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National 12 Gul Series Round 4 at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by George Finch 13 Jun 2017 08:05 BST 10-11 June 2017

The 4th round of the National 12 Gul Series was hosted by Royal Harwich Yacht Club this weekend. Some were put off by the breezy forecast, but those who ventured to the club were blessed with some gorgeous sunny weather over both days of the weekend.

Before Race 1 began, Stuart Walsh (crewed by 10 year old Theo Covi-Walsh) decided after an exciting reach to the start area that the conditions weren't suitable, so headed home. With a strong breeze supplemented by wild gusts with huge shifts, as the wind was coming from the southern bank of the Orwell, their decision was sensible – anyone who has seen Stuart's immaculate 4-Plank wooden DCB would understand!

Race 1 got underway with a clean start from the whole fleet, with Olly Stevens (crewed by Jude McKelvey) turning up a bit late after deciding to turn their newly acquired crusader into a submarine and nearly sink it before the start. Without a bailer, they headed to the shore, drained the water out and returned about 30 seconds after the start. For the front of the fleet, it soon became clear where the losses and gains could be made. New visitors to RHYC, George Smith (crewed by Alice Crick) decided to quickly tack off right on a shift, but then the tide took them right. Those who reached the windward mark first soon realise the need to de-power once crossing the channel, as the fleet began to sail into the shelter of the trees on the southern bank.

However, the racing remained tight with a considerable number of place changes as gusts came and went, with the whole fleet nearly always being on the same leg. Something went wrong with Graham Camm's boat (I'm still not quite sure what – they were sailing backwards at one point!) which put them well behind the front of the fleet. Kevin Iles (crewed by Andrea Downham) carried on in the lead to finish first, with Tom Stewart (crewed by Robbie Stewart) in 2nd and David Conlon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) in 3rd place.

At this point, Olly Stevens (crewed by Jude McKelvey) decided to head in, shortly followed by Angus Beyts (crewed by Gerald Copsey). Angus commented that whilst Gerald had remained calm during the race, which saw Angus fall into the boat a few times, his response when Angus said about heading to shore was "Yes I think that's a very good idea..."

Race 2 saw Kevin Iles (crewed by Andrea Downham) lead at the top mark again, until downwind on the sausage leg of the triangle-sausage course where they went for a swim! Further down the fleet, George Finch (crewed by Lucy Homer) decided to walk round at the gybe mark as a large gust hit, which paid off as Tom Lee (crewed by Jenefer Bugge) in hot pursuit behind them, went for the gybe and were successful, but then hit the mark! The Camms were back on form after overtaking Kevin and Andrea and went on to win the race, followed by David Conlon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) and Tom Stewart (crewed by Robbie Stewart) in 3rd, with Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) in 4th place.

The fun really continued into Race 3! With a busy start line, George Finch (crewed by Lucy Homer) decided to nudge the pin end as the gun went, do turns and then catch the fleet, only to then sail into the windward mark! After that, they continued to sail in the fleet, only to realise they were OCS when the results were posted ashore. On the 2nd lap, Tom Stewart (crewed by Robbie Stewart) went for a swim at the windward mark, creating a sizeable obstruction for everyone! Kevin Iles (crewed by Andrea Downham) - having had their swim in race 2, kept entertaining the rest of the fleet by unfortunately snapping their mast whilst reaching!

As the rest of the fleet sailed round onto the final downwind leg, Lucy Homer was praised for informing a number of the boats in front of her and George that a strong gust was about to hit – due to a very loud scream! (Their shroud was off to try and keep ahead of Ian and Alex Gore) but resulted in them nearly spinning out of control as the gust hit. Somehow George and Lucy stayed dry and the boats ahead prepared for the gust in a timely fashion! The race finished with Graham Camm in first, David Conlon in 2nd and Tom Stewart in 3rd. Well done to Chris Mayhew who came 4th, beating several foiling boats in the breezy conditions.

As the sailors came ashore to a beautiful afternoon on the RHYC's lawn, the beer started flowing before all the sailors came together for a relaxed pub quiz.

Sunday morning started with the Smugglers Trophy Pursuit Race, where the National 12s were given age related handicap, apart from Tom Stewart at Graham Camm who had an even bigger handicap to try and give the others a chance! A few of the sailors decided to conserve their energy for the racing later in the day, so a small crowd gathered to watch the race on the club lawn where nearly the whole course could be viewed. With the wind from the south again, it was interesting to see some boats stuck in no breeze, whilst others at the front could shoot ahead. Towards the end, with Graham Camm (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) well ahead, some very tight racing ensued between Ian Gore (crewed by Alex Gore), Tom Stewart (crewed by Robbie Stewart) and Bob Portway in a Phantom. As the final minute gun went, from the lawn it was anyone's guess who was in 2nd place. The results confirmed, Bob was 2nd, with Tom in 3rd and Ian in 4th.

After coming ashore for some light lunch, Race 4 got underway in similar conditions to the previous day, although the gusts were much stronger, threatening to knock some boats flat! The race got underway with David Conlon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) having a clear lead off the line. Some boats opted to go right, although with the tide flowing up the river this wasn't always the best option. During the racing, Tom Stewart nudged a moored yacht so was forced to retire, the occasional gybe ended in a swim and Chris Mayhew suffered some minor gear failure. It really was proving to be some testing conditions, apart from for Graham Camm (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) who kept everything together to finish first, followed by David Colon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart). Ian Gore (Crewed by Alex Gore) finished 3rd.

The final race of the weekend began with the breeze and shifts stronger and harder to read than before. David Conlon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) and John Meadowcroft (crewed by Isobel Stewart) got away first from the line and headed left, which was proving to be the favourable way to go. RHYC member Dan Patten, helming a 12 for the first time, crewed by Susie Martin had really got their act together by the final racing and were sailing extremely well given the conditions! David Conlon (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) had a slight incident involving a mast and the downwind mark, unfortunately a wooden post rather than an inflatable mark. This led to a capsize and retirement, but luckily no damage was done to the borrowed boat or crew! Nevertheless, despite a shorter race earlier, the RO kept the boats sailing round, making us all endure 6 gusty, shifty and windy beats! Graham Camm (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) finished 1st, with John Meadowcroft (crewed by Isobel Stewart) in 2nd, followed by her dad and brother in 3rd place.

After 5 series races, Graham Camm (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) were 1st overall, with David Conlon, a guest to the 12 fleet (having borrowed a boat at last years nationals and clearly having caught the 12 bug) in 2nd and Tom Stewart in 3rd. 1st non-foiler was Chris Mayhew (Crewed by Nicole Mayhew) and the 1st admirals cup was Olly Stevens (Crewed by Jude McKelvey).

We all had a fantastic weekend both on and off the water. The National 12 class is having a very active June, with an open meeting each weekend – next weekend is Milton Keynes SC.

The next Gul Series is at Stokes Bay SC on the 1st July and then 12 Fest is being held at Rutland SC on 15th & 16th July – more details on

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st3530Graham CammmZoe Ballantyne‑811114
2nd3529David ConlonCharlotte Sewart3222(DNF)9
3rd3544Tom StewartRobert Stewart233(DNF)311
4th3525Ian GoreAlex Gore4(DNC)73519
5th3437Chris MayhewNiccole Mayhew664‑9420
6th3540Jon IbbotsonRachel Smith7455‑1021
7th3545Tom LeeJenefer Bugge58‑96625
8th3520George SmithAlice Crick‑10968831
9th3465Dan PattenSusie Martin‑111087732
10th3513George FinchLucy Homer97(OCS)10935
11th3527Kevin IlesAndrea Downham15(DNF)DNCDNC38
12th3543John MeadowcroftIsobel Stewart(DNC)DNCDNC4238
13th3179Olly StevensJude McKelvey12(DNC)DNCDNCDNC60
14th3231Angus BeytsGerald Copsey13(DNC)DNCDNCDNC61
15th3546Stuart WalshTheo Covi‑Walsh(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC64

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