Close racing ensued at this weekend's National 12 open meeting at Salcombe

With a course of Gerston, Blackstone, Crossways, Blackstone and an ebb tide, Saturday’s race at the National 12 open meeting at Salcombe YC saw some very close racing and much place changing. John and Mandy Thornton ultimately came out on top, narrowly beating Tom Stewart and Nicole McKenna to the finish with Will and Robert Henderson third

Sunday morning dawned bright but windless and, with a black flag start catching out the tardy, the fleet sailed – oh so gently – towards Gerston (up river) lead by David and Frances Wilkins. After an hour and a half, with the leaders just reaching the turn, a breeze filled in from the right and caught the tail enders as they left the top of the Bag; increasing rapidly from a gentle zephyr to about Force 4 enabling the back of the fleet to plane up on the leaders, inverting the order. The Hendersons’ knowledge of Salcombe showed through and they lead the way back to Blackstone and then to the finish, followed home by Stewart and McKenna. John and Katy Meadowcroft (competing in their new Waller-built Chapter for the first time) were third and John and Mandy Thornton, pulling through with just yards to the finish, were fourth.

With the wind trying to swing through 180 degrees, Sunday afternoon’s race started towards Blackstone (sailing towards the sea), and on turning the mark, the decision of which side of the estuary to take for the run back against the tide wrong footed a lot of the fleet.

Portlemouth proved the right side and the boats on that side pulled ahead – predictably Will and Robert chose that way. With the breeze dying as the boats sailed towards Gerston, again it became a race of patience. Showing strongly in the conditions were Simon Hinks and Tom Jeffries who traded places with the Meadowcrofts to the beat back to the finish. Will and Robert Henderson won for the second time that day, taking over two hours to finish, they were closely followed home by Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne – the leading two boats finishing well ahead of third placed Chris Mayhew and Charlotte Ibbotson.

After the trying conditions of the previous day, Monday brought a grey cold day; but there was some wind. Tom and Nicole lead home a good race with the Medowcrofts holding off Will and Robert on the line to take second with Antony Gifford and Jessica Brown finishing fourth.