The well-supported Gill National 12 series was won by Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne

The Gill National 12 Series 2004 was concluded at the end of October at Grafham Water Sailing Club. The seventh and final event of the series was held in a combination of sunshine, rain, wind and no wind. The outcome of the Admirals Cup and the Family Cup all hinged on this event, with the overall series and the junior cup being decided at the previous event.

As last year, Tom Stewart won the first two races and took the event, but Immediate Past Class Chairman Graham Camm, crewed by Zoe Ballantyne had already clinched the Series. Graham and Zoe won the series by winning the Royal Harwich event in May and counting a rake of consistent 2nd positions to finish with 7 points.

The main challengers were Ian and Alex Gore, who won both the Tynemouth event in June and Starcross in July. Other event winners included father and son team, Jimmy and Iain Millar, Bristol; Paul Pelling sailing with son Guy and daughter Hester, Hunstanton and Jon Ibbotson and Kate Edwards, Derwent. Overall the Gill series has had 93 entries. 4 out of 7 events had an entry of 30 boats or more, with Bristol and Royal Harwich achieving entries of over 40.

In the Admirals Cup fleet a fantastic battle has been going on between John and Alison Cheetham, Philip and Helen David and Gerry and Margaret Garner. Other contenders for the Admirals cup have included Max and James Hoffman and Neil and Katie McInnes.

The Family Cup, for members of the same family sailing together where one is a junior, has been highly contended with John and Alison Cheetham sealing their victory with a fine performance at Grafham. Runner up was Class Chairman Nigel May, sailing with his daughter Hannah. John and Alison did 6 out of the 7 events and put in a highly consistent set of results, and have this year exceeded all expectation by doing the double!

Finally, Jimmy Whitehead won the juniors, with close competition from Nathan Harding and Graham Iles.

The second year of the series has proved to be a total success, with the choice of venues and off the water activities being key to having a great all-round weekend. The first event at Bristol, as last year, provided many entries and the first chance to see friends after the long winter. The sailing proved to be trying with little and very variable wind, but 3 races were managed however, providing a great win for Admirals Cupper Iain Miller, sailing with son Jimmy. Gavin Willis’ interactive seminar on ‘heavy weather sailing with small crews’ was not exactly appropriate given the weather at Bristol, but extremely relevant at many other events throughout the year!.

The second event was scheduled for Draycote water, but due to a severe lack of wind the event was rescheduled for Hunstanton, in Norfolk, for the first weekend of North West Norfolk Week. The event was held with the rest of the competitors from Norfolk and a holiday atmosphere took over. The event was won by Paul Pelling, sailing with both his son Guy and his daughter Hester, hopefully we will be seeing more of them on the circuit in the next few years.

Royal Harwich was, as usual, excellent, with the club providing great racing. The event was won by Graham Camm, sailing with Zoe Ballantyne, showing great speed and skill in tricky conditions. As the sailing was held in the early morning and late afternoon due to tides, plenty of time was available for the seminar provided by Tom Stewart on rigging, and for sitting on the lawn with tea and cake. Arriving at Tynemouth this year provided a sense of déja vu, with the breeze and the waves up, as last year. The only difference was the wind was in the opposite direction. Yet again Ian and Alex Gore led the way, with an impressive display of windy weather sailing. Once again the hospitality of Tynemouth was fantastic and Mike Cook and Geoff Camm enlightened us all on the latest cutting edge techniques of carbon construction. Sailing on Sunday was gentle by comparison, but still with a nice breeze and waves.

Starcross, on the river Exe, proved to be the jewel in the crown of the Gill Series. Many competitors arrived through Friday evening to be met with a calm, beautiful estuary and the prospect of a fantastic sunny weekend. We were not disappointed. Saturday dawned sunny, with a nice breeze and rising tide. The racing was close and exciting with Ian and Alex continuing their winning streak. Saturday’s nights talk was given by Phil Morrison, the successful and well known designer, on his involvement in N12s over the years, and was entertaining and informative. Sunday’s racing was exciting and wet! And all competitors went home tired but happy. What made Starcross stand out was the size of the home fleet and the general level of enthusiasm. The club was fantastic, being helpful, friendly and set in a beautiful location. After a break for the national championship, the sixth event was held at Derwent Reservoir and combined with the inland championship. The wind was howling and the view of the reservoir from the road was obscured by lots of white water. 30 boats arrived but only 20 sailed with a number of unusual helm and crew combinations. Saturday was closely fought between Steve Sallis, sailing with Tressa King, Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne and the overnight leader, Jon Ibbotson and Kate Edwards.

The entertainment for the evening was provided by Steve Lovegrove who delivered a fantastic seminar on communication and teamwork. Steve’s words were ringing in everyone’s ears on Sunday as the wind blew stronger than ever. After a short postponement and a perceived lull in the conditions the fleet put to the water. Following a disappointing result on Saturday due to gear failure, Geoffrey Camm and Amelia Hall took no prisoners by leading from start to finish in both races, but consistent results from Jon and Kate gave them the event and the inland championship.

The final event, as detailed earlier was held at Grafham and considering the weather forecast of gales, an entry of 33 boats was a testament to the success of the Gill series format. Racing was close and competitive as everyone jostled to get the best final position for the series. This was followed by the event prizegiving and the prizegiving for the series, where Terry Cook, from Gill, kindly presented the prizes.