National 12s in Salcombe

Local knowledge pays at Open meeting

Tuesday October 22nd 2002, Author: John Murrell, Location: United Kingdom
A highly competitive fleet of fifteen National Twelves assembled at Salcombe on Saturday for their third visit of the year, showing what a popular venue it is with the class! Being the final event of the class’ South West series all was to play for, with Simon Hinks and Tim Laws vying for the title, and the minor places still up for grabs.

Saturday afternoon’s race was held in a light and shifty South-easterly with the tide just beginning to flood, and just to make things interesting Race Officer Geoff Gilson decided to start with the tide; by some miracle there were no boats over the line (did Geoff do a Nelson?) and the fleet got away to Gerston lead by Will and Arthur Henderson (N3418) with Nathan Harding and Tom Jeffries (N3429) chasing them hard, the rest of the pack were well bunched to Gerston, where John and Mandy Thornton put on a spurt to join the leaders.

Coming back into the Bag, Nathan decided that sailing on mud was quicker than water, only to find it isn’t! This allowed the Hendersons and Thorntons to make a Big Break and get to Blackstone well in front of the following boats to finish in that order. Antony and Jo Gifford (N3447) made it home in third just in front of a fast finishing Mark Phillips (N3281).

After an evening of typical Salcombe hospitality, Sunday morning’s weather came as a bit of a shock, even though the weather forecast warned it would happen! With the tide rapidly disappearing from Batson and the wind blowing straight up the channel, Race Officer Geof postponed to allow the boats a bit of extra time to negotiate the tricky exit. Thirteen boats braved the elements and with the wind blowing the top side of a force 5, set off towards Gerston.

First to fall by the wayside was Simon Hinks (N3396) when his mast exploded off Saltstone on a very fast and wet reach. He was soon followed by John & Katy Meadowcroft (N3473) who caught a rock off Tosnos Point and did irreparable damage to their centreboard. The Thorntons did a horizon job on their followers and Antony and Jo were enjoying a very fast and close race for second with the Hendersons. On the second time up to Gerston, John and Mandy had a small problem and stopped to fix it dropping them back down the order; however they didn’t get much further as they got a big slam off Lincombe and exit one mast and various bits of boat! Eventually six boats made it to the finish with Antony and Jo beating Will and Arthur on the line. Tim Laws and Mike Cooke (N3295) were third home.

With the wind increasing even further, only 4 boats ventured to the start of the third race. Laws and Cooke took an early lead followed closely by John Murrell and Sam Martin (N3444) and Harding and Jeffries. Through the Bag these three boats stayed close together, however Murrell got a big gust off Saltstone and opened up a tidy lead by the time they got to Gerston, Laws followed round in second and Harding third. The two leaders swapped places on a tight fetch through the Bag and Murrell had taken the lead when they rounded Snapes Point. But both were caught by an extra vicious squall, Laws mast going over the bows and Murrell pitch poling to the bottom of the Estuary! This allowed Harding and David Moore (N3397) through to finish in that order with Murrell getting going again in third.

1st Will & Arthur Henderson Salcombe YC
2nd Antony & Jo Gifford Aldeburgh YC
3rd David Moore and Andrew Salcombe YC
4th Nathan Harding & Tom Jeffries Saltash SC
5th John Murrell & Sam Martin Salcombe YC
6th Tim Laws & Mike Cooke Oulton Mere SC

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