Awful weather but great parties

Sailors at the British Dragon Association East Coast Championship only managed two races over the bank holiday weekend

Friday May 30th 2008, Author: Fiona Brown, Location: United Kingdom
Despite extreme weather conditions, the bank holiday weekend of 24-26 May saw seventeen International Dragons gathered at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club in Lowestoft for the British Dragon Association East Coast Championship 2008. Sadly bad weather meant insufficient races could be run to qualify for the Championship but despite this a great time was had by all. Event Coordinator Peter Stokes brings us the following report from the regatta:

The long range forecast from two weeks before the regatta promised warm sunny weather and medium winds, but that had all happened by Friday, and the first day of sailing on Saturday gave us a warning of what was to follow. In the event we had a fantastic exciting days' sailing, which everyone, with the exception of a few who had 'incidents', said they really enjoyed.

Len Jones with Rumours showed what now seems to be his 'normal' boat speed and, with crew Jamie Lea and Henry Bagnel, took both races for minimum points, whilst the newest boat in the event Biff took Tim Tavinor with Thomas and Nicola Wilton, to a close second place overall. Rob Campbell, after a frantic effort to get Quicksilver III rigged and ready for racing on Saturday morning, improved on a first race fifth to take second in the next to a very creditable third overall, crewed by Matt Walker and Jonathan Hughes.

On the 'incident front', James Mehew and Comanche got tabbed by a big wave on the run during the second race, which surprised a few, but span him into a 'Chinese gybe' and left him and crew Richard Bailey a little worse for wear, and retired from the regatta. Norman Blowers with Mystere and Mike Holmes' Hand of Fortune also suffered small, but race ending breakages.

As we finished the day the wind was getting colder, the sky greyer, and the wind stronger, and that, as they say, was that!

Sunday dawned grey, not yet wet, but with an average wind of 19 knots showing on the clubs weather station. PRO Ben Falat and wife Veronica tried hard to find a way we could compete, and with Ian Gray on board, as the class 'weather scrutineer' ventured out to sea to check whether there was a race to be had. The announcement that racing was 'on' when they returned saw a few nervous glances amongst competitors, and some then started voting with their feet. In the meantime the average wind speed was continuing to increase, and gusting at over 30 knots - so a 'straw poll' of owners gave Ben 'ammunition' to reverse the earlier decision, and, as the wind was forecast to increase in strength, and with audible sighs of relief all round, racing was abandoned for the day - a correct decision which then allowed everyone to plan for the rest of the day, and enjoy what the club [snooker, TV room, bar and excellent restaurant] and the area has to offer, and to prepare for the evenings 'entertainment'.

Monday was even worse, and three to four meter breaking seas off the harbour, combined with an average wind speed of 24 knots and gusts to 35 knots meant that racing had to be abandoned for the day, and the Championship was therefore unfortunately lost.

Socially we all had a great time. The Lowestoft Fleet owners, Adnams [the beer] and Peter Colby [the wine] sponsored and supported a Saturday night party, and new owner Fergal O'Driscoll and partner Julie bravely lent their beachfront home as the venue.

The event dinner on Sunday, which followed a cocktail party given by the Lowestoft fleet owners, had as our Class guests the RNSYC Commodore Roger Knights, and Tim Adjaman [representing local company John Grose Group who sponsored the dinner wine], with their respective partners. What has become a traditional RNSYC event favourite, beef roast with Yorkshire, was expertly carved by Lowestoft class members, and all had a great night, with Peter Stokes giving a speech on behalf of the Lowestoft fleet, also thanking all those who had helped him and wife Helen in making this such a memorable event - socially if not for the racing! Owen Pay stood up and responded, to calls of "stand up!" followed by the loyal toast proposed by our Commodore.

We had planned for novelty race and raffle prizes, in addition to race prizes each day, but with only two races we managed only to deplete the stock of daily raffle prizes. The novelty race prizes were kindly donated by North Sails, and RNSYC Admiral, Norman Blowers, with his crew, won a novelty prize for 'Admirable' Normans attempt to 'walk on water' after being thrown out of his cockpit by one fairly big wave, and Ian Gray and his crew won for being the lightest crew, yet still managing a fourth in the first race. The champagne raffle prize on the first day went to Nick Faulkner, and on Sunday to Gavia. At the dinner on Sunday Tim Tavinor drew the raffle for the event 'Star Prize', a spinnaker, generously donated by his company Petticrows, and which went to Mark and Mandy Wade.

Thanks to a very efficient effort by our club manager David Schonhut and his team, the boat 'lift out' was very efficient, and all the visitors were on their trailers within an hour of starting, allowing us an early prize giving, and most on the road home by lunchtime.

At prize giving the Aldeburgh Yacht Club and Royal Norfolk and Sussex YC Trophies went to Len Jones, and the trophy for best performance from a Lowestoft boat went to Chris Dicker, Selina Dicker and Jonathan Webster. Engraved glass keeper prizes were presented for the overall results, and everyone, competitors and helpers alike went away with at least an engraved glass tumbler as a memento.

Finally these events do not come happen without considerable financial sponsorship, and we are once again indebted to Aberdeen Asset Management for their invaluable support, and to aerospace company STG Aerospace, and top Norfolk based marketing consultants Barker Johnson Peal, for their race day sponsorship.


Pos Helm Crew Boat Name Club R1 R2 Tot
1 Len Jones J Lea / H Bagnel Rumours MYC 1 1 2
2 Tim Tavinor Nicola Wilton / Thomas Wilton Biff RCYC 2 3 5
3 Robert Campbell Matt Walker / Jonathan Hughes Quicksilver iii RCYC 5 2 7
4 Gavia Wilkinson Cox D Grindley / J Hayes Jerboa RCYC 3 6 9
5 Patrick Gifford Michael Gifford / Matthew Lingley Nereid AYC 6 4 10
6 Ian Gray Keith Gray/Rene Nel Scorpio RCYC 4 7 11
7 M Makey J Noonan/R Elphinstone Ganador RCYC 9 5 14
8 Stewart Coltart Catriona Coltart / Hilary Gallo Valkyrie Medway SC 8 8 16
9 Owen Pay Tim Squire Sanders / Dave Ross Njord Island sailing Club 7 11 18
10 Christopher Dicker Jonathon Webster / Selina Dicker Kuling RNYSC 11 9 20
11 Mark Wade Amanda Wade/John Davies Avalanche RCYC 10 10 20
12 P Stokes H Stokes/ Nick Stokes/Tori Stokes Gitane RNSYC 13 12 25
13 James Mehew Richard Bailey Commache Katie Bailey 12 18 30
14 Peter Pank Nick Faulkner/Tony Hvams Merlin RNSYC 14 17 31
15= Fergal o Driscoll P Reynolds/Dr R Mann Blue Flame RNSYC 18 17 35
15= Norman Blowers D Pryce/C Merren Mystere RNSYC 18 17 35
15= M Holmes A Burnett/G Butcher Hand of Fortune RCYC 18 17 35

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