Team Racing and Guy Fawkes

Lawrence Hugh Jones' report on the National 12's at Middle Nene Sailing Club

Wednesday November 6th 2002, Author: Andy Nicholson, Location: United Kingdom
Each November, National Twelve sailors are drawn like bees to nectar to Middle Nene Sailing Club for the traditional Guy Fawkes meeting which marks the end of both the Midland Area travellers series and the Consistency series. The meeting this year was held on Saturday and Sunday November 2nd and 3rd with team racing on the Saturday and the Open Meeting on the Sunday

Team racing, Sat November 2nd

In spite of the forecast of gales, the team racing on Saturday was held in very light airs. Five 2-boat teams entered, and drifted down to the start line in bright sunshine and a light breeze from the SSW for an 11 a.m. start. A round-robin series of ten short 1-lap races were sailed as the cloud front veiled the sun and the wind backed to the SE, dying again when the rain front arrived at about 1.00 p.m. The breeze then reappeared from the SE for the final few races as the downpour increased in intensity.
Bedraggled crews arrived back onshore at about 3.00 p.m. having been on the water for 5 hours. Pasties and hot soup or stronger beverages provided a welcome in the warm dry clubhouse.

In defiance of the weather, the team racing proved very close with some hard fought battles between the top teams. The first few races produced clear wins for the favourites, but from the 5th race the finishes were tighter, and by the 9th race the Burghfield S.C. team (Graham Camm with Allie Martin and Caroline Martin crewed by Lesley Isles) had completed all their races with 6 wins. The Wight Rascals (John and Katy Meadowcroft, and Tom Stewart with Liz Ross), and the Aldeburgh team (Frances Gifford with Jane Jones, and Antony Gifford with Jess Brown), both had 5 wins with one race to go. Their confrontation in the 10th race resulted in a win for the Wight Rascals, giving them a tie with Burghfield. In a closely fought sail-off in gathering gloom and pouring rain, the honours went to the Wight Rascals.
Boat Club Helm Crew Position
N 3414
N 3476 Wight Rascals John Meadowcroft
Tom Stewart Katy Meadowcroft
Liz Ross 1
N 469
N 3455 Burgfield S.C. Graham Camm
Caroline Martin Zoe Ballantyne
Lesley Ises 2

The evening bonfire was somewhat dampened by the persistent downpour, but spectators were able to enjoy the fireworks from the club veranda while Pat Elcombe and his team fired splendid fireworks to windward from the dock and dodged the returning hail of sparks and spent rocket sticks..

Open Meeting for the Guy Fawkes Trophy, Sunday November 3rd 2002.

In complete contrast to the Saturday, the weather for the Open racing on Sunday brought bright sunshine and a brisk (Force 3-4) SW wind which provided ideal conditions for the fleet of 22 boats. Visitors came from 14 different clubs from as far afield as Tynemouth, Bristol and Chipstead. Nine of the visitors were visiting MNSC for the first time. There were four entries from the home club.

The blustery conditions produced some fast planing and a clutch of muddy weed-draped burgees, while the rescue boats hovered hoping for victims. The sadistic race committee dictated a short multi-lap course with two gybes on every circuit which provided entertainment for the spectators.

In the first race Patrick Elcombe (N3442) made a clean start at the outer pin on port tack and cleared the fleet to lead for most of the race before being caught by Tom Stewart (N3476) who surged past on a magnificent plane to one of the gybe marks and led to the end. Elcombe was closely followed home by Graham Camm (N3469) with Steve Lightfoot (N3402) 4th and John & Katy Meadowcroft (N 3414) 5th.

A similar attempt at a port tack start in the second race saw Elcombe over the line, but after gybing round the pin and crossing behind the fleet on port he emerged at the windward mark in 3rd place behind Tom Stewart and Graham Camm. These two continued to increase their lead in a dramatic fashion, leaving Elcombe to fight a rearguard action against the pursuing fleet. Nemesis came when he ran into weed and was passed by Steve Lightfoot and Frances Gifford (N3431). The Meadowcrofts came home 6th.

Tom Stewart, having secured the trophy, elected to stay ashore after the lunch break but with not all the places decided, the fleet assembled in a lighter breeze for the final race.

Graham Camm quickly established a commanding lead ahead of the Meadowcrofts and Pat Elcombe, with Frances Gifford and Steve Lightfoot chasing. Frances Gifford was sailing very fast and passed the Meadowcrofts and Elcombe and closed the gap on Camm, although she could not catch him. Elcombe and Lightfoot both went the wrong side up one beat and lost out to the Meadowcrofts and also were passed by Ellie and Allie Martin (making a guest appearance in their mother's boat) in N 3455.

This race confirmed Graham Camm in 2nd place overall, brought Frances Gifford up to 3rd, pushed Elcome down to 4th and Steve Lightfoot to 5th with John and Katy Meadowcroft 6th.

For the first time in many years there were no vintage Twelves on the water and the 'Old Boats Trophy', an elegantly mounted ancient Avon self bailer, went to the Meadowcrofts
As in the 2001 races, weed proved a problem for most crews. Although weed had been cut from the racing area, loose strands collected on bows, centreplates and rudders and necessitated periodic stops to clear it. Sailing with half plate and raised rudder has become a regular feature for MNSC sailors this year in spite of strenuous efforts to cut and clear the weed. This has become an increasing problem in many inland clubs as industrial pollution decreases and nitrogen and phosphorus-rich domestic and farm effluents provide bonus nutrients. Bring back the tanneries and electroplating works!

Once competitors had packed their boats, the prizes were presented by MNSC Commodore David Brown, Graham Camm announced the final placings in the N12s Travellers Competition for 2002 and Nick Gill gave the welcome news that Gill will be sponsoring the 2003 Travellers trophy and Tom Stewart gave the traditional vote of thanks to the host club.

Position Boat No. Helm Crew Club
1 3476 Tom Stewart Liz Ross Royal Harwich
2 3469 Graham Camm Zoe Ballantyne Burghfield
3 3431 Frances Gifford Jane Jones Aleburgh
4 3442 Patrick Elcombe Carol Shore MNSC
5 3402 Steve Lightfoot Sarah Eastmond MNSC
6 3414 John Meadowcroft Katy Meadowcroft Henley/MNSC

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