Saturday 15 September saw the start of the 35th 24-hour race, hosted by West Lancs YC in Southport. Teams from 63 clubs from all over the country entered the event, which turned out to be an epic endurance race. The teams consisting of some10 sailors, with their many shore supporters, who had to sail continuously around three cans around the perimeter of the Southport Marine Lake. The boats, comprising Enterprises, GP14s and Larks, were started in flights of 10 at one-minute intervals. On shore activities included the continuously open bars and live entertainment in the evenings.
Windspeeds of up to 56 miles an hour were recorded, which, when coupled with spells of torrential rain and hailstones, led to a spectacular spectator event. Most of the sailing was completed in Force 4-6 with the wind only easing for the last two hours to the finish.
An early lead was established by the Enterprise Association – Frensham Pond team. Four hours into the event, having started in flight six they fought their way through the mid fleets to the leaders. The leader at this time was the RS Enterprise who was followed by Blackpool & Fleetwood. Both these boats went down at the gybe mark in some of the strongest winds of the day. The following Enterprise association boat successfully rounded the mark.
The Enterprise Association then spent the rest the time watching the GP14 battle behind consisting of the ever changing places of the teams from younger team from Blackpool & Fleetwood, the established Chase SC and the very solid sailed RS GP14. As the wind swung it enabled the GPs to fly their kites, allowing them to make ground on the the leading Enterprise. However, the wind conditions were so strong and, considering the difficult angle of the wind, kites were only seen on few occasions. Despite carrying out rudder repairs, the Enterprise Association – Fensham Pond team lead was hardly challenged over the 24 hours. They won with a staggering 126 laps, equalling the event record.
At the prizegiving team captain, Nick Craig thanked James Stewart for crewing for a staggering total of 10 hours, and Mark Lunn for the loan of his boat. As well as these latter three names on the team, their compatriots included Roger Gilbert, Al and Chris Fry, Richard Sault, and Paul Hilliar.
Sailing to their handicap the WLYC club welcomed again for their second year, Paul Gardner and the Lark dinghies. The leading Lark at the finish was team from the Lark Class Owners Association “B” team who finished an excellent 18th.
The first ladies team “Doris Yacht Squad Ladies”, the third RS team, sailed gallantly to pull up to 24th overall, a feat in itself when the combined crew weight was 19 stone. Team Captain, Trudie Danbury, was allegedly heard trying to convince Greg O’ Brien to dress up as a woman in an endeavour to double their crew weight!
West Lancs YC Masters team got off to a tremendous start in a GP14 with captain Stuart Sinclair, crewed by Kathy Robinson, finishing in a very creditable 25th place overall but taking first Masters Team prize.
Special mention must go to the team which put the ‘E’ in endurance Sheffield Hallam University. The team of two was sailing in aid of Breast Cancer Research. After sailing for the full 24 hours the helmsman and crew team had completed an amazing 48 laps to finish 47th overall. They raised hundreds of pounds over the weekend from generous donations by fellow competitors.
Thanks go to the sponsors Natwest Bank, Bill Shields Refinishers, Gaynors the Printers, Oakhurst, Speed Sails, Champion Newspapers, Trinity Publications, Dorman Traffic Products and Hire Station One Call. Sailpower.com presented T-shirts to the overall winning team.
1st Ent Assoc Frensham Pond, Ent 2288, 126laps` 10m 12s avg lap
2nd R.S. Class Association “B” GP9948 122laps 10m 31s avg lap
3rd Blackpool & Fleetwood YC GP1 122laps 10m 34s avg lap
4th Chase SC GP13676, 123lap