A total of 21 boats turned out for National 12 Salcombe Week at the end of July.

Salcombe Week was blessed with sun every day but not the fresh breeze which can make this harbour one of the most exciting places in the UK to race. Competition was hot, the 21-boat fleet featuring no less than four previous Salcombe Week regatta winners, plus another two winners of Burton Week races in recent years. As ever the goal for all the visitors was to try and stop perennial favourite Will Henderson, now crewed by son Robert, from cleaning up.

The week started in a heatwave on Sunday. The race winners were Frances Gifford and Rich Bailey who sneaked past the bemused Hendersons on a tricky final beat to take victory. In third were Jon and Charlotte Ibbotson, ahead of long-term race leaders Antony and Jo Gifford in fourth.

Monday saw the Hendersons taking a more serious attitude off the start line and they were leading at the first mark. The lead was extended through the race with David and Josie Greening in second and the Giffords in third.

Tuesday saw more breeze. John and Katy Meadowcroft and the Ibbotsons had a private duel at the front of the fleet only to run out of wind approaching the final mark. A pack of four chasing boats joined them, and in true Salcombe style, the Hendersons emerged with a lead that they held to the finish with the Ibbotsons second and Frances Gifford and Jenny Wilkins third.

Tuesday evening saw the juniors take the helm to compete in the Blinkhorn race for under-18 helmsmen. With six starters, Simon Hinks and Oliver Young won in a tight finish from Robert and Will Henderson. Sailed in the most wind, this was good spectator sport for those playing rounders on the beach.

Wednesday had very little wind. The cunning foxes in the fleet chose the Salcombe side of the estuary to start, and John and Mandy Thornton led from Dave and Rose Croft. This race had two phases of randomness involving waiting for the wind. There were, however, many new names at the front with the Crofts in the oldest boat in the fleet winning from Mark and Hannah Phillips who finished second in another older boat. The Hendersons visited all parts of the estuary in the hope of finding a solution, and they managed it, finishing third on a day when all their rivals, including the Thorntons, took a discard. ] Prior to racing on Thursday there was the annual impromptu race for flubber dinghies associated with the N12 fleet from Mill Bay Beach. The rules were simple – a Le Mans-style start, round three buoys and then first boat to hit the beach. This year there were only two entries with John Meadowcroft beating Mark Stowe (in a very rigid flubber) due to a better approach to, and landing, on the beach. More entries are hoped for in 2003.

Thursday was an improvement on Wednesday, but still with gentle breezes. The fleet remembered the cunning foxes from Wednesday and started on the Salcombe side of the estuary. The Meadowcrofts took the other less crowded side and at the first mark held a small lead from the Giffords. The Giffords passed them on the reach as did the Hendersons. The Hendersons showed their skills again to win the race, and to win the week with a day to spare. The Giffords held on to finish second, with Gifford and Wilkins in third and the Ibbotsons holding on to fourth.

Friday looked like a repeat of Thursday, with the start up-river again. The Giffords stormed off into an early lead with those who had taken the East Portlemouth shore. Hard on their heels were the Hendersons, Malcolm Mackley and Andrew Douglas and the Phillips. The Thorntons pulled through to third and these positions were held until the fleet returned to the main part of the harbour.

At this point it became apparent that Friday was going to turn out much more like Wednesday and it was the Crofts who revelled in this, taking the East Portlemouth shore for the long beat from Blackstone to Crossways. Meanwhile the leading pack of the Giffords, Hendersons and Thorntons had all taken the Salcombe bank. The Crofts found more wind and kept their boat moving better than anyone else as they tacked in and out of the beaches. By Crossways they were second to the Giffords and attacking hard up the final beat sailed through into a lead that they held to the finish, picking up their second race win of the week.

Overall Results

1 3418, Will and Robert Henderson, (Baggy Trousers design),Salcombe YC
2 3447, Antony and Jo Gifford, (Final Chapter design), Aldeburgh YC
3 3431, Frances Gifford and Rich Bailey /Jenny Wilkins, (Feeling Foolish design), Aldeburgh YC
4 3445, Jon and Charlotte Ibbotson, (Final Chapter design), Royal Harwich YC
5 3468, John and Mandy Thornton, (Numinous design), Henley SC
6 3461, David and Josie Greening, (Annie Apple design), Salcombe YC