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53rd Tideway National Championships at Barton Turf Adventure Centre

by Danny Lindsey 12 Jul 2016 08:01 BST July 2016

The 2016 and 53rd annual sailing of the Tideway Challenge was held on Barton Broad in Norfolk this year and for the first time in its history was won by a GRP version of this classic dinghy.

Barton Broad is the second largest of the Norfolk Broads after Hickling Broad, and is reputed to be where Admiral Lord Nelson learnt to sail. The racing was ably organised and marshalled by Simon Fishwick from the Barton Turf Adventure Centre (BTAC), who hosted the Tideway Owners Association for the weekend.

The TOA's annual race meeting is for the two handed Challenge Trophy; the Rose Bowl for single handed boats; the Watershed Decanter for the highest placed GRP boat and the John White Shield for under 18 helms.

Some 14 boats, both old and new, wooden and GRP, gathered at BTAC for the meeting with 11 entering the Challenge, and making the start line. Briefing was at 10am in the BTAC classroom from Simon who appreciated that for most this was the one time a year that they raced. The course was essentially a sausage covering the full length of the broad – the northern mark being a blue can and the southern mark being Paradise Island. There would be three races each of two laps, with one discard. The wind was from the North and fairly steady at 10 to 12 miles per hour, and although overcast early on, the sun was expected to break through. So we would be tacking up from the start line to the northern mark, on a run down to Paradise Island and then back up to the starting gate / finish line.

Following the briefing, the 11 boats slowly made their way out to the Start/Finish line at the Norfolk Punt Club pontoon and after much to-ing and fro-ing and jostling for position the first race got off to a good clean start, and the fleet headed up to the first mark. It soon became apparent that the main contest was between Jolyon and Jennie Pope in 'Jolybods' (TW54), seeking to retain their 2015 title, and Hugh and Alison Ambery in 'Ruby' (TW554) as these two boats pulled away opening up a gap between them and John Coe and Arthur Davey in 'Wild Goose' (TW464), who in turn had moved ahead of the rest of the fleet which was closely bunched. This was going to be a fascinating battle between a 1962 Lew Walker built wooden boat and a 2015 Tideway Dinghies built GRP boat – and they were remarkably evenly matched.

The first race went to 'Jolybods', but it was pretty close, and might have been different had 'Ruby' not suffered a brief delay when the mainsheet parted company with the boom while rounding the island, and Hugh not had a lashing to hand to fix the problem.

After a short break on the pontoon, the second race got off to a more ragged start, mainly due to several crews lingering over their coffee and not hearing the five-minute signal. However, the pattern of the first race was soon re-established. On most boats there was discussion as to whether it was necessary to go through the start gate at the end of the first lap, or just to cross an extended line. Aboard 'Jolybods' there was a fateful decision, and Jolyon missed the gate, leading to disqualification. Sixteen-year-old Ryan Tate sailing with his father Rob in 'Merinea' (TW252) pushed 'Wild Goose' closely and came in a good third.

There followed a break for lunch on the pontoon, packed lunches being supplemented by ice creams from a passing ice cream boat, by now you are getting the picture that these are not die-hard racers! Only six boats set off for the third race and the pattern looked like being the same again, with 'Jolybods' and 'Ruby' out in front, but this time 'Wild Goose' could not throw off the rest, and after losing time on penalty turns, having hit the blue can mark on each lap, fell down the rankings while Richard Warham and Dean Sephton in 'Samphire' (TW70) pushed through to take third place. 'Ruby' held off Jolybods to come home first.

So Hugh and Alison Ambery in 'Ruby' TW554 won the Challenge Trophy. This is the first time a GRP boat has won the trophy since it was first competed for in 1963 – so quite a landmark for the TOA. The Rose Bowl and the Watershed Decanter went to Martin Mitchell in 'Jemma' TW432, and the John White Shield, last presented in 2004, went to Ryan Tate in 'Merinea' TW252.

The TOA would like to thank BTAC, and particularly Simon and Sheila Fishwick for all their help in hosting the weekend, for organising the races and for providing a superb Fleet Supper on the Saturday evening. Thanks also to the Norfolk Punt Club for allowing the use of their pontoon.

The conditions had been ideal – a lovely sunny day and a steady stiff breeze. It was generally agreed that this was a successful and enjoyable Challenge. Admiral Lord Nelson would have approved.

Challenge Trophy Results:

PosSail noBoatHelm & CrewR1R2R3Pts
1TW554RubyHugh & Alison Ambery2112
2TW54JolybodsJolyon & Jennie Pope1Dsq23
3TW464Wild GooseJohn Coe & Arthur Davey3245
4TW70SamphireRichard Warham & Dean Sephton7437
5TW252MerineaRyan & Rob Tate9358
6TW383Sandy BPeter Barnett & Malcolm McDougal4569
7TW114RambleJohn & Penny Donnelly66dns12
8TW375JennyRichard Taylor & Marcus Mazure88dns16

Rose Bowl Results:

PosSail noBoatHelm & CrewR1R2Pts
1TW432JemmaMartin Mitchell5712
2TW373Emily JaneJohn Restorick10919
3TW552Amori di LynnBryan DensonRtdDsq

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