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Yeoman Broadland National Championship 2022 at Norfolk Broads Yacht Club

by Frances Holmes 3 Jul 18:56 BST 25-26 June 2022

The weekend saw 18 Yeoman gather on Wroxham Broad for this year's Yeoman Broadland National Championship.

The sun shone and the wind blew with gusts up to 26 mph. With a knowing gaze over the white horses crossing Wroxham Broad, and a big grin on his weathered face an old-timer proclaimed, 'This is Yeoman weather'. Amongst the entrants were a determined group from Coldham Hall Sailing Club who had sailed for 12 hours last Friday down the Yare fighting through Breydon Water in 'biblical conditions' to reach Gt. Yarmouth and sail back along the Bure to Wroxham. Although most of the competitors were well known an extra spice was added by the involvement of two crews new to the Yeoman. The first was the young team led by Will Pank in Topaz (Y4) - one of the very first Yeoman built over 50 years ago. The second was the highly experienced dinghy sailor, John Ball and his crew, David Parnell, in the newly restored Y175 (Katie) which only had its first outing a week previous.

The race officers decided on a down-broad start from the north to give a long beat to the first mark. Competitors set off in choppy waters and very soon last year's National Champion, Flip Dugdale crewed by Roger Hannant, led the pack. Once they turned to run back up the Broad crews in the leading group hoisted their spinnakers which lifted the boats as they sped magnificently past the clubhouse. John Ball & David Parnell chased hard but could do nothing to overhaul the leaders whilst Will Pank, three up in Topaz, gained an impressive third place. The second race of the day followed a similar pattern with Flip & Roger again giving a masterclass on how to sail in these conditions, they were followed home by John & David but this time the experienced Paul & Janet Barker in Brandy Bottle took third place.

On Sunday it was even gustier (up to the high 20s), and race officers briefly contemplated on postponing racing. However, competitors were more than game explaining that this was good sailing conditions for the hardy Yeoman, although several had by now adopted the smaller storm gib option. Results soon fell into a familiar pattern with Firefly controlling events from the front and Katie battling with Topaz to secure second and third places. By the end of the fourth race, with a full house of firsts Flip & Roger in Firefly had won the Championship, whilst John & David in Katie was overall second and Will Pank & team in Topaz third. Although final placings were settled, the Yeoman sailors were experiencing thrilling conditions and the final race was still hotly contested with Will eventually securing victory over John in second and Flip in third.

Everyone agreed that this was an excellent championship series greatly enjoyed by both competitors and spectators alike. Crews respected both the conditions and other sailors and there were no adverse incidents on the water, as a result racing was both competitive and done in a good spirit. The Yeoman proved a sturdy craft withstanding all the stresses the high winds made on its rigging and hull. At the end of the weekend, it was definitely a case of everyone being a winner.

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