The British contingent swept the board at the recent GP14 Nigerian nationals at Lagos

The 2001 Nigerian GP Fourteen nationals were held at Lagos Yacht Club on Saturday 10 November. The event returned after a year’s break when entries had been hard to find. In an attempt to drive up interest, the event was held on a short match racing basis, with four flights of four sailing each other once, followed by quarter finals through to a final. To fit everything into one day, the courses were simple windward/leeward, with one round only and sudden death elimination after the round robins on one race only.

A full field of 16 entries was assembled, comprising two boats from the Navy Sailing Club at Ojo and 14 from LYC. As the day dawned, the only problem was the weather. An unfortunate overnight tropical storm had as usual disturbed the wind, in place of the normal brisk south-westerly there was only a very weak and fitful southerly.

After an hour’s delay an attempt was made to start, which resulted in only seven boats being able to make the windward mark into the teeth of a strong flood tide. Another pause for more wind and to shorten the course led to the event now running three hours late.

Fortunately the wind held long enough to allow the round robin phase to be completed, but only just. As the last flight got away the wind spiralled round to the south west, making the windward mark a tight fetch. This didn’t really affect the result, which was allowed to stand.

With the light and wind fading, it was decided to shorten the event. Two more races were to be held, a fleet of eight, then a fleet of the top four, with a new windward mark and a simple triangle course. The first race of this pair was to be the undoing of Stewart and Sally Jones in L23 and Don Third and Margaret Sangster in 8454, who finished first and second on the water but both had been OCS. This let in a relieved Phil Rayner and Martine Keat in 12941 and Mike and Roy Barnes in 10340, both of whom would otherwise have been eliminated. Jonathan Rhodes with Dave Jones in 11377 and Paul Denhart and John Keat in 11078 were the other non-qualifiers, both of whom had done extremely well to get this far.

The final was thus down to Rayner and Barnes together with Richard and Judy Willmott in 8711 and David Middleditch and Sue Wright in 12350. Barnes, Willmott and Middleditch enjoyed themselves in a scrap for the line, which left Middleditch also OCS. Having avoided the fracas, Rayner sailed free to win in the gloaming, aided further by Willmott and Barnes both hitting the windward mark in their continued battle.

Despite the trying day and the unconventional ending, the event had proved to be hugely enjoyable, leaving LYC determined to try match racing again. Support from Arthur Andersen and Aluminium City enabled everyone to enjoy a post event party and all competitors went away with something.

Overall Results

1st Phil Rayner (Eng)/Martine Keat(Fra) 12941 Calypso

2nd Richard Willmott (Eng)/Judy Willmott (Eng) 8711 Betty Jo

3rd Mike Barnes (Eng)/Roy Barnes (Eng) 10340 Scoop

4th David Middleditch (Eng)/Sue Wright (Eng) 12350 Super Sue

5th Jonathan Rhodes (Eng)/Dave Jones(Eng) 11377 Ccin Ccin

6th Paul Denhart (Eng)/John Keat (Eng) 11078 Billabong

7th= Don Third (Sco)/Margaret Sangster (Aus) 8454 Francolin

7th= Stewart Jones (Eng)/Sally Jones (Eng) L23 Welsh Connection