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Yeoman & Kinsman Nationals and Keelboat Open at Norfolk Punt Club

by Rachel Clayton 18 Jun 17:43 BST 15-16 June 2024
Yeoman Nationals at the Norfolk Punt Club © Rachel Clayton

On the whole, the real-live weather wasn't quite as wild as the forecast predicted, but the game sailors who turned up to Barton Broad for Norfolk Punt Club's Yeoman & Kinsman Nationals and Keelboat Open were treated to a veritable medley of all four seasons' weather.

At times under blue skies, at times under black cloud, at times under gallons of rain and at times with lightening ripping across the sky and thunder clapping above, 7 Yeomans contested the National Championship, and 4 Yare & Bure One Designs (YBODs) and 1 Broads One Design (BOD) contested the Keelboat Open.

In the first Yeoman race Alastair and Charlotte Drew in Turnstone made an impressive port flier but it was Flip Dugdale and Roger Hannant in Firefly who led from start to finish, with Turnstone second. Ben Adams and Tom Quate in Panope took third. The remainder of the fleet initially had some close racing but were well spread out towards the end of the race. All but two keelboat helms erred on the side of caution and took two crew, the third acting as useful ballast in the F3/4 with frequently harsh gusts. Peter Robbins in Small White led from the start, followed by Simon Daniels in Silver Blue and Stephen Driver in Grizzled Skipper third.

With the wind turning more southerly during lunch, OOD Simon Clayton and his team changed the course accordingly. Typically, when the wind dropped after the start it returned to its original south west. Added to this was thunder and lightning. It poured, it swung, it dropped and it squalled. The Yeomans spread out and three were disqualified for sailing the wrong course. The first three positions went to those flying spinnakers; Firefly, Turnstone and Folly 2, sailed by Chris and A Bolton. In the YBODs Silver Blue took first from Small White, with Grizzled Skipper again third. Unfortunately, slippery floorboards saw a guest YBOD crew seriously splitting his lip and needing stiches. Surely he hadn't come all the way from Australia to sightsee the inside of our hospital?

An impending storm saw the competitors sheltering on the club pontoon, thankful for the short postponement of race 3. Those watching were treated to a stunning sight at the starts, with lightning against a jet-black sky, and a foreground of sun on the sails. English weather at its most striking. For the first time Firefly was passed thanks to the spinnaker work on Folly 2, but Firefly wasn't having any of it and it wasn't long before she passed underneath Folly 2 on the beat and thereafter took a decisive lead. Folly 2 held onto second and Turnstone came in third. Kathy Gill and Simon Learmount sailing their Broads One Design (BOD) Greenshank were the only competitors for the Mixed One Design fleet within the Keelboat Open and consequently sailed with the YBODs, and in this race they asserted their dominance with a cracking start and taking a long lead throughout the race. Silver Blue and Small White once again took first and second in the YBODs, with club veteran David Adler in Marsh Ringlet third. Despite dropping during the race, the wind picked up strongly by the end, causing several helms to opt for a cautionary ware round the final downwind mark.

Spirits and strength were revived at a barbeque in the sunshine, where we were kindly hosted by Ashmanhaugh & Barton Wanderers Cricket Club and joined by local club members.

A few crew changes appeared on Sunday, along with sunshine until 5 minutes after the first start, when a storm brought driving rain and planing conditions. In the hairy conditions the entire Yeoman fleet was convinced, incorrectly, that it had to gybe round the downwind mark, so much 'undoing' ensued but unfortunately necessitating three disqualifications for those who didn't. After the passing of the storm the rest of the race was sailed in benign conditions. Firefly, who had set the gybing and consequent exonerating trend, took the bullet followed by Folly 2 and Turnstone. In the YBODs, despite gaining on Small White, Silver Blue couldn't take the lead before the disappointment of hearing a shortened course signal - a relief, however, for Small White.

Over lunch the wind shifted round to the north west, so buoys were brought from one end of the broad to the other and the starting direction was changed. The question was, would it remain in this direction until the start, let alone for the duration of the race? Despite having already won the event with 4 firsts (the event allowing 1 discard), Firefire asserted her dominance with another convincing lead from start to finish. Port was the favourable starting end, from which Panope and Scorpio, sailed by Stephen Middleditch and Maria Spreadbury, finished second and third. With a clean sweep Firefly took the Moores Trophy, second overall was Turnstone and third Folly 2.

In the last race for the YBOD fleet it was all to play for between Silver Blue and Small White. These two boats tussled throughout the race with Small White starting ahead, being overtaken by Silver Blue who then fell into a hole, never to regain the lead. With this nailbiting race it was Small White who took the Consortium Cup, with Silver Blue second and Grizzled Skipper third.

Immediately after the Yeoman and Keelboat prize-giving the club races were started, by which time the wind had returned to a fairly steady south west and the day ending in sunshine. 5 contended the allcomers fleet with two YBODs, the BOD and two Norfolk Punts. YBOD Coronet made her first appearance of the weekend sailed by Francis Trappes-Lomax who, with many crew, won the race from Small White whose helm had been taken over by her crew, Chris Pugh. This time BOD Greenshank was helmed by Simon Learmount with Kathy, and two family members out for their first sail, coming third.

With the rest of the sailors deciding that tea and cake was more pleasurable than sailing there were only two Norfolk Punts for the final allcomers race. Razorbill, sailed by Richard Parker and Robert Snelling, won from Jack Holland and Gavin Smith in Great White, in now calm and sunny conditions. All good practice for the Norfolk Punt Open being held next weekend, 22 & 23 June at the Norfolk Punt Club.

Overall Results:

Yeoman Nationals
Moores Trophy for National Championship winning helm Flip Dugdale (Firefly)
J&N Trophy for National Championship winning crew Roger Hannant (Firefly)
Chairman Trophy for National Championship 2nd place Alastair/Charlotte Drew (Turnstone)
Scott Salver for National Championship 3rd place Chris/A Bolton (Folly 2)
Alan Wheatley Trophy for highest place without spinnaker Stephen Middleditch/Maria Spreadbury (Scorpio)

Keelboat Open
Consortium Cup Peter Robbins/Chris Pugh/Caroline Dixey (Small White)
Whelpton Trophy for highest NPC member Peter Robbins/Chris Pugh/Caroline Dixey (Small White)
NPC Mixed Keels Open Trophy Kathy Gill/Simon Learmount (Greenshank)

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