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2021 Allen Sailing National 12 Burton Week at Shoreham Sailing Club

by George Finch 6 Sep 16:21 BST 27-30 August 2021

Postponed from 2020, the National 12 National Championship, known as Burton Week was much anticipated. With no Burton Cup sailed in 2019 (no wind) or 2020 (no event) and new helm/crew combinations for 2021, there was a lot to look forward too.

Competitors began arriving on the afternoon of Thursday 26th and were greeted by Sophie Mackley, well known in the N12 fleet but for this event, chief organiser, and commodore of Shoreham Sailing Club. With each N12 allotted a slot in the dinghy park, boat measurement / weighing taking place in the club's store and tents popping up where there was space, one thing was clear - the N12s were definitely taking over the club for the long weekend! As more sailors arrived, the club's bar opened up and the competitors all enjoyed catching up.

Friday 27th August

With racing not due to start until 14:00, our Race Officer for the week - William Warren - was increasingly nervous about the northerly wind and expected sea breeze meeting and cancelling each other out. After the 12:00 briefing, William and team launched and headed out to sea, where the famous Shoreham waves had disappeared, as had the wind. Nevertheless, the fleet were released to launch at 13:15 and slowly headed out to the start area, where a northerly wind was just holding.

The course for Race 1 was Course 'D' - Sausage / Triangle. Surprisingly for the N12 fleet, there was a clean getaway on the first start into the gentle shifting breeze. Graham Camm, now with daughter Anya as crew (N3530), showed their training this year had paid off and sailed very well to take the win. Antony and Jo Gifford (N3529), back in their N12 for the first time since 2019 led for a good proportion of the race, finishing in 2nd place with Tom and Isobel Stewart (N3544) in 3rd.

Race 2 began in similar breeze, although with a large shift 10 seconds before the gun, it was then abandoned within 15 minutes. A shame for some, especially Paul Bristow (crewed by Richard Willets) in his lovingly restored 'Sparklet' from 1963 - N2123, who had noticed the shift before the start and was sailing very fast, perhaps even leading the fleet!

Race 2 re-started a short while later with the same 'D' course. But with the big swings in the wind, the decision on where to start was a difficult one. As was getting the beat right, plenty of opportunity for snakes and ladders, most of the fleet were able to find the snakes but the ladders were rarer. Jon and Sam Brown (N3483) got a lot of this race right and showed how competitive their 20-year-old 'Paradox' design is, with a Simon Hipkin retro fit T-Foil rudder. They led for over half the race. Steve and Jo Sallis (N3531) were back in the game for this race and pushing hard. Antony and Jo Gifford (N3529) were also up there, showing their lack of practice hadn't slowed them up. One thing about the 'D' Course, the fleet really stays together and bunches up at the leeward mark.

Race Officer William Warren mentioned that he was likely to finish the fleet at the top of the beat to give a shorter sail back to shore, this was a welcome decision. On the final beat of Race 2, you had to go left. Those who went right, lost a lot of places. Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) in N3540 went left and out of nowhere crossed the line first. Jon and Sam Brown (N3483) sadly went right and saw all their hard work in Race 2 undone, finishing 5th. Steve and Jo Sallis (N3531) were 2nd, with Graham and Anya Camm (N3530) in 3rd.

The fleet then headed ashore for a relaxed evening in the club bar, with catering provided by the team at Shoreham. Buddy Teams were announced and the first buddy prizes, courtesy of Dinghy Shack were given out.

Saturday 28th August - Burton Cup (Sponsored by KitBrix)

There was much anticipation in the dinghy park on Saturday morning. For some, their first Burton Cup, but for those who had sailed this race before, they knew what to expect. Or did they? Some seasoned N12 sailors hadn't read the Sailing Instructions yet, which contained one big change for 2021 - the Burton Cup may no longer be a triangle, with 4 laps each a mile long. After the wind failed to materialise for the 2019 Burton Cup, the class went away and had a think about this race. It needed to be a challenge, it needed to be hard, but did it need to be a triangle? National 12 Encyclopaedia Michael Brookman had spent many hours researching the history and deed of gift from 1936. No mention of a triangle.

After a few reminders in the dinghy park to check the course board, the fleet set out for the 2021 Burton Cup. Course 'C' was sent (C for Square), and no number of laps, as the Burton Cup is now a 2 hour (ish) race.

A general recall on the first start saw the black flag appear for the first time. With a bit of tide able to push boats over, it was best to hold back, and the fleet got away on the 2nd attempt. No one was OCS. Was anyone black flagged?

Going right seemed to work initially, with Antony and Jo Gifford (N3529), Ollie Meadowcroft and Sophie Edwards (N3543), Mary Henderson and Sarah Conlon (N3546) and George & Lucy Finch (N3551) all heading off this way. Antony and Jo Gifford (N3529) and Ollie Meadowcroft & Sophie Edwards (N3543) tacked off before truly 'banging the corner'. Tom and Isobel Stewart (N3544) rounded the windward mark first, but a group of 6 or so boats were very close behind, including all those who started by going right.

On the first reach, there was some very close sailing and lots of wake surfing which gave Warwick Baker the perfect opportunity to take some awesome photos. The fleet bore away around the next mark, for the first ever downwind run in a Burton Cup, in its 85-year history. Clear air was the best option, if you could find it. The fleet were still very close together here, with quite a few gybes being carried out. Mary Henderson and Sarah Conlon (N3546) went left, then had to crash gybe back into the fleet at the mark. Somehow, they avoided the mark and any other boats.

By this stage the wind had shifted so the next leg was also slightly downwind. Mary and Sarah in N3546 tried the same strategy here, although unfortunately hit the leeward mark. Ahead, Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) had got their lead back from Ollie Meadowcroft & Sophie Edwards (N3543).

By the 2nd lap, a few groups of boats were appearing, with Tom & Isobel (N3544) and Ollie & Sophie (N3543) just ahead of the first pack. Ultimately the laps all blur into one, especially with the odd fruity gust but otherwise thoroughly enjoyable breeze of around 15kts. A few occasionally opted to walk round at the gybe mark, perhaps sensible!

Whilst the breeze strength was perfect for the National 12, some of the shifts upwind were brutal. Jon and Sam Brown (N3483) fell victim to one and capsized, although recovered very promptly. John Meadowcroft and Jude Armstrong (N3431) also fell in, although spent a little bit longer swimming. Gavin Willis and Chris Baker (N3485) fell out of the boat, or at least one of them did. It was "Gavin's worst race ever". Dan Meadowcroft and Zoe Ballantyne (N3471) caught a strong gust on the approach to the 2nd mark on one of the laps, causing them to pass it to starboard, rather than port. Amazingly, no damage was done but some of the words heard on the race course at that time are not repeatable here, even if you are reading this past 9pm!

With the elapsed time approaching 2 hours, it was time for Alan Warren to pull up his mackerel line and the committee boat moved to the gybe mark to finish the first boats, which were now starting to lap the back end of the fleet.

It was Tom and Isobel Stewart who took the win for the 2021 Burton Cup, with a substantial lead by the end. Ollie Meadowcroft and Sophie Edwards in N3543, a 'Hijack' design, sailed an impressive race to maintain second, followed by Kevin Iles and Katy Meadowcroft (N3527) in 3rd place. 4th went to Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith (N3540).

Everyone came off the water smiling, not just because there was free Pimm's on arrival in the dinghy park, but because the race, in its new format had been thoroughly enjoyable. Even though the fleet split out, there were groups of boats where the racing remained competitive for the whole two hours.

Remember the black flag start? 3 boats had actually fallen the wrong side of the line in the minute before the start. Oh well, it was an enjoyable sail for them at least.

Burton Cup Results:

1st Tom and Isobel Stewart, N3544. Whitebail (Dead Cat Bounce)
2nd Ollie Meadowcroft & Sophie Edwards, N3543, D.B. Cooper (Hijack)
3rd Kevin Iles & Katy Meadowcroft, N3527, Snagglepuss (Dead Cat Bounce)
4th Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith, N3540, Atomic Kitten, (Dead Cat Bounce)
1st U21 - Ollie Meadowcroft & Sophie Edwards, N3543, D.B. Cooper (Hijack)
1st Canter (22-40 yr old) - George & Lucy Finch, N3551, Over The Rainbow (Dead Cat Bounce)
1st Grand Master - Kevin Iles & Katy Meadowcroft, N3527, Snagglepuss (Dead Cat Bounce)
1st Non T-Foil - Tim & Chris Hampshire, N3502 - Carbonara (Big Issue 2)
1st Coronation Cup (Married Couple) - Anthony and Jo Gifford, N3529 - Cat In the Hat (Dead Cat Bounce)

In the late afternoon, Isobel Stewart, Fran Gifford and Zoe Ballantyne organised some beach style games in the dinghy park before the N.T.O.A. AGM and ad-hoc disco, courtesy of Ivan the Shoreham Sailing Club barman, who is also a 'Northern Soul' DJ.

Sunday 29th August

With a similar forecast to the first day, the RO William Warren had brought Sunday's two races forward to 10:00 instead of 12:00. The breeze was gentle as the fleet headed out to the start and it looked to be the correct decision. The first start quickly became a general recall so the black flag was used for the 2nd start of Race 4. Course 'D'.

As the start gun went, the wind began to disappear and for many boats it was hard to get going. There was a real mix of boats at the first mark, with many of the favourites well into the top 15. For many, this was the result to discard! Graham and Anya Camm (N3530) pulled through to win after just two laps of the course, with Steve and Jo Sallis (N3531) in 2nd, followed by Antony and Jo Gifford (N3529) in 3rd. For the author of this report, the less said the better.

After Race 4, the wind died off completely for at least 20 minutes, with many of the fleet wondering if RO William Warren was going to abandon for the day. The committee boat lifted anchor and headed out further to sea, with the fleet slowly following. Magically, a few zephyrs of land breeze returned and within a few minutes, the line was set.

Race 5 was to be Course 'D' again. With the wind likely to drop off during the race, RO William Warren wasted no time and flew the black flag as the 4-minute gun went. Clean air was a must for this start, but so was starting near the committee boat. A few started at the pin end and it looked good, until they were hit with a 40deg header. Kevin Iles and Katy Meadowcroft (N3527) had exceptional boat speed during this beat and were first at the windward mark and began to extend their lead. The tide was now pulling towards Brighton, and it paid to head right on the first downwind, if you could find clear breeze.

Kevin Iles and Katy Meadowcroft (N3527) still led. Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) were in pursuit and did overtake briefly, but Kevin and Katy fought back. After two slow reaching legs on the 2nd lap, the breeze began to swing substantially. Those who made it round the leeward mark on lap 3 onto the final beat were away. Those who hadn't gone right on the downwind in this lap were left struggling against the tide as the wind died, 15 metres from the mark. The sort of racing here had echoes of that experienced during North West Norfolk Week. George and Lucy Finch (N3551) used their tidal sailing knowledge here and managed to slip past 5 boats. Kevin Iles and Katy Meadowcroft (N3527) won, with Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) in 2nd and Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) in 3rd.

It was a slow beat back to shore, made slightly longer when a commercial vessel approached Shoreham and many of the fleet had to wait outside the harbour until she had passed. Nevertheless, on reflection RO William Warren probably made the right call as the fleet had plenty of time for ice creams, paddleboarding or napping before getting ready for the Burton Cup dinner at Sussex Yacht Club.

Monday 30th August

Despite a few sore heads from the Burton Dinner the evening before, the fleet were rigging up in the dinghy park for the final day of Burton Week 2021. Reports of a 'fresh breeze' from the water provided some encouragement to the fleet after the previous day's light airs.

For Race 6, Course 'D' was set and the fleet got away promptly, only to be recalled. Up came the black flag and a clean get away for the fleet on the 2nd attempt. With the northerly winds there was occasionally some short sharp chop which had the ability to stall progress up the beat, it was best to avoid this. Tom and Isobel Stewart (N3544) sailed up the middle and rounded first, with Steve Sallis & Helen Hilditch (N3531) chasing not far behind.

The fleet were close together but spread wide for the first downwind leg and one thing was sure - the leeward mark would be 'interesting'. Those who sailed around the outside came off best and seemed to avoid the shouting too. The beats were still shifty, which kept all the sailors focused. Jon & Sam Brown (N3483) were sailing their Paradox (with retro fit T Foil) very fast again.

Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) managed to fend off Steve Sallis & Helen Hilditch (N3531) to win the race, with Jon Ibbotson and Rachel Smith (N3540) crossing the line 3rd.

One race to go and the points at the top were incredibly close. The results from Race 7 were going to decide who the 2021 N12 National Champions would be. A black flag on the 2nd attempted start, with slightly less breeze now and the fleet got away. Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) were quick to find clear air and sail fast. Steve Sallis & Helen Hilditch (N3531) kept chasing, rounding the windward mark just behind. Again, with Course 'D', clean air, thinking about the tide and avoiding collisions were a good plan.

The tide pulled some of the fleet the wrong side of the leeward mark, this kept things close for those in 3rd to 20th place. For the 2nd beat, the right seemed to work, although the tide helped a lot of the fleet overstand the windward mark. The two reaches were perfect and another great opportunity for the photo boat to get snap happy. The committee boat had now moved to the windward mark and the 3rd beat was going to be the final leg of the course, and of Burton Week 2021. Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) maintained the lead to take the bullet, with Steve Sallis & Helen Hildtich (N3531) in 2nd. Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) followed in 3rd.

A special well done to Elouise Mayhew, who was fresh from the Cadet Nationals and helming her first National 12 races, with dad Chris Mayhew as crew, sailing N3437.

Overall Results:
If you finished in the top ten at the National 12 nationals then enter your Gear Guide information here

PosSail NoHelmCrewBoat NameClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7Pts
13544Tom StewartIsobel StewartWhitebaitRoyal Harwich YC361631115
23530Graham CammAnya CammVery Hungry CaterpillarBurghfield SC138126316
33531Steve SallisJoanne Sallis / Helen HilditchCatbertHykeham SC1125252218
43540Jon IbbotsonRachel SmithAtomic KittenBurghfield SC5141043522
53529Antony GiffordJo GiffordCat In The HatRoyal Tay YC247397629
63527Kevin IlesKaty MeadowcroftSnagglepussWest Oxfordshire SC1393818736
73483Jon BrownSam BrownTontoBurghfield SC9561284436
83525Ian GoreAlex GoreMogUp River YC479469939
93543Ollie MeadowcroftSophie EdwardsD B CooperUpper Thames / Tata Steel1012211105846
103546Mary HendersonSarah ConlonShades Of GreyBrightlingsea SC61313512131562
113526Christian DaySophie DayCatch The SunOxford University YC81612307141269
123551George FinchLucy Finch0ver The RainbowRoyal Harwich YC1415101913101072
133515Geoff CammHenry CammHappy Hour0tfWarsash SC161017711211374
143471Dan MeadowcroftZoe Ballantyne / Emilia MayhewLars Porsena Of ClusiumUpper Thames SC151911917121175
153485Gavin WillisChris BakerF'in BoatBristol Corinthian YC711211415191884
163431John MeadowcroftJude ArmstrongZippyUpper Thames SC1818141614111487
173545Tom LeeJenefer BuggeA Wood And A SheepBurghfield SC178151818151689
183537Mike HoyleCatherine SearsLolaSalcombe YC1214181330181792
193538Steve CarverChloe HardingGlass And A Half FullUEA SC19171615192020106
203475Patrick HamiltonCharlotte StewartUn Poco LocoBurwain SC20203023201619118
213492George GrahamEllie Clark / AmeliaBabel FishBurwain SC21222221222221129
223502Tim HampshireChris HampshireCarbonaraRipon SC25211924232323133
233513Adam FullerSaffron HillSilver LiningOrwell YC30302020163030146
243437Elouise MayhewChris MayhewWorth Its WeightRoyal Harwich YC30303026241722149
253528Peter MiattOlivia MiattBlue KangarooCarsington SC23303022213030156
262123Paul BristowRichard WillettsPerplexityBurghfield SC22243025253030156
273411Angus BeytsTom WaswiicisEsmereldaNewbugh SC24233027263030160
283501Neal LillywhiteLauren AnthonySilverfinBurghfield SC30303017303030167
293547Gerald CopseyTanya CopseyThe Ultimate PuddingEly SC26303030303030176

1st Non T-Foil - Tim & Chris Hampshire (N3502)
1st Canter Trophy (22-40yr old) - Mary Henderson & Sarah Conlon (N3546)
1st Grand Master (55+) - Steve Sallis & Jo Sallis / Helen Hildtich (N3531)
1st Admirals Cup - Paul Bristow & Richard Willets (N2123)

Full subsidiary results (including Burton Brick) available at www.national12.org/burtonweek/2021/index.html#results

Some excellent photos from Warwick Baker available at www.warwickpics.com/national-12---august-2021.html

Thanks to Allen Sailing, Dinghy Shack and Kitbrix for sponsoring our event. Next the N12 fleet heads to Northampton Sailing Club to celebrate 85 years of the class on 11th and 12th September.

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