A stiff, cold breeze greeted competitors on Boxing Day for the National 12 Boxing Day Cup at Royal Harwich YC

With a very wintry and breezy forecast it was remarkable that 12 National 12s lined up to take part in the Boxing Day Cup at Royal Harwich YC. Who needs to go to the Southern Ocean when you have the East Coast on your doorstep? The freezing conditions were to overcome some before they were even able to launch, such that three boats, although rigged and ready, did not make it on to the water. Best excuse went to Gerry Ledger who found that his drysuit seals had perished since he had last used it on Boxing Day last year!

Once launched it was a fast reach out to the start line under a shower of ice cold spray. Richard Williams & Stella Brown were the first to try the water temperature after gear failure. Their anguished faces evidently encouraged both Fran Gifford & Neil Ravenscroft and Malcolm Mackley & Michael Douglas to choose the immediate option of a hot shower before the race started.

Thankfully for the remaining competitors the race was a quick two-lap blast around the channel markers off the club. First to show were Antony Gifford and Jess Brown, but they were overhauled before the first mark by Jon & Charlotte Ibbotson. On the reaches, Gifford and Brown took advantage of puffs to close up on to the Ibbotsons transom.

With ice forming on the decks and in the cockpits, the looming gybe mark did nothing to inspire confidence. The Ibbotsons had a good wobble but survived, but Gifford and Brown were not so lucky and enjoyed a quick swim in the Orwell. Steady and stable, Chris & Derek Mayhew were eyeing their opportunities in the chasing pack.

However, the Ibbotsons were able to consolidate their lead on the next beat and continued their march to victory ahead of Gifford & Brown, the Mayhews, Gerry & Tom Garner and Graham Ireland & Michael Douglas. They were the only finishers as the other competitors realised that the Club bar was a far more inviting place to spend Boxing Day.