|Draycote Dash||23/24 Nov|
|Datchet Flyer||14/15 Dec|
|Brass Monkey - resail||18 Jan|
|Grafham Grand Prix||29 Dec|
|Oxford Blue||4 Jan|
|Bloody Mary||11 Jan|
|Steve Nicholson||25 Jan|
|Tiger Trophy||1/2 Feb|
In just a few hours the Northampton weather turned from heavenly to hellish, making for a regatta that will linger long in the memory
The 2014 Steve Nicholson Trophy, which is part of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series, was amazing in many ways - with a beautiful winter sail to start and an apocalyptic storm to finish!
The event, which raises money for Asthma Research, yet again reached the entry limit of 150. The quality of all three fleets was superb with many National and World Champions in attendance. The Prizes for the event were generously donated by Harken, Gul, Gill, Zhik, P&B and SailJuice.com.
Race one was started in a benign Force 2 and winter sunshine making many wish they had put their sunnies on. The Doublehanded fleet were first off, and Steve and Sarah Cockerill in a Merlin were first to show from a congested port end, hotly pursued by Christian Birrell and Richard Anderton in a Fireball. Further down the fleet (but not much) Nick Copsey with local youngster Lewis Bowen crewing were well up in their National 12, as was the GP14 of Sam Watson and Andy Hunter. It was the GP that took the honours on handicap.
The names at the front of the Singlehanded fleet often appear in race reports and it was Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard, this time in a Solo, who enjoyed the lighter conditions to win the first race from the talented Ben Pickering in a Blaze who relegated Charlie Cumbley in another Solo to third.
Whilst the larger fleets stopped for a bite of the excellent Northampton Sailing Club food, the Asymmetric fleet took to the water for their first race. The stunning VX One was flying but it was Ben Schooling in the Musto Skiff who took the race on handicap from Felix Crowther and Tom Darling in a 29er who in turn pipped the ever consistent Nick Craig in his D-One.
The breeze, as per the forecast, was starting to build for the Single- and Doublehanders’ second race. This was to the liking of the Fireballs who shot off the line, Matt Burge and Waggers got to the top mark first and stayed out of trouble to take the victory but Christian Birrell and Richard Anderton added another second to take the fleet prize. Meanwhile the wind was building and the rescue boats were getting into the swing of things having to tow several boats off the lee shore and recovering a Blaze with a broken mast.
Just as in the Doublehanded fleet the trapeze boats in the Singlehanded fleet revelled in the breezier conditions. Contender National Champion Stuart Jones showed the way and took first from Phantom star Andy Couch. Charlie Cumbley is a Solo heavy weather expert but nonetheless his third place in race two in strong breeze is still very impressive, and it was good enough to secure the fleet victory.
The Asymmetric fleet set out for their second race under darkening skies. The fleet got down to the bottom mark with a few spills but as they lined up to start all hell let loose.
Ben Schooling commented: “The 40kt squall that came through on the start of the Asymmetric fleet second start was epic! At one point I eskimo-rolled and the whole boat flipped out of the water, over my head and landed 6ft away! The sail and mast took a hammering, numbers and Musto Skiff logo have started peeling off with all the ragging. Nathan and Ian (Martin) turned turtle in the VX1 twice and K6s were washed up on the far shore.”
With the apocalyptic conditions wreaking havoc, the final Asymmetric race had to be cancelled. The well-practised rescue boat drivers of Northampton went into overdrive and everyone was brought ashore safely.
The final event of the Series is the John Merricks Tiger Trophy at Rutland Water next weekend, on 1 & 2 February. The outcome of the Series looks like it will go down to the very last race, the pursuit race at Rutland.
Report by Tom Stewart of P&B
You can find photos from the Steve Nicholson Trophy here:
Ant York/ ChunkyPics.co.uk:
To find out more about the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series:
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Please contact Andy Rice
Phone: +44 (0) 20 8133 9330