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Latest Chapter
Welcome to The Latest Chapter! This issue is a champs special with all the news from Burton Week at Herne Bay and the Scottish Championships at Solway. We also look ahead to the final two events of the GUL Series and other remaining open meetings this season.
In this issue:
Burton Week 2015 at Herne Bay

Burton Week 2015

Herne Bay Sailing Club was the perfect champs venue with the sailing area just off the club, (cosy) camping just out the back of the clubhouse and great facilities. There was even table football in the clubhouse. We also enjoyed some of the hottest weather of the summer. Well done to everyone involved in organising the event both at the club and in the NTOA!

Read on for the full story...

One of the best sailing days of the year with wall to wall sunshine, temperatures in the thirties and fleet desperate to go afloat to cool down. What a great start to this year's championships.

Two races were sailed back to back, the fleet got away cleanly in race 1. Antony and Jo Gifford making a welcome return to championship sailing, took the right hand shift from the committee boat and led from start to finish, followed home by Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart and in third, 2014 national champion, Tom Stewart crewed by Andrea Downham.

Further down the fleet, preview writer John Meadowcroft had to lower his mainsail half way up the second beat to resolve an extreme mainsheet tangle. Dave Peacock, sailing his vintage China Doll, was highly competitive against much newer boats.

After a quick turn around (the committee boat being very small, the race officer and his team probably don't want to spend too much time in it), race 2 got underway. Five boats went back at the start thinking that they were over the line, with just one of those boats actually having been over.

John 'guns out' Meadowcroft, crewed by son Ollie burnt up the first beat to lead round the windward mark, closely followed by Steve Sallis crewed by Katy Meadowcroft. Steve Sallis shot into the lead downwind but after 2 laps decided it was time to finish and headed for the line, while the rest of the fleet headed up the last beat. Despite a valiant catch up attempt, Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne took advantage to take the win with Steve and Katy hanging on to second and Tom and Andrea in third.

First spectacular swim of the week was from Jeremy and Luke Hartley, sailing 'Dead Cat Bounce', with a superb transom stand at the wing mark, whilst in second place. They recovered well to finish in 7th place.

The Herne Bay slipway team get full marks for a very efficient effort in getting the fleet ashore in super quick time.

Day 2 dawned with blue skies, white horses and some decisions on what to wear. By the time the decisions were made, the white horses had disappeared and decisions were revised.

The fleet headed out on schedule but had to wait some time on the water for the wind to settle and swing round to the south. When we started, the fleet got away cleanly with Jon Ibbotson and Charlotte Stewart leading round the windward mark with Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne and Tom Stewart and Andrea Downham hot on their heels. Jon and Charlotte held their lead to the gybe mark, only to be overtaken by the end of the second reach.

Graham and Zoe led to the finish, completing the Burton Cup, which consists of a 4 laps of a triangle course, with each leg at least one mile long, in 2 hours and 50 minutes. Tom and Andrea finished second with Jeremy and Luke Hartley closing in on them to finish 3rd, ahead of Jon and Charlotte. The most closely fought battle of the race took was decided by an intense tacking battle on the short beat to the finish between the Thorntons, Giffords and Meadowcrofts. John and Mandy Thornton squeezed through into 5th followed by John and Olly Meadowcroft then Anthony and Jo Gifford. The first non-foiler to cross the line, in 9th place, was sailed by Nigel and Chris White.

The race officer sorted out a quick turnaround to set off a second shorter race once the Burton Cup was complete. The fleet were keen, and with the tide pushing them on to the committee boat, some pulled the trigger early in a bid to stay clear, resulting in a general recall. The race officer opted to start under a penalty flag, and the fleet got away cleanly. Steve Sallis and Katie Meadowcroft lead round the windward mark, followed by Tom and Andrea, then Zoe and Graham, who worked low to creep up to second place by the leeward mark. The next beat saw the top 3 boats changing places, but Steve and Katie made it to the top mark first. With increased wind, Andrea and Tom enjoyed the reach to round the gybe mark in first and hold this position to the line. Steve and Katie crossed in 2nd, with Graham and Zoe just inches behind.

The fleet were welcomed home with sunshine and Pimms on the shore, a very welcome sight after a long day on the water!

The competitors were welcomed to Herne Bay on the morning of day 3 by torrential rain. Damp but not discouraged, the race team set out to sea and with a bit of encouragement, the fleet followed.

Once on the water, it was apparent that a cracking race was in the offing.

Nick Copsey, crewed by the lovely Penny Yarwood, nailed the start and came out of the left to lead at the top mark just ahead gaggle of DCBs and the Meadowcrofts in their Hi-Jack design. By the leeward mark, the Meadowcrofts had skilfully worked through to second with Tom Stewart and Andrea Downham hot on their transom. Nick and Penny sailed a masterful second beat to hold their narrow lead. On the run, the heavens opened and the breeze arrived, unfortunately the visibility went, leading the race team to shorten at the leeward mark. Nick and Penny got their well-deserved first championship win.

Paul Turner and Christine Preston arrived at the last windward mark in the teeth of a gale. Paul showed his solid seaman's skills and dropped the main and sailed the run under jib alone, appearing to the waiting fleet as a spectre out of a squall! The first time this has  been seen in a 12 race since 1985.

After waiting for the visibility to return and the wind to settle, the second race of the day was started.

A large right shift on the first beat saw the championship leaders, Graham and Zoe Camm lead at the top mark followed by their closest rivals, Tom Stewart and Andrea Downham. The second reach was tight and the wind dying, much to the delight of the lighter teams. Jeremy Hartley and Luke were on a roll and came up to Tom and Andrea's stern. With the wind swinging and dying, the next beat looked to be a starboard fetch but with random very hard rain showers and huge holes, anything was possible. The Camms and Hartleys sailed serenely through, whilst others chased patches of wind only to discover they were yet more rain. The wind swung hard to the left and the run became a reach to the finish. The victory has put the Camms in the boss seat for a last day showdown.

The most dramatic event of the day was a whirlwind that twisted its way through the fleet as they drifted towards the shore. Dave Peacock who saw it coming, was halfway through dropping his mainsail and had to turn through 360 degrees to stay head to wind and which ended badly with a capsize and a tow home.

On the final day of the Gul sponsored National 12 Championships, the crews were greeted with sunshine and strong breezes. Luckily it was blowing from the south west so the waves were not too big for the rather small committee boat. The fleet launched on time for the final showdown.

The wind shifted left in the start sequence and for the first time in the regatta, the competitors had to deal with a biased start line which did cause some problems at the pin end, resulting in the very lovely Penny Yarwood hitting the eject button. Jon Ibbotson & Charlotte Stewart squeezed around the pin to make the early running and escape from the chaos behind.

However, Steve Sallis and Katy Meadowcroft went hard left and were well clear of the pack by the windward mark. The first reach was an exhilarating ride, Tom Stewart & Andrea Downham powered over Jeremy and Luke Hartley to get to the jybe mark in second. Steve & Katy took the safe option of wearing round, with the chasing pack all going for the jybe.

The much broader second reach enabled Graham Camm & Zoe Ballantine to blast through the fleet to leeward to sail into a potential championship winning position by the bottom mark. On the subsequent beat, Tom & Andrea played the shifts up the middle to lead round the windward mark, followed by John & Ollie Meadowcroft who had sailed a blinding second beat.

With the conditions deteriorating, the race team shortened the course at the end of the run. Tom & Andrea finished first, followed home by the Meadowcrofts in second. Steve & Katy looked solid in third but hit disaster when they went for the jybe on the run and capsized, which turned out to be a long one and destroyed their hopes of taking third overall. Luckily for Tom & Andrea, Jon Ibbotson & Charlotte Stewart sailed a steady run and wore round to cross the line in third, just ahead of Graham and Zoe giving Tom & Andrea the victory by 1 point.

Notable performances at the championships included:

Dave Peacock and Gill Bilton impressively won both the Admirals and Vintage trophies, sailing in Dave's recently restored 43 year old China Doll.

Steve Carver from Stokes Bay won both the Corrigan Cup (helms aged 21 and under) and the Arrows Trophy (first time helm at Burton Week)

Tom Lee deserves a special mention racing his homebuilt Dead Cat Bounce at Burton Week for the first time. Tom was awarded the Decanter Trophy for this incredible project.

Scottish Champs at Solway

If Herne Bay is a perfect champs venue, is Solway Yacht Club the perfect 12 venue? Situated on the estuary at the beautiful Kippford (just into Scotland and turn left), it has a winning combination for 12s of well run championship racing out in the bay and river racing up to Palnackie like Trent Valley on sea. To top it all it has 12 sailors Ian and Margaret Purkis who generously put on a party for 12 sailors and club members. If you weren't there this year then don't miss your next chance!

Here's the full write up...

Solway Yacht Club, located in the beautiful and picturesque village of Kippford on the northerly coast of the Solway Firth hosted the 2015 National 12 Scottish Championships on the 12th and 13th September. This was the most northerly round of the Gul sponsored national travellers series.

A dreadful forecast of gale force winds and torrential rain contributed to a much depleted entry compared to previous years when this event has been very popular and well supported. With the weather every bit as bad as forecast, PRO Chris Nurney took the inspired decision to reverse the race schedule, making the up-river race to Palnackie and back Race 1 which gave slightly more sheltered conditions, and saving the offshore racing for the next day when the forecast was more hopeful.

Given the conditions it was still quite a surprise to see five boats launch for Race 1. With a short upwind leg from the start out to a windward mark, the fleet were led round by Chris and Sophie Day in N3526 (Dead Cat Bounce design), followed by Ian & Margaret Purkis in N3384 (Final Chapter design), with the other three starters following in close company. The fleet then turned up-river onto a dead run through the moored yachts and then on up river to Palnackie. Chris and Sophie quickly established a good lead whilst behind them the other four boats were in survival mode; pitching and rolling their way round the twists and turns, over the shallows, between fierce gusts and lulls often in pouring rain. Angus Beyts and his SYC Cadet crew Stevie Gaston were rolling wildly in N3199 (Trouble Shooter design) and trouble wasn't going to be far away. However it was the Williams brothers, Rhys and Huw in N1620 (Proctor Mark 6 design) that came to grief, gybing violently and being pitched into the drink and retirement. This left Angus and Stevie in close company with Scott Train and Anne Stewart sailing N1483 (Proctor Mark 4A design). Up at Palnackie with several astonished onlookers ashore, Chris and Sophie rounded safely to commence the beat back down river while Ian & Margaret unfortunately touched the rounding mark. Penalty turns followed with the tide carrying them back towards the mark and now with the chasing pair on their transom, it took some frantic short tacking across the narrow river to re-establish their second place. Back down the river, Scott & Anne eventually broke clear of Angus and Stevie to bring the 4A home in a very creditable third, ahead of the recovering Trouble Shooter.

On Saturday evening Ian and Margaret hosted a wonderful social event at their house with plenty of excellent food and drink on tap to keep everyone fed and watered whilst Angus provided the entertainment for all with his stories and humour.

Sunday morning dawned with a few hangovers and the weather did nothing to lift the spirits. Despite a better forecast the fleet were met with torrential rain and a stiff southerly breeze blowing directly up the estuary that was bringing a nice swell in on the tide. The crews milled about uncomfortably and with some trepidation before eventually launching right at the last minute. Four boats eventually elected to go afloat to take on the first challenge of the long beat out to the race area against the incoming tide, the second challenge being to survive the large Olympic course set out in the estuary!

Race 2 commenced in probably the strongest wind of the weekend and once again Chris and Sophie dominated, leading at the windward mark by a good margin from Ed Willett and Ian Murgatroyd (who hadn't been able to sail on the Saturday) in N3274 a Crusader 88 design. They were followed by Ian and Margaret and on the superb first reach where the boats could surf at high speed on the breaking rollers Ian and Margaret surfed past Ed and Ian to take the lead at the gybe mark which they survived and then went on to extend their lead on the next reach. However whilst Chris and Sophie were sailing a lonely race up front the race for second wasn't yet over. Ed and Ian sailed a cracking second beat to recover their lost ground and rounded the windward mark just ahead of Ian and Margaret and then managed to stay ahead on the hair raising downwind sausage leg. On the final beat Ed and Ian put a tight cover on Ian and Margaret and they finished in that order. Behind them Angus and Stevie eventually finished after recovering from a capsize.

Race 3 commenced immediately after Race 2 and whilst the wind was starting to decline the first triangle still allowed for superb surfing on the offwind legs. The wind eventually dropped right away and became quite fickle at the windward mark. The race was somewhat of a procession with Chris and Sophie again leading from start to finish. Ed and Ian were a comfortable second ahead of Ian and Margaret and Angus and Stevie.

Race 4 was abandoned as it appeared that the wind was not going to be strong enough to allow the fleet to complete the large course in the remaining time before the tide dictated an end to sailing. However as the marks were collected and the fleet headed for home the wind picked up dramatically and it was a long goose winged plane for home back up river which caused Angus and Stevie to succumb to their second capsize of the day.

With no discards to apply to the abbreviated series of races the overall was decided on the basis of all three race results.

Overall a very enjoyable weekend of sailing that lead to some very tired bodies on Monday morning! The National 12 Class would like to thank Solway YC for hosting an excellent event. Despite the challenging conditions the OOD Chris Nurney and his team expertly managed the back to back races. Special thanks also to all those on the water manning the rescue boats and, thanks to the Catering staff who laid on soup and rolls. We hope more will join us next year.

Generous prizes courtesy of the Event series sponsor Gul, were presented by Solway YC's Commodore Jim Holland. Special Gul Merit prizes were awarded to Angus Beyts and Stevie Gaston and Huw and Rhys Williams. Chris and Sophie won the overall and the beautiful Scottish Daily Express trophy. Ian and Margaret won the AC boat category and the Mariner Mug and Scott and Anne won the Vintage category.

Upcoming Events

Next up for the GUL Series is the popular one day event at Ripon SC on 3rd October. This is always a great event with competitive racing for vintage boats, Dead Cat Bounces and everything in between. Why not make a weekend of it an visit nearby Yeadon SC on the Sunday too? Find out more about the Ripon meeting and who's going here.

Looking a bit further ahead the GUL Series finale and Inland Championships at Northampton SC is one not to miss. Make sure you've booked the weekend of 7th and 8th November in your calendar!

Before then there's lots of 12 sailing across the country. If you're anywhere near the south west then don't miss the final chance to sail at Salcombe YC this year over the weekend of 17-18th October. The regatta week in the summer was popular as ever with 12 sailors. Some of them took the wrong boat, but still had a successful week. Peter Ballentine dominated the Solos and Charlie Blazebly won the Laser Radials and was overall regatta champion and Will Henderson won in the Yawls. You can find the full write up for all fleets here. Meanwhile in the 12s, Robbie Stewart crossed the finish line first the most times to win the week, with dad Tom in the back of the boat. Mum Charlotte's team won the beach rounders and everyone who played water balloon volleyball was a winner!

On 24th October the Olton Mere open meeting now includes the final round of the 4 Plank series as well as being on the Midland Area, and on 25th October the Northern series finishes up at Tynemouth SC (sailing up the river at Newburn).

Finally Twickenham Yacht Club have a growing 12 fleet and welcome visitors to their picturesque stretch of the Thames on 4th October. This will be the final event of the Thames series. Details and the event poster can be found on the 12 website.

Dates for your diary

  • Ripon SC 3rd October - GUL Series #7
  • Yeadon SC 4th October
  • Twickenham YC 4th October
  • Salcombe YC 17-18th October
  • Olton Mere SC 24th October
  • Tynemouth SC (Newburn) 25th October
  • Northampton SC 7-8th November - GUL Series Finale and Inland Championships

A full list of fixtures for 2015 can be found on the N12 website.

Welcome to New Members

Finally, we'd like to give a warm welcome to all the recent new members of the NTOA. We hope you enjoy your 12 sailing as much as we do.

Gavin Gulliver-Goodall of Broseley, Shropshire with N2966

Peter Horne of Didcot, Oxfordshire with N3459

Henry Jones of Marshfield, Chippenham with N2946

Robert Austin of Bletchley, Buckinghamshire with N2881

I hope you enjoyed The Latest Chapter and hope to see you on the water between now and the end of the season. 

Chris Day

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