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Steve Nicholson Trophy in aid of Asthma UK

by John Wayling 6 Feb 19:01 GMT 30 January 2022
Steve Nicholson Trophy 2022 © Maria Elvira Franco

The Steve Nicholson Trophy is a key open meeting in the UK winter sailing calendar and is held annually at Northampton Sailing Club. It was a welcome return for the event, which raises money for Asthma UK in memory of Steve Nicholson, a young, popular and talented sailor at Northampton who tragically died after an asthma attack in 2000.

A Beautiful January Morning

Visitors were greeted by a very bright and sunny morning, but with a low mist and no wind. As more people arrived the mist cleared and the windsock started to wake up.

The PRO Martyn Emerson held a short briefing at 10am and set out the trapezoid course with many laps planned so he could shorten the race, as required.

This was the window between storm Malik and storm Corrie and the forecast was for 7-10 knots. A combination of the weather forecast and covid meant that numbers were down on previous years, but there were still 50 boats competing, evenly split between single and double-handers.

Race 1: single-handers

By the time of the first race there was a steady (!) 4 knots across most of the lake. The single-handers started promptly at 10:40, which saw a couple of boats trying their luck on port which did not pay. Others opted for the middle track, tacking on the shifts, while the more adventurous banged a corner to get clean air, which was difficult find along with any pressure. The Phantom of Andy Couch (Blithfield SC) popped out of the melee to round the first mark in front and was never caught, extending his lead to take the gun. He was followed home by the Solo of Ollie Davenport (Northampton SC) and third place was taken by the RS Vareo of Luke Fisher (Emberton SC).

Race 2: double-handers

The first double-handers' race started straight afterwards with a quick reset of the course to allow for the shifting breeze, which had increased at times to its forecast strength, but only briefly. The 505's of Ian Pinnell/Alex Davis (Northampton SC) and Michael Simms/Andrew George (Carsington SC) were seen to pull away up the beat. The RS400's of Nick Craig/Adam Craig and Sam Knit/Chris Bowness with the Merlin Rocket with Thomas Gillard/Rachel Gray on board were also looking particularly good on corrected time. At the gun, and after corrected time, it was the Merlin of Thomas Gillard/Rachel Gray (Staunton Harold SC) which came good, followed in by the RS400 of Nick Craig/Adam Craig (Frensham/Burghfield SC) and third place just held by Ian Pinnell/Alex Davis (Northampton SC).

Race 3: single-handers

The second single-handers' race followed with a slight delay to twist the course as the wavering breeze, fulfilling its forecast on occasions, now set in the SW direction.

Having failed with a port end flyer in the 1st race the K1 of John Wayling (Northampton SC), tried to play with the big boys and was promptly pushed over the line by a friendly Solo, giving him an OCS and fame at the prize-giving. The International Moth sailed by Olympic Gold Medallist, Dylan Fletcher-Scott was seen around the race track, foiling at times, but a lack breeze was making it very challenging to foil upwind. He went in early to shower and prepare for his Q&A session that followed the prize-giving. The rest of the fleet started cleanly and enjoyed a breeze just enough to put the shoulders back. This time it was the turn of Phantom sailed by Richard Nurse (Northampton SC), to hand out the lesson and pull away. The Phantoms of Andy Couch (Blithfield SC) and Paul Childs (Hayling Island) were hard on his heels. Once again the RS Vareo was looking good on corrected time. The finishing order after time correction was a top three Phantom finish: Richard Nurse in first place, followed by Andy Couch and then Paul Childs in third.

Race 4: double-handers

The second double-handers' race followed with the breeze just about holding. The big kites of the 505's were looking pretty, popping up as they lead the fleet around the top mark, but the Merlins and RS400 were not giving up easily. A gaggle of Larks, with seven boats and the largest fleet rounded in quick succession, but the RS400 of Sam Knight/Chris Bownes (Bartley SC) managed to grab the bullet after corrected time with second place taken by the Merlin Rocket of Thomas Gillard/Rachel Gray (Staunton Harold) and third place going to the 505 of Ian Pinnell/Alex Davis (Northampton SC).

Between races the sailors enjoyed an excellent choice of hot food from the galley, and the bar was open all day for the spectators to enjoy.

The winners

The prize-giving, sponsored by Pinnell & Bax and Harken was held nice and promptly with some very good prizes presented to the youth fleet and the top three in both single and double-handed categories. Andy Couch of Blithfield took the single-handed honours in his Phantom and Thomas Gillard/Rachel Gray of Staunton Harold took the double-handed victory.

Olympic champion Q&A

After the prize-giving followed a Q&A session hosted by Dylan Fletcher-Scott - 49er Olympic Gold Medallist in Tokyo. He was pleased to return to Northampton, where he sailed from the age of 11 and started racing from 13 years of age, trained by several of the existing club members in his Hobbie 405.

Dylan talked about his memories of the club as well as giving a fascinating insight into Olympic experience.

Thank you to all the sailors and volunteers

The final amount of money raised, including donations, for Asthma UK is still to be confirmed.

Thanks go to all the sailors who took part as well as the many volunteers. These included members of Northampton Sailing Club and Northampton Sailability, who ran the racing, provided rescue support, collated the results, organised the prizes and ran the bar to make this another successful and very enjoyable event.

For more information about Northampton Sailing Club, go to or check out the facebook page at

Overall Results:

PosClassSail NoHelmCrewClubPYR1R2Pts
1stPhantom1456Andy Crouch Blithfield1004123
2ndRS Vareo621Luke Fisher Emberton1093347
3rdPhantom1337Richard Nurse Northampton10049110
4thSolo5954Oliver Davenport Northampton11522911
5thStreaker1972Veronica Falat Waveny & Oulton Broad11555611
6thSolo6017Mike Dray Littleton11524812
7thPhantom1485Rob Cook Northampton10048513
8thPhantom1489Paul Childs Hayling Island100413316
9thPhantom1492Jim Hopton Shustoke100410717
10thRS Vareo443Paul North Milton Keynes109361521
11thD‑Zero181Gordon Stewart North Herts and East Beds1043121022
12thSupernova1192John Knight Bartley1077111324
13thPhantom1342Mark Spruce Lee on Solent1004151227
14thTopper48907Keali Rhodes Northampton1365171128
15thK1123John Wayling Northampton10647OCS29
16thPhantom1347Brian Webley Shustoke1004161430
17thPhantom1318David Patrick Broadwater1004141832
18thLaser200143Colin Masters Northampton1108181634
19thMusto Skiff499James Stewart Netley849191736
20thRS Aero 53888Marcus Pakes Haversham1136201939
21stInternational Moth4853Dylan Fletcher Northampton550DNC2042
1stMerlin Rocket3759Thomas GillardRach GrayStaunton Harold980123
2ndRS 4001376Sam KnightChris BownesBartley953415
3rdRS 4001500Nick CraigAdam CraigFrensham Burghfield953246
4th5059238Ian PinnellAlex DaviesNorthampton883336
5th5058935Michael SimsAndrew GeorgeCarsington8835510
6thGP1414238Fergus BarnhamJasper BarnhamNorthampton11306713
7thFlying Fifteen3918Paul BusbyNeil BarfordNorthampton10219615
8thScorpion2034Alan KrailingSimon ForbesSHSC103081119
9thScorpion2039Nev HerbertKarl ThorneLymington Town103012921
10thLark2468Samuel BaileyFinlay MorganSouth Staffordshire1073111021
11thEnterprise22901Paul YoungJane KimberMidland115371522
12thRS 2001069Isaac MarshRichard AbendsternNorthampton1046101222
13thLark2541Simon CoxGeorge Cox‑OliffBrightlingsea107319827
14thLark2540Stuart HydonNick HydonShustoke1073141428
15thLark2471Matt WhiteMarion EnkelWaldringham1073161329
16thLark2509Stuart AllenJulia AllenBanbury1073151732
17thRS 2001452Alistair HodgsonElla SpainUpton Warren1046171633
18thMerlin Rocket3775Chris JenningsPete NicholsonBurghfield/Brightlingsea98013OCS35
19thLark2537Neil FirthSue FirthBanbury1073221840
20thFlying Fifteen3765Chris WhiteRoger le PlaNorthampton102118OCS40
21stRS 4001340Stuart HarrisTony AthertonBanbury953211940
22ndLark2515Matt Newton‑SherlockSimon MorrisBarnt Green1073202040
23rdAlbacore8158Matthew Metcalfe‑SmithEmma Metcalfe‑SmithOgston1053232144
24thLaser 30003322Rachel PowellOlivia JoyceNorthampton1085DNFRET47
25thRS 2001125Patrick PakesHelen PakesHaversham104624DNC49

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