Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy, the North's most pretigious race, took place 2nd July to the 3rd July at Ullswater Yacht Club.
After last year’s Sunday race was cancelled because of gale force winds, this year the event suffered from the opposite - a lack of wind. Two races were held and consistency was the key to success with the top four boats overall gaining single-figure placings on both days despite the testing windless conditions.
Overall winners were RS400 sailors Wayne and Deb Fletcher of Scaling Dam SC with a win on Saturday and a third place on Sunday. Second were Hamish and Rachel Gledhill of West Riding SC, also in an RS 400, with a fourth and a second and another RS 400 sailed by Dave Exley and Nigel Hall was third after winning the Sunday race and coming sixth on Saturday.
Top marks for endurance went to two of the two slowest handicapped boats to enter. Fifth placed young Topper sailor Nick Devereux of Budworth SC stuck it out and completed both races to gain a 15th and an eighth. Open Canoe sailor Keith Morris, (handicap 1300), of the Open Canoe Sailing Group was 16th and 9th and came sixth overall.
Every year the race along the full length of Ullswater and back on both days attracts keen sailors from national champions to novices from all over the country in a huge range of different boats.
On Saturday, with brilliant sunshine but a distinct lack of wind, race officer Jim Wilson decided not to send the 167-strong fleet to the to the other end of the nine mile lake but to place a turning mark along the second leg.
The start line was set right across the three quarter mile wide lake and the fleet got away, under threat of the black flag, at the second attempt.
First back to the finishing line was the 49er of six-times Birkett winners Lester and Lee Noble of UYC in a 49er. But the first RS 400 sailed by Wayne and Deb Fletcher was close enough on time to win on handicap. Mike and Paul Adams of UYC in a Tempest were third.
Sunday brought more sunshine, but no more wind. This time the course was set to the island, the full length of the lake and the fleet got away prepared for a ‘marathon’ sail.
More than 30 boats decided to call it a day and retire early but those who persevered made it round Norfolk Island with plenty of time to look at the scenery surrounding Cumbria’s most beautiful lake.
The course was shortened on the way back and first on handicap were Dave Exley and Nigel Hall in an RS 400. But it was the third place by the Fletchers that gained them the coveted trophy.
The unique race was established in 1963 to commemorate the successful defence by Lord Birkett of the right of public access to Ullswater which was threatened with reservoir status in the early 1960s.
The club would like to thank all the many volunteers who worked hard to make the weekend a success and organisers are already making plans for ‘The Special One’ the 50th Birkett in 2012. Overall results
1. Wayne and Deb Fletcher, RS 400, Scaling Dam SC, four points .
2. Hamish and Rachel Gledhill, RS 400, West Riding SC, six.
3. Dave Exley and Nigel Hall, RS 400, Leigh and Lowton SC, seven.
4. R Critchley and S Woods, Enterprise, Pilkington SC, 12.
5. Nick Devereux, Topper, Budworth SC, 23.
6. Keith Morris, Open Canoe, OCSG, 25.
7. Louise McKeand and Cathy Partington, RS 200, Leigh and Lowton SC, 29.
8. Lester and Lee Noble, 49er, UYC, 31.
9. Richard Stenhouse, Musto Skiff, RWYC, 31.
10. Martin and Barbara Smith, RS 200, Delph SC, 32. Fleets
RS 400: Wayne and Deb Fletcher (First)
RS 200: Louise McKeand and Cathy Partington (Seventh)
49er: Lester and Lee Noble (Eighth)
Musto Skiff: Richard Stenhouse (Ninth)
Laser: Ant Dawson (14th)
Tempest: Mike and Paul Adams (17th)
Cruiser: Robin Stanley, Marion Marshall and Julie Archer, Monark (23rd)
Flying Fifteen, Mike Thompson and crew, Chew Valley SC (37th)
RS 800: Ed and Richard Whiteley, Parkstone/Ripon SC (65th)
Ullswater Yacht Club website