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Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club

by Sue Giles 9 Jul 2018 15:39 BST 7-8 July 2018
Saturday's start during the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy 2018 at Ullswater © Tim Olin / www.olinphoto.co.uk

Consistency on a weekend of tricky light conditions paid off for RS400 sailors Dave Exley and Nigel Hall who won the Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club, on July 7 & 8.

Both days were dominated by unstable winds but the duo from Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club managed to stay ahead in the results, winning overall with a 4th on Saturday and an 8th on Sunday. Their names are already on the sought-after Birkett Silver Salver, which was first sailed for in 1963, Dave won it helming an RS400 in 2003, 2008 and 2013, with Nigel crewing him in 2008 and 2013. As well as the trophy, they also won bed and breakfast for two at the Sharrow Bay Hotel, UYC's next door neighbour.

The top places over the two races were spread over a range of classes and the key to success was being up there on both days of fickle, unpredictable winds. In second place overall were Jono Shelley and Graham Priestley of UYC in a VX One with a 12th and a 2nd, third were Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse of West Riding SC in an RS400 (5 & 11).

The lack of wind on Saturday led to a postponement but when a few trickles arrived, there was not enough wind to get the fleet to the island, so race officer Rick Boyce set a course to the northern end of the lake, round two buoys, then south to a buoy half way down the lake past the memorial to Lord Birkettt on Kailpot Crag, and back. It was a very slow start with a Fireball first to the first mark, followed by a mix of classes.

By the time the fleet headed south, past the club, the downwind leg turned into a very slow beat. Despite the 3pm kick-off for the Sweden/ England game getting closer, the majority of the fleet stuck it out and made their way down the lake and back to finish on a run.

Passengers on the special Birkett Cruise on the Ullswater 'Steamer' had a close-up view of the racers as it stood off near the start line and followed the fleet down the lake.

It was hard to judge who had won on handicap, but when the results were published, the top three places went to RS200s, and the next five to RS400s. The winners were Richard and Lauren Marsh of Hollingworth Lake SC and second on handicap, another father and daughter team, Alistair and Evelyn Coates of Leigh & Lowton SC.

Sunday brought the same challenging conditions, but the wind was coming from the South. Race officer Rick Boyce set a course similar to Saturdays, but in reverse. As the boats launched, the wind swung round to the north and the course was reversed again.

There was lots of bunching and rafting as the fleet started again on a slow leg to the Pooley Bridge end of the lake. By this time the racers were used to what happened next, the downwind leg again turned into a beat. The wind increased slightly as the fleet again made its way down the lake and back to the club.

First place on handicap in race 2 went to a Norfolk Punt sailed by Colin and Oly Murray of UYC, second were Shelley/Priestley in a VXOne, giving them second place overall and for Exley/Hall, eighth was good enough for them to win overall.

The iconic event was first raced in 1963 in honour of Lord Norman Birkett who died two days after making a successful speech in the House of Lords which prevented Ullswater from becoming a reservoir. Every year since then, the club, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, has held the prestigious two-day long distance race in memory of the 'Saviour of Ullswater.'

This year the club was delighted to welcome Lord Norman Birkett's granddaughter, Victoria Cliff Hodges, who watched from the Steamer on Saturday and the club on Sunday and presented the prizes to the winners.

And on Saturday a camera crew from BBC Countryfile spent the day at the club filming for an Ullswater special which will be broadcast on Sunday, July 22, the programme's 30th Anniversary edition.

The Birkett has become a Festival of Sailing, with camping on site, live entertainment this year from the Kentucky Cow Tippers and the Fire Kings and food all weekend. The Lord Birkett Tea Room masterminded by UYC's own 'Mary Berry', Lilian Adams, offered delicious home-made cakes and has become a big on-shore attraction.

Ullswater Yacht Club would like to thank everyone who helped toward the fleet of safety boats necessary for the event, some with crews, including Seaham Divers & friends. We would also like to thank Ovington Boats for hull stickers and Sharrow Bay Hotel and Ullswater Steamers for their support. And huge thanks to Birkett co-ordinator and race officer Rick Boyce, and his race box team, Edmund Clarke and his safety team, Andrew Bailey and his site team, the Robinson family and their marquee team, the hospitality team and all the other volunteer members of UYC, more than 100 altogether, without them the event would not be possible.

Overall Results: (top ten)

1. Dave Exley and Nigel Hall, RS400, Leigh & Lowton SC, 12pts
2. Jono Shelley and Graham Priestley VX One, UYC, 14pts
3. Hamish Gledhill and Simon Dowse, RS400, West Riding SC, 16pts
4. Grahame Newton and Mark Stevens, Fireball, Staunton Harold SC, 19pts
5. Nigel and Diana Pepperdine, RS200, Staunton Harold SC, 22pts
6. Barrie Thornton and Nigel Hunt, RS400, Scaling Dam SC, 22pts
7. Stewart and Sarah Robertson, RS400, Royal Forth YC, 24pts
8. Daren Fasey and Colin Davis, Fireball, Staunton Harold SC, 25pts
9. Chris Pickles and Mark Lunn, RS400, 28pts
10. Patrick Hamilton, Laser, Burwain SC, 36pts

Class prizes:

Musto Skiff: Ian Turnbull, UYC
RS 400: Dave Exley and Nigel Hall, Leigh & Lowton SC
Fireball: Grahame Newton and Mark Stevens, Staunton Harold SC
Flying Fifteen: Gary Richardson and Stewart Lee, Blackpool & Fleetwood SC
GP 14: Steve Ward and Mike Acaster, Bartley SC
Laser: Patrick Hamilton, Burwain SC
RS 200: Nigel and Diana Pepperdine, Staunton Harold SC
VX One: Jono Shelley and Graham Priestley, UYC
Albacore: Judy and Paul Armstrong
Cruiser: Ben Sandover, Alan Bennett, James Lawton, Platu 25, RCC
Blaze: Pip Warner, Hornsea SC
2000: Phil and Lynda Howarth, Coniston SC
Tempest: John Robinson and Lyndsay Whitehead, UYC
RS100: Robert Richardson, Royal Windermere SC
SB20: Lee and Danny Boatman
RS Aero: Steve Stewart, Yorkshire Dales SC

Ullswater 'Steamers' Trophy (56th boat past Birkett plaque on Saturday): Nick Holt and Derek Hill, RS400, Leigh & Lowton SC
Dalemain Trophy (Visiting club with most entries): Yorkshire Dales SC
Mike Barnard Trophy (Best UYC helm under 21): Tom Jennings, Laser
Barclays Bank Trophy (Best place UYC): Jono Shelley and Graham Priestley, VXOne

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