National 12 - find out more...

Salcombe Open Meeting  

In usual fashion for the first May Bank Holiday Weekend, the National 12 fleet descended on Salcombe for 3 days of sunshine, ice cream and sailing. A few regulars from the fleet were absent so ten N12s, and twenty sailors, took to the water.

Race 1 - Saturday

Despite promises of it always being sunny in Salcombe, there was a burst of torrential rain just as the fleet were getting ready at Baston Slipway. As the first boats launched, the rain stopped, but the wind had not arrived. The fleet slowly crawled out into the estuary, with most opting to sail for the beach rather than struggle against the tide as the postponement flag was already displayed. The course board showed 1 3 1 2 3 LINE with all marks to port. As soon as a breath of wind arrived, the race team cracked on promptly and got racing under way.

Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) was first to Mark 1, with some very quick straight-line speed. Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) was not far behind. As the fleet rounded and headed downwind for the first time, locals John and Frankie Burn in their freshly refurbed Feeling Foolish design (with T-Foil) had already showed a lot of speed and excellent local Salcombe knowledge. However, with the fleet heading right to avoid the tide, there was a disagreement between Frankie (Son) and John (Dad) about the depth of the water. This meant they had to then sail with their T-Foil rudder up, losing a lot of speed. As we all know, when the crew says something, you should always pay attention, because in this case, it really was too shallow!

As the fleet approached Mark 3, having used the right-hand side of the estuary to avoid the tide, a clear pack had formed, with Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) now in 1st, followed by Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) in 2nd and Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm) in 3rd. David Copse (crewed by Rowan Copse) was just behind in 4th and were nipping at the leader's transoms. The top 4 then gained a lot of distance on the rest of the fleet, as the wind suddenly dropped, and the rest of the fleet were stuck almost within touching distance of Mark 3.

The start line

Ollie & Katie Meadowcroft lead the fleet off the start line

As the wind returned, the 2nd pack of N12s managed to beat back towards Mark 1 and start their 2nd lap. At this time, a fleet of Salcombe Yawls were in their start sequence and started just after George Finch (crewed by Lucy Finch) had crossed the line. Unfortunately, all those behind were trapped in the Yawl's dirty air and disturbed water, adding to the usual Salcombe excitement. Here, Mike Hoyle (crewed by Charlie Evans), who had crossed George and Lucy's bow moments before, received the raw end of the deal and on approaching Mark 1 had lost 4 places.

As the fleet headed back to Mark 3, the land breeze started to fight the apparent sea breeze, with Yawls beating towards the N12 fleet, who were also beating towards the Yawls! George and Lucy Finch were seen sailing past a RS400 whilst closed hauled, whilst the RS400 had kept its kite filled... they were just a few boat lengths apart. The direction change brought some exciting gusts, but never enough for the two groups to meet and Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) carried on, finishing 1st, followed by Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm) in 2nd and Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) in 3rd.

Race 2 - Sunday

The RS400s were a bit eager and had a General Recall so the N12s were the first fleet to get away. Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) tried very hard to push George Finch (crewed by Lucy Finch) over the line, but both got away with a clean start. With the windward mark being Mark 1, it paid to start on the left and keep that side. Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm) and Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) again showed excellent boat speed and obtained a good lead at Mark 1, with Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) and Mike Hoyle (crewed by Charlie Evans) following, having used the left side to get to Mark 1 at Blackstone. It became very close and there was a lot of tight manoeuvres with several gybes for all the fleet on first run. All the fleet were heading right to get out of tide, running close to beach but also trying to avoid the submerged buoys.

The leg through Southpool Creek towards Mark 4 was made in gentle breeze. There was a clear top group of 4 boats on the approach to Mark 3. Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm), Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith), Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) and Mike Hoyle (crewed by Charlie Evans) all looked to approach at the same time. Graham and Anya led round Mark 4.

Hugging the shore

Graham & Anya Camm in N3530 and Jon Ibbotson & Rachel Smith in N3540 running against the tide

The N12s behind the top 4 were able to make use of a lucky shift and didn't have to tack to sail out of Southpool Creek. Upwind towards Blackstone for the second time, Dan Meadowcroft (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) made good ground and were soon hot on the heels of George and Lucy Finch who had gone very right to the town side. Both held their speed downwind, although Dan and managed to catch up and briefly overtake on the turn into Southpool Creek. George and Lucy headed further left into a bit more breeze and could eventually pull away slightly.

At the front of the fleet and upwind towards the finish, Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) had the speed edge on Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm). However, Graham and Anya had previously made substantial progress downwind against the tide and held their lead. Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) finished 3rd.

The fleet then headed to the beaches in the sunshine to wait for the RS400s and Yawls to finish, although the wind was perhaps colder than anticipated.

Race 3 - Sunday

Again, the RS400s were very eager and had a general recall, so the N12s were off first with a clean start. The RO had kindly changed the course to 1 3 1 3 1 3 Line, so we didn't have to visit the light winds of Southpool Creek again.

Dan Meadowcroft (crewed by Zoe Ballantyne) started very well and rounded 3rd at the windward mark. Again, the fleet were very close and 'enjoyed' lots of gybes downwind, with the odd exclamation from the fishermen near South Sands. We are not too sure what they said but it probably is not repeatable here.

On approach to Mark 3, John Burn (crewed by Frankie Burn) kept on the right the longest. It paid off and they gained 3 places. David Copse (crewed by Rowan Copse) managed to slide just inside George Finch (crewed by Lucy Finch) at Mark 3. The leaders managed to gain a lot of distance but upwind with a bit more breeze, there was a close battle for 5th place. George and Lucy were able to pull ahead, just in time to round Mark 1. Tactics remained similar for the approach to Mark 3, although John and Frankie crossed earlier than before, which seemed to pay off.

As this section of the fleet were rounding Mark 3, the RS400s also joined the party and there were a number of boats parked at the mark. Thankfully the N12s let most of the madness pass, before rounding and heading back to Mark 1 at Blackstone for the final time.

After rounding Mark 1, Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) crossed the estuary and started their run up the town side. Graham and Anya Camm didn't. Both already had a 1st and 2nd under their belts, so this was a serious tactical move. Most of the rest of the fleet took Jon Ibbotson's lead, running up the town side.

Some of the RS400s also copied, although with their kites tried to carry a few of the N12s into the tide. David Copse (crewed by Rowan Copse) and George Finch (crewed by Lucy Finch) were neck and neck, until George and Lucy were taken into the tide by an energetic RS400. The jury is still deciding if David and Rowan had promised pasties, ice cream or Doombar to the RS400 carrying out this manoeuvre! Eventually the RS400s gained some distance and left the Copse and Finches to continue their course, side by side. Patrick Hamilton (crewed by Jenny Wilson) and Adam Thompson (crewed by Fiona Stevens) had a close battle, with Patrick and Jenny opting for the town side and Adam and Fiona keeping right.

Jon Ibbotson (crewed by Rachel Smith) and Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm) came back together, with neither gaining any distance from when they split. Graham and Anya went on to take the win, with Jon and Rachel in 2nd and Ollie Meadowcroft (crewed by Katy Meadowcroft) 3rd.

A close battle for 5th place took place between Mark 3 and the finish line, with George Finch (crewed by Lucy Finch) covering every move that David Copse (crewed by Rowan Copse) took. In remarkable consistency, George and Lucy prevailed and finished 5th, for the 3rd time in 3 races.

With Monday's forecast for heavy rain and gusts of more than 40kts, SYC had made the call to cancel Monday's race already, allowing the fleet to pack their boats up and then head to the Salcombe Yacht Club terrace for a Cream Tea, pint of tribute or G&T before the prize-giving.

Thanks to all at Salcombe Yacht Club who made the event happen, a long weekend away in Devon felt like a return to normality for the fleet, with the bonus of some sailing in the beautiful estuary.

Thanks also to Dinghy Shack for their sponsorship and prizes which in usual N12 fashion, were given out across the fleet. The National 12 Dinghy Shack Series continues on 12th and 13th June as part of the Plymouth Dinghy Regatta.

Photos © Margaret Mackley

More photos available on flickr here.



Overall results


Pos Boat Name Sail No Helm Name Crew Name Club R1 R2 R3 N12 Design Notes
1st Very Hungry Caterpillar 3530 Graham Camm Anya Camm Burghfield SC 2 1 1 Dead Cat Bounce 1st Junior Crew
2nd Atomic Kitten 3540 Jon Ibbotson Rachel Smith Burghfield Sailing Club 1 2 2 Dead Cat Bounce  
3rd Zippy 3431 Ollie Meadowcroft Katy Meadowcroft Upper Thames SC 3 3 3 Feeling Foolish (T‑Foil) 1st Junior Helm
4th Over The Rainbow 3551 George Finch Lucy Finch Royal Harwich Yacht Club 5 5 5 Dead Cat Bounce  
5th Lola 3537 Mike Hoyle Charlie Evans Salcombe Yacht Club 8 4 4 Dead Cat Bounce  
6th Ebba 3457 David Copse Rowan Copse Burghfield SC 4 7 6 Feeling Foolish 1st Non T‑Foil
7th Lars Porsena of Clusium 3471 Dan Meadowcroft Zoe Ballantyne Upper Thames SC 6 6 7 Final Chapter (T‑Foil)  
8th Un Poco Loco 3475 Patrick Hamilton Jenny Wilson Burwain Sailing Club 7 9 9 Feeling Foolish (T‑Foil)  
9th Monkey Business 3494 John Burn Frankie Burn Salcombe Yacht Club 9 8 8 Feeling Foolish (T‑Foil) 1st “1st Dinghy Shack Event”
10th  Feeling Frantic 3460  Adam Thompson Fiona Stevens Shoreham Sailing Club 10 10 10 Feeling Foolish