A fleet of 10 National Twelves descended on Ullswater Yacht Club for the annual Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy weekend

A fleet of 10 National Twelves descended on Ullswater Yacht Club for the annual Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy weekend which, despite the Foot and Mouth problems achieved, a total entry of around 210 boats.

The Birkett consists of two long distance race taking in the whole of the lake and takes typically three and half to five hours to complete (longer if the wind is non existent). The Saturday race started in a light breeze with 200 plus boats ranging from cruisers through to International 14s and every conceivable asymmetric boat to National 12s and Lasers. Not unexpectedly, with so many boats on the same start line, a general recall resulted in the black flag rule and even then a second recall was required before the fleet got away to the windward mark in a reducing and very shifty breeze.

Several 12s were well up at the windward mark, however, at the second mark a large raft of boats totalling 70-80 locked together to form a barrier from mark to shore almost! Howard Chadwick and Helen Nicholson (Design 8) having completed a devastatingly slow first beat arrived well down the fleet but just as the raft drifted away from the mark leaving them free to sail round the off into clear wind down the lake. A few more lucky breaks saw the pair finished ahead of the other 12s but to stony silence having been one of the few boats black flagged on the second recall from the 50 or 60 other boats over but hidden in the pack. Dave and Jennie Davies (Radical Posture) were close behind and took the line honours for our fleet with Bernard Clark and Trevor Shipley (Final Chapter) finishing second hotly pursued by Alan and Carol Thomson (Design 8) in third position.

As the Sunday start approached and the Saturday night hangovers subsided, the wind disappeared and in came the rain but the 12s were not to be put off. Due to a windshift before the start the 200 or so boats started on a downwind drifter at the first attempt having learned from Saturday’s black flags to behave themselves. Several 12s were in the front end of the fleet at the first mark and started the long beat of about six miles or so to Norfolk Island.

As the wind filled and shifted, the leg went from a beat to a run and all things between with much place changing. It finally ending up as a beat in a Force 3-4 breeze. David and Jennie Davies opened out a lead but this was steadily reduced and overtaken by Howard Chadwick and Helen Nicholson with Bernard Clark and Trevor Shipley in third place.

At the windward mark the two leading 12s were neck-and-neck as they shot off down the run, although this was resolved when an unnoticed starboard tack enterprise result in Howard and Helen performing a crash gybe and centreboard inspection! The final positions were Dave Davies first 12 , Bernard Clark second 12 and Howard Chadwick third twelve. Overall David and Jennie Davies’ expertise and consistency resulted in N3260 being first 12 with a creditable 29th overall.

Overall Results

1st 3260, Dave Davies Jennie Davies

2nd 3382, Bernard Clark Trevor Shipley

3rd 3295, Alan Thomson Carol Thomson

4th 3216, Neil McInnes Katie McInnes

5th 3149, Peter Roe Helen Bird

6th 3356, Howard Chadwick Helen Nicholson

7th 3209, John Cheetham Alison Cheetham

8th 3106, Paul Metcalfe Cathy Lawson

9th 3230, John Burton Duncan

10th 3243, Ronald Melvile Robert Kelly