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Barton Marine 2019 728x90

National 12s at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club Regatta

by George Finch 3 Sep 2020 06:46 BST 29-31 August 2020
National 12s during the Royal Harwich Yacht Club Regatta © Carly Jones

A handful of N12 sailors descended on the Royal Harwich Yacht Club to take part in the club's annual regatta on Sunday 30th August and Monday 31st August.

With an ever-increasing wind forecast for Sunday 30th a few sailors decided the day before not to come for the two days of estuary sailing on the River Orwell, but six N12s were not put off and arrived. The northerly wind brought a chill through the dinghy park and it felt more like November than August, however this didn't stop four N12s launching ready for the first 'open' meeting since March.

With the early tide and big turn out for the Laser and Handicap fleets, the Race Officer decided the N12s should start within the handicap fleet to enable a quicker turn around between races.

Race 1 was a simple windward / leeward course, with the leeward mark positioned so the gybe was just after the windward mark, in a more sheltered area of the river, which the fleet were certainly thankful for. The fleet got away with a clean start, with John & Ollie Meadowcroft (N3543) showing the best way to the windward mark first, followed by George and Lucy Finch (N3551). Right behind where John & Bryony Thornton (N3443) and Chris & Nicole Mayhew (N3437). There was going to be close racing!

Not long after rounding a strong gust blew down the course, sending George & Lucy (N3551) slightly out of control (they are still getting used to their new boat!). John & Bryony (N3443) and Chris & Nicole (N3437) took advantage of this, keeping a steady course and both promptly overtook. The excitement didn't end here though, as towards the leeward mark a similar gust hit but unfortunately this time George & Lucy (N3551) had to head up to avoid a moored yacht and a Finn to leeward of them, capsizing in the process and firmly burying their mast in the River Orwell mud! John & Ollie (N3543) extended their lead during the 2nd and final lap and comfortably finished 1st within the N12s but also the whole handicap fleet.

For Race 2 the course did not change and once again the fleet had a clean start, perhaps with slightly less breeze, although still a few strong gusts. George and Lucy Finch (N3551) went for the committee boat end of the line with the others starting at the pin end. Initially the committee boat end, in more tide, looked to be favourable but as the fleet sailed towards the windward mark, it was clear the pin end had been the place to be. John and Ollie (N3543) rounded first out of the N12s, followed by John & Bryony (N3443) and Chris & Nicole (N3437). This order was kept for the race, although John & Bryony (N3443) were hot on the heels of John & Ollie (N3543) but couldn't quite catch them on the two lap race, finishing just 15 seconds behind. John & Ollie were 1st again in the handicap fleet, with John & Bryony 2nd in the handicap fleet.

For Race 3 the course remained however by now the tide was starting to ebb and this brought another tactical side to the racing. John and Bryony (N3443) showed how it was done in this race and were the first N12 over the line after some close racing with John & Ollie (N3543). The fleet were glad to head to the shore after 3 quite full-on races!

It was another early start on Monday to catch the early tide and the fleet were greeted with some sunshine and slightly more breeze than predicted, but nothing more than a Force 3.

The fleets launched, with Chris Mayhew now sailing with daughter Eloise, doing a boat swap into his old National 12 (N3443) with John & Bryony now sailing N3437. John Meadowcroft opted to let his son Ollie sail N3543 with Emelia Mayhew as crew. Dan & Katy Meadowcroft also took to the water in N3471, just leaving Gerald and Tanya Copsey (N3547) on shore to rig their Hijack design for the first time (they only bought it in August 2019 and still didn't manage to launch at this event!).

Race 1 was a W shaped course, with the first mark almost under the trees on the northern bank of the River Orwell, before a reach to Channel Mark 'Cat House' and then another beat to a 2nd windward mark, with a broad reach / downwind leg to Channel Mark No.7, before another reach to Channel Mark 'Park Bight' and then through the line. The wind was up and down with some oscillating shifts, giving the Race Officer a slight headache but after a short delay, the fleet got a clean start, favouring the pin end of the line.

John & Bryony (N3437) got the best start and were the first N12 to round the windward mark, followed almost at the same time by Ollie and Emelia (N3543). Dan & Katy (N3471) followed in 3rd. For the rest of the fleet it was now a battle to find clear air on the reach, either by heading up or away from the various boats in the handicap fleet. Once round 'Cat House', it was time for a tricky beat to the 2nd windward mark. Initially it paid to stay on starboard, in more tide, but there were a lot of holes to sail into. Ollie & Emelia (N3543) unfortunately touched the mark and therefore had to do a 360 turn, allowing George and Lucy (N3551) to catch up and sail into 3rd. However, Chris and Elouise (N3443), recovering after a bad start soon came in to join the fun.

By the time the fleet had reached 'No.7', George & Lucy (N3551) had caught up with Dan & Katy (N3471) and with the other two N12s behind, it was all quite close. Dan & Katy (N3471) made best use of the variable breeze to get ahead, with Ollie & Emelia (N3543) opting to sail in the channel and seemingly in their own breeze at times. Whatever Dan & Katy were doing paid as they managed to pull away from the pack and Ollie & Emelia just slipped in front of George & Lucy at 'Park Bight' before heading into Lap 2.

Now the wind seemed to turn off temporarily and a slow beat followed. Chris & Elouise (N3443) made best use of the shifts to approach the windward mark 3rd, with George & Lucy (N3551) on port just squeezing in front of Ollie & Emelia (N3543), who unfortunately nudged the mark. The wind was dropping even further and it was a slow reach to 'Cat House', with all 3 N12s rounding together. Yet another tricky beat followed, with all 3 N12s approaching the 2nd windward mark still together.

However, the most painful leg was yet to come, the reach from 'No. 7' to 'Park Bight', against the last of the flooding tide. Ollie & Emelia (N3543) opted to sail into the channel again, which initially looked slow, but in the end paid off as they overtook George & Lucy (N3551) and Chris & Elouise (N3443) before the end of the leg. There was a very very slow battle for 3rd place, which Ollie & Emelia mastered to finish 10 seconds ahead of Chris & Elouise (it felt like a lifetime). John & Bryony (N3437) won this race in the handicap fleet on corrected time by over two minutes.

For the second race the course was moved up river slightly and changed to a triangle / sausage course, with the finish line downwind through the line. The wind came, then went, then came again, then died off a bit. After some stability, the 2nd race was able to get under way, although the course was full of slow-moving Lasers who had started 5 minutes before!

John & Bryony (N3437) arrived at the windward mark 1st, with Ollie & Emelia (N3543) in 2nd and just behind them was George & Lucy (N3551) who had found a clear lane of breeze after a late start. With the tide now starting to ebb, George & Lucy (N3551) headed slightly more up river. The benefit of this was on the approach to 'Cat House' they were able to 'creep' outside of the pack of lasers and past John & Bryony (N3437) and Ollie & Emelia (N3543). The lasers were struggling to lay the mark with the ebbing tide and caused both John & Bryony and Ollie & Emelia to gybe against the tide to ensure they made the mark. [The picture "Cat House Pile Up" probably does a better job of explaining the situation!] George and Lucy (N3551) took full advantage of their clean break and with just two lasers ahead, enjoyed a fetch to the line before the final beat began. Initially a wind shift meant the beat had become a fetch, allowing George & Lucy, with the help of their T-Foil Rudder to power past the 2 lasers and into the front of the whole fleet, providing some fantastic clear air. As the wind shifted back, they tacked on the shifts and continued to gain whilst the wind held.

The wind began to drop as they approached the windward mark, but with the tide assisting the run to the finish line, they were away and crossed the line ahead of all the Lasers who'd begun 5 minutes before and therefore took the win for the handicap and N12 fleet - a first for their new boat!

Before Race 3 the wind looked as though it may not return and the visiting N12s headed in to begin packing up their boats, but as Chris was sailing John's N12, Chris couldn't stay out either, so just George & Lucy were left to represent the N12s in the final race of the weekend. The handicap fleet had a clear start in very light airs, although about 1 minute into the race some wind appeared and the conditions were the best so far, with a constant 10-12kts blowing! With the same course as Race 2, the race was over within 14 minutes, with George and Lucy (N3551) finishing as 1st and only N12, but 2nd within the handicap fleet - the only handicap fleet race of the weekend not won by a National 12!

It was an excellent way to spend two days when at the start of the year, the N12 fleet were looking forward to their National Championships over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Thanks go to the RHYC for running their first 'Open' event after RHYC's Junior Race Week and allowing a group of N12 sailors to race together and enjoy some (distanced) time on the RHYC lawn after visiting the club bar again, hopefully the first of a few more events this year for the class.

Overall Results:

PosBoatSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1stThe Full Monty3443John ThorntonBryony ThorntonBurghfield SC2211‑4(DNC)6
2ndOver The Rainbow3551George FinchLucy FinchRoyal Harwich YC‑444‑51110
3rdD.B.Cooper3543John MeadowcroftOliver MeadowcroftUpper Thames SC112(DNC)(DNC)DNC12
4thWorth Its Weight3437Chris MayhewNicole Mayhew / Eloise MayhewRoyal Harwich YC333‑43(DNC)12
5thD.B.Cooper3543Ollie MeadowcroftEmelia MayhewUpper Thames SC(DNC)(DNC)DNC32DNC21
6thLars Porsena Of Clusium3471Dan MeadowcroftKaty MeadowcroftUpper Thames SC(DNC)(DNC)DNC25DNC23
7thThe Ultimate Pudding3547Gerald CopseyTanya CopseyEly SC(DNC)(DNC)DNCDNCDNCDNC32

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