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National 12 End of Winter Championship at Royal Harwich Yacht Club

by George Finch 22 Mar 03:20 PDT 20 March 2022
National 12 'End of Winter' Championship © Pavel Krica

A few decades ago, several the Royal Harwich Yacht Club N12 fleet decided to meet up during the winter months for a formal dinner in the clubhouse. During the dinner they realised if the fleet were meeting up, why not bring their boats too. So, the next year, the RHYC N12 Mid-Winter Championships was born.

The event was revived in February 2020 due to increasing numbers of N12s at the RHYC. 2021's edition, due for February was inevitably cancelled however the 2022 edition was held at the RHYC this weekend.

A pleasant dinner for past, present, and future N12 sailors was held on Saturday evening at RHYC. With the wind forecast for Sunday gradually decreasing all week and an increasing promise of sun, the 'End of Winter' Championships lived up to its name, it certainly felt like spring!

Chris Brown, the PRO for the day, led the briefing on the club's lawn, the key takeaway being that the RHYC were also hosting a Topper open, (who used the same starting flag as the 12s), an Oppie training day, an instructor course and normal club racing. Thankfully the Toppers had their own race committee, so there was no T flag confusion!

With a gentle easterly breeze, the fleet launched and headed just downriver of the RHYC. It quickly became apparent that the wind would be quite shifty and before the start it was possible to get your compass reading the same number on both tacks upwind!

Race 1 - Windward/Leeward

A flooding tide kept the fleet behind the start line. The best option was a quick tack onto port, which worked well for those at the committee boat end. Tom Stewart (crewed by Isobel Stewart) in N3544 led at the windward mark, followed by Graham Camm (crewed by Anya Camm) in N3530 and George Finch (crewed by Toby Hunt) in N3551. There was no room for error here and Chris Mayhew (crewed by Nicole Mayhew) in N3437 took full advantage of anyone whose mark rounding and bare-away was not smooth! With the tide running towards the leeward mark, the fleet quickly bunched up on the approach, again leaving no room for sloppy boat handling. Clean air was a must, as the beat to the line into the tide began. The wind became noticeably lighter during the 2nd lap, with the strong spring tide continuing to flood.

Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) took the win, followed by Chris & Nicole Mayhew (N3437) in 2nd and Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) in 3rd.

Race 2 - Triangle

A new windward mark was set and the fleet, again well behaved, set off for Race 2. Again, starting near the committee boat, or at least in clean air, paid off and Jon Brown (crewed by Maya Brown) in N3483 sailed fast to the windward mark, rounding 2nd. Ian Gore (crewed by Alex Gore) in N3525 were first. As with Race 1, George Finch (crewed by Toby Hunt) in N3551 rounded 3rd. The next leg was a reach across to RHYC's 'Berners' racing mark (a narrow post). With the spring sun shining brightly, it was difficult to locate the mark. The wind became very light at times, although the front 3 boats managed to keep ahead for the gybe round 'Berners'. Sailing tighter on the 3rd leg, with more tide running, paid off, although occasional gusts began to put pressure on those at the front.

As the beat into the 2nd lap began, so did the game of snakes and ladders. Ian & Alex Gore (N3525) who were leading went left and were becalmed. Jon & Maya Brown (N3483) kept right to cross Ian & Alex, as did George Finch & Toby Hunt (N3551). Chris & Nicole Mayhew (N3437), Adam Fuller & Saffron Hill (N3467) and David & Sarah Conlon (N3538) all looked set to gain on the 2nd beat, but it was Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) and the Mayhews (N3437) who found most of the ladders.

By now Jon & Maya Brown (N3483) and George Finch & Toby Hunt (N3551) had established a good led from the fleet, although ever fearful the wind could drop completely and fill in from behind during the two reaching legs of Lap 2.

Jon & Maya Brown (N3483) took a convincing win, with Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) sailing very fast and took 2nd place, by just a ¼ of a boat length from George Finch & Toby Hunt (N3551) who finished 3rd.

Race 3 - Triangle

The same course was set again for Race 3, with an ever decreasing and unpredictable wind. Going left paid off this time and the difficult wind saw some of the boats visiting the front, middle and back of the fleet, just on this beat! Adam Fuller & Saffron Hill (N3467) were showing great speed in this race, with the conditions suiting their non T-Foil rudder.

The race was shortened to just one lap as the breeze wasn't looking promising, and those who had set their recovery tactics on a good 2nd beat were out of luck!

Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) regained their form* and took the win. Ian & Alex Gore (N3525) were 2nd, with Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) 3rd.

Race 4 - Sausage / Triangle

A one lap race, consisting of a sausage then a triangle was set for the 4th and final race of the N12 'End of Winter' Championships. Again, going left on the first beat was the best strategy, although some of the wind shifts were tremendous (or tremendously bad!) Robbie Stewart (crewed by Charlotte Stewart) in N3501 decided to tack onto starboard, hit the mark and nudge a few boats at this mark rounding. It was some light entertainment after a difficult first beat, with no harm done.

A range of tactics were tried out during the incredibly slow downwind leg, now against the tide. Heading 'down the middle' was the best option, although was not without danger as Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) and Robbie & Charlotte Stewart (N3501) 'enjoyed' some inter-family rules discussion on the approach to the leeward mark.

A mix of tactics followed for the 2nd beat, those favouring to stay right and in the now ebbing tide initially did well, but it was still a very slow and difficult beat. After the gybe at the now infamous 'Berners' post, Ian & Alex Gore (N3525) and Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) established a clean lead an sailed an untroubled remainder of Race 4.

However, the fun really began for the rest of the fleet! Adam Fuller & Saffron Hill (N3467) and Cameron Harris & Danny Blackburn (N3513), in 3rd & 4th place, became becalmed as a gust carried the majority of the fleet in their direction. There was a 'bundle' of at least 7 National 12s now waiting for some breeze. A few puffs arrived, from different directions and a number of sailors likened the conditions to Salcombe, but without the ice cream or blue water. A very busy mark rounding saw Tom & Isobel Stewart (N3544) and Chris & Nicole Mayhew (N3437) take the lead on this pack of boats. This race probably had the most place changes ever known!

Ian and Alex Gore (N3525) won, with Graham & Anya Camm (N3530) in 2nd and Tom & Isobel Stewart finishing 3rd.

The fleet then headed home, after a day of very close racing. As the results below show, just 4 points separated 5th to 11th place. Thanks to all at RHYC who made this event and the dinner the evening before happen, during an extremely busy weekend for the club!

Photos are available at www.flickr.com/photos/pavelkricka/albums/72177720297490441

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameN12 DesignHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4PtsNotes
1st3544WhitebaitDead Cat BounceTom StewartIsobel StewartRoyal Harwich Yacht Club1‑11135U21c
2nd3525MogDead Cat BounceIan GoreAlex GoreUp River Yacht Club‑44217 
3rd3530Very Hungry CaterpillarDead Cat BounceGraham CammAnya CammBurghfield Sailing Club‑32327u21c
4th3437Worth It's Weight...Final ChapterChris MayhewNicole MayhewRoyal Harwich Yacht Club2‑54410 
5th3551Over The RainbowDead Cat BounceGeorge FinchToby HuntRoyal Harwich Yacht Club83‑11819u21c
6th3467Hagar The HorribleFeeling FoolishAdam FullerSaffron HillRoyal Harwich Yacht Club7‑127519NT‑F
7th3471Lars Porsena Of ClusiumFinal ChapterDan MeadowcroftZoe BallantyneUpper Thames Sailing Club96‑10621U21h
8th3483TontoParadoxJon BrownMaya BrownBurghfield Sailing Club51(DNC)DNC22U21c
9th3538A Glass and a Half FullFeeling FoolishDavid ConlonSarah ConlonBrightlingsea Sailing Club688(RET)22 
10th3431ZippyFeeling FoolishJohn MeadowcroftElouise MayhewUpper Thames Sailing Club‑1095923u12c
11th3513Silver LiningFeeling FoolishCameron HarrisDanny BlackburnWaldringfield Sailing Club‑11106723U21c NT‑F
12th3501SilverfinFeeling FoolishRobbie StewartCharlotte StewartRoyal Harwich Yacht Club‑12791026U21h
13th3432Crazy JayneFeeling FoolishSteve Le GrysPenny GillettRoyal Harwich Yacht Club‑1313121136NT‑F
14th3198IncaBaggy TrousersJosh RichardsonJacob RichardsonRoyal Harwich Yacht Club(DNC)DNCDNCDNC48U21c
14th3528Blue KangarooDead Cat BouncePete MiattOlivia MiattCarsington Sailing Club Ltd(DNC)DNCDNCDNC48u21c

U21c = Under 21 Crew
U21h = Under 21 Helm
NT-F = No T-Foil Rudder
AC = Admirals Cup

*Race 2 saw Tom & Isobel finish 11, to "maximise their discard". Can anyone remember the last time Tom had a double-digit race result in a N12 race?

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