The third annual Steve Nicholson Memorial race was held on the 25 January at Northampton Sailing Club

The third annual Steve Nicholson Memorial race was held on the 25 January at Northampton Sailing Club. Crewsaver, Gill, Gul, Henri Lloyd, Magic Marine and Musto generously donated the prizes and the event raised just under ‘2,000 for asthma research.

The event is a two race open handicap split into separate starts for asymmetric, two man and singlehanded dinghies. The weather forecast of 30 mile an hour winds seemed to put no one off and some good breezes and unseasonably mild weather rewarded the 125 competing boats. The 48 boat two handed fleet started first. Nigel Bird and Katie Dolling sailing an Enterprise probably made the best start but as often is the case in big handicap fleets, the stream of bigger faster boats put paid to their chances and they finished 17th in race one.

It was the Fireballs of Dave Wade/Richard Wagstaff and that of Chips Howarth/Vyv Townend that battled for first place on the water, with Wade and Wagstaff coming out on top at the finish, but once the handicappers had done their bit, it was Simon Potts and Chris Downham in a Merlin Rocket who won race one.

The wind had dropped for race two which led to a change at the front. David Winder crewed by Jilly Blake in a Merlin beat the fireballs around the course and took the handicap victory. Simon Potts and Chris Downham were right up with the action and scored a second, which gave them overall victory. Further down the results Tom Stewart and Liz Ross stayed ahead of a strong fleet of National 12s and finished sixth overall, likewise Matt Flint and Andy Thompson headed a strong turn out of Flying 15s to finish seventh. Nigel Bird and Katie Dolling were first Enterprise in both races but their 16th overall probably fails to reflect how well they sailed.

The 46 competitors in the singlehanded fleet started five minutes after the double-handers and it only took a lap for the faster boats in the fleet to mix it with the earlier starters. Local star Anthony York in an RS600 won both races on the water and with enough distance ahead of the rest he took race one on handicap, and a fifth place in race two was more than enough to win overall.

Clive Harries led the charge from the Grimwith Vortex fleet but unlike last year, when Vortexes dominated he only managed a fifth place on handicap in race one and the lighter conditions in race two appeared not to suit them as the best Vortex in race two only managed 21st place.

Martin Weatherstone sailing a Moth was right up with the leading Vortexes in the first race and earned himself a second on handicap but struggled in the second race, he still managed to beat the five other Moths overall. The challenge from the Phantom fleet was exceptionally strong with 12 boats competing and three finishing in the top four places. Nick Beloe sailed consistently and finished with a sixth and a third giving him second overall, edging out former national champion Alan Burrell, who in turn managed to beat current champ Simon Childs by a point.

The asymmetric fleet sailed their first race while everyone else had a lunch break. The 49er of Olympic Silver medallist Simon Hiscocks and Charlie Muir was the first boat to reach the windward mark, along with Dave Hall and Adam Clark. Ian Pinnell and Kimbell Morrison in an International 14 were hot on their heels and it looked as if these three boats would dominate the race. However, on the second lap a black cloud brought a 30-degree wind shift and another 10 knots of breeze and the fast boats could not make the leeward mark. For a short time Graham Vials and Katherine Hopson in an RS200 were the only boat not over powered and were able to make it to the buoy on a flat out reach unfortunately for them Race Officer Richard Willows was quick to react to the windshift and decided that as they were meant to be sailing windward leewards, he would re-start the race.

After the re-start it was Ian Pinnell who stayed close enough to the 49ers to beat them and the rest of the fleet on handicap. RS400 stars Roger Gilbert and James Stewart showed their experience and coped well with the supposedly faster boats to take second on handicap in race one and in the lighter second race, they reversed the finishing order with Pinnell and Morrison, which meant that they won overall. Roger Phillips and Will Crocker sailing a 29er were consistent with a third and a fourth and edged out James Mackintosh in a Musto Skiff to finish third.

Overall Results


1st Simon Potts and Chris Downham, Merlin Rocket, Shustoke SC

2nd Chips Howarth and Vyv Townend, Fireball, Hayling Island SC

3rd Dave Wade and Richard Wagstaff, Northampton SC


1st Anthony York, RS600, Northampton SC

2nd Nick Beloe, Phantom, Northampton SC

3rd Allan Burrell, Phantom, Thorpe Bay YC


1st Roger Gilbert and James Stewart, RS400, Frensham Pond SC

2nd Ian Pinnell and Kimbell Morrison, International 14, Northampton SC

3rd Roger Phillips and Will Crocker, 29er, Grafham SC