive parents) to strut their stuff amid 35 knot gusts. A short course had to be set below the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club because the committee boat's anchor would not hold, such was the strength of the wind. Some never made it to the start line, from where multi-class champion Mike Budd leant back in his toe straps, powered up the short beat to the windward mark just off the beach, hoisted the kite and disappeared into an unchallenged lead. The 13 finishers, out of 17 or so who launched through impressive breakers, were rewarded raucously with Yorkie bars at prize giving by Andy Teague.

The Old Gaffer's eyes narrowed as he considered the impact of the other, Young, Yorkies. Winder's beautiful Keighley-built craft may have been holding sway at the Mirror National Championships in Brixham, but would they here? With all but ten being gaff-rigged, wooden hulls, built from 1966 onwards (some by grandparents of the sailors) and one Trident Race, the Old Gaffer was confident that there would be just as serious competition for his prize as there would be for overall honours amongst the Young Yorkies.

Wednesday had dawned with a more moderate WNW breeze, but which still touched 25 knots in the heavier gusts. The course was the customary two generous triangles on an inshore course from committee boat starts. Race One was won by Dave and Archie Shiel from Mike and Katie Budd, but both the Young Yorkies and The Old Gaffers stuttered in confusion in Race Two as to the configuration of the race winner. Norbert breathed fire from a perfect pin end start as he led all round the course, demonstrating the Third Way: a fine wooden hull and a Bermudan rig. Three races were a challenge for some, but the classic Mirror Week format of allowing crew swaps between races preserved energy for the younger sailors. Six year old Alice, however, preferred to shelter in the Love Boat RIB for a cuddle from Rachel to warm up before returning to Race Three. Such was the support from all the volunteers ashore and afloat that 33 finished this race. With the Budds taking the win from the Shiels, these two led overnight: the Hamels showing their power to take a share of third as the leading gaff-rigged boat. Many yarns were spun late into the evening once the beach huts were commandeered for the barbecue, held on a classic Abersoch fine sunny summer's evening.

On Thursday, three races were again completed in a shifty 12-15 knots NW breeze. The Young Yorkies and Old Gaffers were shown by Andy Teague that you should start Any Which Way You Can, as the line bias altered with each race. John and Alice Edwards found an extra turn of speed and fortune to take three wins, showing again that a well-prepared, 21 years old, amateur-built wooden hull equipped with a Bermudan rig can compete equally with the Young Yorkies. With three points separating the leading three it would be all to play for on the final day, but that was not a concern for the 100 lucky few who were able to gain a ticket for the sell-out Mirror Drive, compered by the ever-humorous PRO and fuelled in the Cove Restaurant at SCYC by the talented chef David Smith and his team.

And so next morning the chips were down. The family battles were tense, particularly for the extended Atherton/Taylor and Hodges families, who had entered four boats each. Race Seven was led from start to finish by Dave and Archie Shiel from John and Alice Edwards, who survived a second lap charge from the consistent junior trophy winning Wonder Woman in Pinky2, Rebecca Greaves, with her crew Liv Withers.

The Old Gaffer knew the score: it would be winner takes all in the final race. As the wind backed significantly in the minute before the start, Sharp Practice dived for the pin end, then port taking the fleet. However, the less adverse tide inshore allowed the Shiels and Budds to sneak through, with this order being held very closely round to the last mark. But the wise words of the Old Gaffer were heeded. Edwards stayed low after the rounding and Alice called a tack onto starboard, ducking Budd and sailing into less adverse current and a favourable left shift, delighting in taking the gun and overall honours. The Budds also sneaked through to second, but the Shiels had done enough to retain second overall. There was funny business behind also. "Oh Globbits!" Captain Blue was heard to exclaim, when Bob sneaked a lee bow on him just before the finish to take 8th place in the race.

Rebecca and Liv finished an excellent 5th overall to take the juniors prize: Hamble River SC's Foxer champion Chris Hamel with Alex was the first Gaffer in a commendable 7th position. The Silver Fleet was won by talented youngsters James and Matt Waddington from Dee SC, who were up in the leading group in Race 4.

Andy Teague, however, reminded a packed SCYC bar that everyone was a winner, with prizes being awarded to all participants. A variety of popular Special Recognition Awards were made also. The £45 entry fee represented excellent value, but was only made possible by the expertise and hard work of all the volunteers on the water and ashore. With 47 entries from 18 clubs travelling from as far as Kent and Scotland, Abersoch Mirror Week remains a firm family favourite and, once again, the largest Mirror regatta in the UK.

There will be difficult choices in 2015, with the Mirror National Championships at SCYC coinciding with Abersoch Mirror Week. As well as the decision of which fleet to join, the Old Gaffers will now have to consider whether there will be investment in Young Yorkies, preservation of their traditional rig or going the third way of a wooden hull with a Bermudan rig. With the successful recipe of short back to back races held inshore, aimed at the entire range of experience from first time racing youngsters to competitive champion parents, and with the Nationals providing a different challenge further offshore, there will be no place better for Mirror sailors of all abilities in 2015 than at Abersoch from August 15th to 21st.

Prize Winners:

1st Gold Fleet Helm: John Edwards
1st Gold Fleet Crew: Alice Edwards
1st SCYC boat: Dave Shiel and Archie Shiel
1st Silver Fleet Helm: James Waddington
1st Silver Fleet Crew: Matt Waddington
Youngest Helm: Izzy Bray
First Girl Boat: Rebecca Greaves and Liv Withers
Biggest mishap: Christian Lee (we won't tell...)
Tish Fildes Tray (awarded to someone who has done something exceptional): Lizzie Allen
Seamanship Trophy: Charlie Middleton
1st Wooden Boat with Gaff Rig: Chris Hamel
First Boat with a Combined Crew Age of Under 30 Years: Rebecca Greaves and Liv Withers

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameType of BoatHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8Pts
169559Sharp PracticeWooden BermudanJohn EdwardsAlice EdwardsOgston SC3631112112
270816Man & BoyBermudanDave ShielArchie ShielSCYC1225521316
370616Stop LookingBermudanMike BuddKatie BuddSCYC2512244217
470617CrabstixBermudanDavid EddowesKatie/JamesSCYC745081236444
570633Pinky 2BermudanRebecca GreavesLiv WithersSCYC11987473644
670757MaverickBermudanJonathon HayleyThomas HayleyDee SC341166358746
770102TenaciousWooden GaffChris HammelAlex HamelHamble River SC4351081171148
839508NorbertWooden BermudanPeter CromptonIsobel/Eddie/CharlieWembley SC5110913616549
970154Wonder WomanBermudanSashsa WordernMatilda/FelixSCYC67412119151564
1070222Captain BlueWooden GaffTony TaylorTom/Cate/Abby TaylorSCYC91091910819974
1154453dontlegoWoodenAnna CowlishawLouis CowlishawSheffield Viking SC16131411712111280
1269507WizardWooden GaffJamie PopeKitty/William/Hattie PopeWhitestable SC8812141710241887
1370002HedgehogWooden GaffEmily BraySeb/Ben BraySCYC101711131415181393
1470648 BermudanJames WaddingtonMatt WaddingtonDee SC15192442117920105
1570819OlafBermudanMike BishopAmy CowlishawSheffield Viking SC2150503613510108
1638601BobWooden GaffDominic BaldwinGeorge EdwardsSCYC172318152418128111
1723109GlobbitsWooden GaffJonny/Joanna HancoxMegan HancoxSCYC141416229192221115
1867476Any Which Way You CanWooden GaffBen TeagueEd Downes & Anna KnowellSCYC1216152819162123122
1961316KelpieWooden GaffTom KirkCharlotte KirkCYCY1818201825231414125
2066433The Black PearlWooden GaffAdam DinRana/Jacob DinHollingworth Lake SC261572431202028140
215784BubbleWooden GaffJamie AllenToby Atherton/Lizzie AllenHayling Island SC2250502715141016154
2268323Crafty FoxWooden GaffLee MathewsBarnaby MathewsDee SC1326192036243027159
2358591BuckyWooden GaffNick HoltAlice HoltBlackpool & Fleetwood YC4812132526502517166
2417623Georgie GirlWooden GaffCharlie MiddletonAlfie GeorgeSCYC2720171616314040167
2529315Crazy CatWooden GaffLucy CuttsDaisy/Jemma CuttsSCYC1924273028212825172
2669WozatruWooden GaffRobin LeeChristian LeeSCYC2325502129371326174
2769323Jammy DodgerWooden GaffCatherine HallNicholas HallGrafham Water SC2021213227302932180
2862937HoisterWooden GaffSally GallagherNeil/Freya/Harry GallagherSCYC3627282918323531200
2964791Wild CatWooden GaffJago Strong‑WrightEabha/Seren Strong‑Wright/Aled RobinsonLlandegfedd SC2422233423363939201
3065983BananasWooden GaffTania TimminsKyle/Oscar TimminsSCYC2950501720482719210
3166996Sea DuckWooden GaffAnnabel RookerMegan RookerSCYC2848502634222330211
3268895Blue BearWooden GaffMike OldroydWilliam/Elizabeth/Isabelle OldroydSCYC3228294137293129215
3355935SwallowWooden GaffAlastair MittonBeth MittonChew Valley Lake SC3336303922253342218
3444525HELPWooden GaffJon DaytonElla DaytonRYA SC3033253835274138226
3569322Tilly MintWooden GaffCharlieChrisSCYC3731503330344424233
3650793showaddywaddyWooden GaffJonathon WaddingtonHarriet/Joshua WaddingtonDee SC4829224043403833245
376907350 Shades of GreyWooden GaffGeorge HallwoodAlex Hallwood/Penny DownesSCYC2534264333355050246
3868148Sieve MeWooden GaffMartha TomlinsonLexi Gill‑LewisSCYC4850502339262635247
3933726/56425MattyWoodem GaffArchie SpeirsBen 4130503641383434254
4064476DogmatixWooden GaffGeorge MacMullenOllie/Harry/Henry Wilson 3532313540414343257
4155695Yo‑YoWooden GaffNeil HampsonAbigail HampsonHampson SC5050503148501722268
4219380ReflectionsWooden GaffEllie KirkIzzy BraySCYC4035324542433641269
4370007The UnitWoodenFreddie CheshireOllie Handley 5050503732283245274
4456566G KWooden GaffBilly MeakinAbbie/Lily MeakinStanley SC3850504238333736274
4569462Slow WhiteWoodenBecky DolanGerri Foster/Bronwen StuttafordSCYC3937334845394537275
4644372Pink RainbowWooden GaffBruce HainesMegan Rooker/Bertie NelsonChipstead SC3138484444424244285
4753695 Wooden GaffJesseHuckleberry/MarmadukeSCYC4850505050505050348

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