Tricky conditions prevailed at last weekend's National 12 open meeting at Pevensey Bay

The National 12s sailors who travelled to Pevensey Bay SC for the annual class open meeting encountered generally light winds, strong tides and plenty of windshifts last weekend. All but Tom Stewart and Liz Ross found such tricky conditions not conducive to consistent sailing. Stewart and Ross won the first four races and left the remainder of the fleet to negotiate another race whilst they relaxed on the beach.

Stewart and Ross entirely dominated all of the four races bar the first. John and Katy Meadowcroft held a marginal lead at the windward mark ahead of Stewart and Ross and then Antony and Jo Gifford. The Meadowcrofts sailed too low on the first reach, dropping them to third. On the next leg it was Stewart and Ross’ turn to sail too low as the Giffords piled over the top. The Giffords showed good speed to take what appeared to be a decisive lead. However, what was to become normal service started on the final beat when Stewart and Ross sailed past the rapidly slowing Giffords on the finish line. Ian and Alex Gore took third place.

The second race on Saturday was sailed in the most wind of the weekend – enough to pull the elderly transom from the back of Graham Iles’ boat. The Meadowcrofts again led at the windward mark, and tried in vain to defend down the first reach with Stewart and Ross challenging. Stewart and Ross took a lead that they held to the finish from the Giffords and then the Meadowcrofts.

Pevensey Bay SC served up their usual brand of Saturday night hospitality and sunglasses were not just required on Sunday morning due to the glorious weather. A short postponement ensued as a gentle breeze established itself. Stewart and Ross were oblivious to any hangover problems, leading all the way, pursued by Bruce and Clare Johnson, and Caroline Martin and Sophie Mackley. With the wind lighter, the tide running across the course was highly significant as were the fleet of Larks sailing on the same course who had a habit of general recalls and finally starting as the 12s approached their first leeward mark. Caroline Martin and Sophie Mackley finished second from Mike Cooke and Helen Hunt in third.

Race 4 was groundhog day. Stewart and Ross took another front rank start, sailed up the middle of the beat, exhibiting both excellent speed and conservative tactics. They led again at the windward mark, building a solid lead over Ian and Alex Gore which they held to the finish with Martin and Mackley in third. The fleet again met the Larks at the leeward mark which livened up proceedings.

With Stewart and Ross on the shore it was with great anticipation that the remainder of the fleet started the final race, despite no increase in the wind and the tide ebbing strongly. The Meadowcrofts led off the start line managing to reach to the first buoy as did the rest of the fleet with the tide pushing them upwind. The Gores were just behind and on a long slow first reach into the tide they just established an inside overlap at the first gybe mark. Despite a problem with a jammed centreboard, the Gores held on and indeed sailed away on a generally reaching course to secure the race win and second place overall. John and Mandy Thornton rounded off their day with second place from the Meadowcrofts in third.

Overall Results

1st N 3476 ‘Sliver’, Tom Stewart and Liz Ross, Royal Harwich YC, Feeling Foolish design

2nd N 3441 ‘Tabitha Musto’, Ian and Alex Gore, Up River YC, Feeling Foolish design

3rd N 3473 ‘Max Factor’, John and Katy Meadowcroft, Henley SC, Final Chapter design

4th N 3447 ‘Random Zigzag’, Antony and Jo Gifford, Aldeburgh YC, Final Chapter design

5th N 3455 ‘Bart’, Caroline Martin and Sophie Mackley, Burghfield SC, Feeling Foolish design

6th N 3472 ‘Aardvark Issues’, Mike Cooke and Helen Hunt, Notts County SC, ‘Big Issue design