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National 12 Gul Series at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by George Finch 26 Jul 2018 22:46 BST 14-15 July 2018
National 12 Gul Series at Royal Harwich © Pavel Kricka

The National 12 Gul Series Weekend on 14/15th July started when I received a phone call at 0800 from Alex Gore, on behalf of Angus Beyts, informing me Angus had left his rudder in Scotland and he wondered if I knew anyone who had a spare vintage N12 rudder.

A fleet of 23 boats arrived, and after the briefing on the RHYC's lawn, 22 set sail. It was good news for Angus, sailing N2153 (crewed by Peter Russel) as they had found a RS Feva rudder that seemed to fit Angus' National 12 from 1963. It was however NTOA Class Chairman, Gerald Copsey, who had turned up with his Feeling Foolish N3538 who hadn't made it out the car park - which is where the boat would stay until home time on Sunday evening. In true Copsey fashion, Gerald had turned up to RHYC to ensure his boat was ready and put back together for North West Norfolk Week, starting 28th July.

Race 1

The sun was shining and there was a gentle sea breeze as the first 5-minute gun for the National 12s sounded. A simple windward/leeward course has been set by PRO (and RHYC Commodore) Gordon Sutton. A few boats were over the line. John Meadowcroft in N3543 (crewed by Dan Meadowcroft) assumed there was a general recall and headed back to the line, only to then be involved in a slow-motion pile-up on the pin end. As the majority of the fleet headed towards the left side of the course to escape the tide, George Finch in N3513 (crewed by Saskia Miatt) decided to take the right side with more tide. By doing this, David Copse in N3547 (crewed by Rowan Copse) followed, on the (incorrect) assumption that George, being local, knew what he was doing! At the sharp end of the fleet, Graham Camm in N3530 (crewed by Zoe Ballayntine) led with Ian Gore in N3525 (crewed by Alex Gore) following close behind. Jon Ibbotson in N3540 (crewed by Rachel Smith) improve on his fourth place finish in Merlin Week the day before and finished the race in third, with Jon Brown in N3483 (crewed by Maya Brown) finishing fourth, showing that in the lighter airs you don't need a T-Foil to be at the front of the fleet.

Race 2

Gordon set a trapezoid course for the second race, and once again Graham Camm and Zoe Ballayntine lead, although Tom Stewart in N3544 (crewed by Robbie Stewart) were following behind and Steve Sallis in N3531 (crewed by Jo Sallis) had got their ducks in a row after not having sailed the N12 for a little while and finished third. There is no doubt Steve had flashbacks of the 2017 Burton Cup when he turned around to see Ian and Alex Gore behind him, although this time Ian resisted the temptation to put his bow on Steve's T-foil rudder. Nigel and Chris White in N3445 finished in fifth and were the first non-foiler.

Race 3

Gordon set a triangle then sausage course for the final race of the day. The wind was holding and the tide was turning, so the fleet split heading upwind, but once again Graham Camm and Zoe Ballayntine dominated the race, with the top three boats finishing in the same order as Race 2. Jon and Maya Brown finished in fourth and Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith finished fifth. The race was without incident, apart Chris Mayhew in N3437 (crewed by Elouise Mayhew) who abandoned his post as helm during one of the downwind legs and went for a swim. Luckily, Elouise had helmed their N12 in club racing the week before, so she was able to gybe round, beat upwind and retrieve her helm.

After a superb day racing in wall to wall sunshine with a gentle sea breeze, where a non T-foil National 12 had finished in the top five in every race, the fleet headed to the shore to enjoy an afternoon and evening on the RHYC's lawn.

Race 4 – 'Smugglers' Pursuit Race'

As has been tradition for the last four years at the RHYC Smugglers Trophy, on Sunday morning as the tide is rising a pursuit race takes place and all the entrants can take part. The start times were set the night before and this year the National 12s withdrew the usual 'ABCSM' rules (Anyone but Camm, Stewart, Meads).

Just after the RS Feva at 10:00, the first of the National 12s to start should have been Angus Beyts (crewed by Peter Russel) in N2153, although given the fact Angus was still changing at 0945 and still had to rig and launch the boat, it isn't clear when he actually started. Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Isobel Stewart) in N3320 started next with the Lasers. The double-floored boats started a minute afterwards, with the DCBs and Hijack starting a minute after that. Graham Ireland who set the race times had failed to notice Jon Thornton's (crewed by Bryony Thornton) in N3443 T-foiling rudder, so they had an advantage against the other T-foiled N12s! Jon Brown (crewed by Sam Brown) in N3483 got a cracking start followed by George Finch (crewed by Lucy Homer) in N3513. Jon and Sam were short tacking up the far side of the river with George and Lucy following, although by trying to get out of the tide they kept going aground (It isn't like George and Lucy's home club in RHYC.....). This (repeated) navigational error allowed Chris Mayhew (crewed by Elouise Mayhew) in N3437 and Jon Thornton (crewed by Bryony Thornton) in N3443 to get well ahead, following Jon and Sam. Nigel White (crewed by Chris White) in N3445 had opted to tack up the club side of the river and cross through the 'gate' of the two channel marks – No.6 and Park Bight. Their tactics probably paid off equally. The DCBs and Hijack were hunting down the older N12s whilst trying to keep the large Phantom fleet behind them.

As the fleet got to the top mark, (channel mark Grog), the N12 fleet began to converge and then enter a procession downwind with the tide to channel mark No.7. People may have thought that George and Lucy in N3513 were sailing some funny angles to Grog. George was heading to channel mark No.5 as the upwind mark, instead of Grog. So much for local knowledge of the marks and river! Tactics on the downwind leg split the fleet, heading onto both sides of the river, but remaining in the channel. There was slightly more wind on the club's side, but this route also meant further to sail. The top pack of Jon and Sam Brown, Chris and Elouise Mayhew, Tom and Robbie Stewart and John and Bryony Thornton set about chasing the leading firefly and letting Graham Ireland (in his Laser) sail his own course back to Grog. With 20 minutes left of the race, Graham Camm (crewed by Felix Camm) and Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) were keeping George and Lucy in N3513 and Tom Lee and Jennifer Bugge (N3545) on their toes with a number of short tacks on the club shore. Graham and Jon both headed to the far shore after the No.6 / Park Bight gate and George and Tom stayed on the club side, but the former proved to be more efficient. On the final downwind, with the finish time of 11:00 getting ever closer, everyone was trying hard to keep their positions. The Phantom fleet were slowing but surely creeping up on the majority of the N12 fleet, but unfortunately ran out of time before they could catch the majority.

Overall, Jon and Sam Brown won the pursuit race, ahead of Tom and Robbie Stewart (N3544) in second, with Chris Mayhew and Elouise Mayhew (N3474) in third. There were eight N12s in the top ten, and fifteen overall in the race of 29 boats.

Race 5

The wind had continued to build during a short break for lunch after the pursuit race. There were a few crew swaps in the fleet, most noticeably Graham Camm had opted for his third crew – daughter Anya (or had the other two crews gone on strike?). It was a risky move as Graham was leading the open. John Thornton also swapped his daughter for his wife for the afternoon's two races.

The race got underway with no issues on the start line and the fleet were ready for a windward / leeward course. With the boats who took the left side of the beat coming out first, there were a few places to be made downwind. As the fleet headed to the first leeward mark, it was obvious there would be a slow-motion pile up, great for those who hadn't got the beat quite right as it slowed at least half the fleet down! Chris Mayhew (now crewed by Nicole Mayhew) and George Finch (now crewed by Lucy Homer) had a great second beat which saw them pop into the top 10 as the fleet rounded the windwark mark again. However, George thought it would be a good plan to follow Chris up the third beat, but in doing so pushed himself and Chris right to the left of the course, in less breeze and therefore lost a few places. Amusingly, George later asked Chris why he decided to go so far to the left. Chris' response was, 'because you wouldn't let me tack and go up the right side of the course!'. We live and learn!

Tom Stewart (crewed by Robbie Stewart) were able to break ahead and win, followed by John and Mandy Thornton in second in their Final Chapter and Steve and Jo Sallis finishing in their favourite position of the weekend, 3rd. Graham and Anya Camm were fourth, making the open extremely close between Graham and Tom. The Gores had dropped back to 7th for Race 5, but that can be blamed on the rhubarb gin consumed the night before!!

Race 6

The Phantoms who were starting before the N12s on the same course had got quite excited on their final start which led the RO to use the black flag for the final N12 start. Everyone hung back from the line and sailed away cleanly. Jon Meadowcroft (crewed by Dan Meadowcroft) found their form in the final race of the weekend and finished fourth, with Graham and Anya Camm following in fifth. John and Mandy Thornton took 3rd, with Steve and Jo Salis in second and Tom and Robbie Stewart taking the bullet. With this result, it meant Tom and Robbie had won the open meeting.

Thanks to: The event organiser Amanda Portway. Race Officers Gordon Sutton and Tim Archer. The recorders and time keepers on board the committee boats. Tim Hunt for producing the results. Safety Boat drivers and crews John Williams/Hugh Williams, David Pearce/Lyn Pearce, Phil Mayhew, Paul Wright/Peter Double. Saturday morning registration Sheila Paterson and Hazel Mayhew. Getting the support boats and equipment ready Bosun Hugh Williams. Bob Portway, Matthew House and Derek Mayhew for car park direction and the bar and galley staff. Also Kathryn and Carly who produced publicity material and arranged the online booking system.

Next, the N12 fleet is dividing into two weeks of practice, either at North West Norfolk Week or Salcombe Gin SYC Regatta before heading to Burton Week in Brixham on 18-21st August 2018.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st3544Tom StewartRobert StewartRHYC‑522116
2nd3530Graham CammZoe Ballantyne/Anya Camm/Felix CammBurghfield SC1114‑57
3rd3531Steve SallisJoanne SallisHykeham SC‑6333211
4th3443John ThorntonBryony ThorntonBurghfield SC76‑92318
5th3540Jon IbbotsonRachel SmithBurghfield SC3‑855720
6th3525Ian GoreAlex GoreUp River YC2487‑921
7th3483Jon BrownMaia BrownBurghfield SC494‑141128
8th3528Nick CopseyKaty MeadowcroftStokes Bay SC107‑116629
9th3445Nigel WhiteChris WhiteBurghfield SC957‑101031
10th3527Kevin IlesCharlotte StewartRYA‑121268834
11th3543John MeadowcroftDan MeadowcroftUpper Thames SC‑16131011438
12th3437Chris MayhewElouise MayhewRHYC811‑1291240
13th3545Tom LeeJenefer BuggeBurghfield SC1410‑15121450
14th3513George FinchLucy Homer/Saskia MiattRHYC13‑1413131352
15th3320Oliver MeadowcroftIsobel StewartUpper Thames SC1117‑18161559
16th3501Neal LillywhiteFreya LillywhiteBurghfield SC‑191816151665
17th3457David CopseRowan CopseBurghfield SC151614(DNC)DNC68
18th3546Stuart WalshTheo Covi‑WalshArdleigh SC17(DNF)20171771
19th3465Susie MartinDerek MayhewRHYC‑201917191873
20th3521Alan BeetonElla FordBurghfield SC1820‑21181975
21st3448Peter MiattOlivia MiattCarsington SC(DNF)1519DNCDNC80
22nd2153Angus BeytsPeter RussellNewburgh SC2121‑22202082

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