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National 12 Gul Series at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by George Finch 7 Jul 2015 08:34 BST 4-5 July 2015
National 12 Gul Series at Royal Harwich © Bob Tate

The 2015 National 12 Gul Series continued on 4th & 5th July at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. This year, the club had evolved the National 12, Lark and Firefly meeting into a wider event called the Smugglers Trophy, to appeal to more dinghy classes in the area.

As the dinghies got ready to launch, it was apparent that a large number of Admirals Cup boats had turned up to take part in the event, partially influenced by the current Commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, Chris Brown, who had suggested the idea of a 'more mature' trophy to be sailed for within the event, where to qualify the helm's age plus the number of years they have sailed National 12s had to equal 100 or more.

The first day's racing was held in gusty and shifty conditions, blowing about 15kts. Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne were quick to take the lead, with Antony Gifford and younger son Rory following behind. The gusty conditions saw Christian & Sophie Day slip down (and at one stage, Christian slip out of their boat) from 3rd place, allowing Nick & Tanya Copsey to take 3rd place. Nigel Waller maintained the pace, sailing in N326 - an Uffa King built in Suffolk in 1938.

There was some drama on the start of the second race with Christan & Sophie Day's rudder popping off the transom as the start gun went. A few boats were stuck head to wind whilst trying to start on starboard and hitting an unfortunate wind-shift. The gusts increased throughout this race, spreading the fleet but allowing Camm & Ballantyne to keep their dominant position.

The course changed for the third race from a windward-leeward course to a triangle-sausage, where one lap consisted of a triangle and a sausage, so there were 6 beats to deal with! The gusty conditions in between the second and third race caused a few of the 12s to retire to the RHYC lawn to watch the racing whilst soaking up the sun.

The RHYC put on a fantastic BBQ and musical entertainment on the lawn, organised by a club member's music pupils. Many of the sailors enjoyed watching the sun go down, and frequently visiting the bar, making the most of the glorious summer evening, slowly disappearing over the River Orwell.

On Sunday, despite a bright start, the sailors were greeted with light winds and lots of rain for an event-wide pursuit race, involving historic handicapping for the 12s. This saw Nigel Waller get a head start, followed by a number of admirals cup boats, then double-bottomed non-foilers and then the dead cat bounces starting 10 minutes after Nigel. Graham Camm then started with the Phantom Fleet, two minutes after the rest. With a slow race and the Dead Cat Bounces unable to make effective use of their T-foil rudders, Nigel Waller took the lead for the National 12s in N326, followed just behind by Antony Gifford and guest crew Ed Smallwood. Overall, Nigel was 3rd, following two Fireflies.

After a brief lunch, with the weather looking increasingly miserable, a few of the sailors stayed on shore but the majority braved the rain for a damp two races held in light airs. In the first race of the afternoon, Graham Camm & Zoe Ballantyne continued their winning streak, followed by Jon and Sam Brown in their Paradox.

During the final race of the day the rain began to ease and the weather began to change, as did the front of the fleet as Graham Camm &Zoe Ballantyne were OCS and had to turn back, handing the lead to Jon and Sam Brown who kept their ground and won the race, with Antony Gifford & son James following behind.

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