Burton Week 2016

Tom & Robert Stewart Win Sir William Burton Cup

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2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the launching of the first National 12 and the 75th time the class has raced for the prestigious Sir William Burton Cup. Burton Week 2016, which is the British National Championship for the National 12 Class and incorporates the very special Burton Cup race, is being hosted by Brightlingsea Sailing Club from 20 to 23 August.

Today’s second day of racing featured two races, race three of the national championship points series followed by the special Sir William Burton Cup race, which is sailed to rules laid out in it’s historic deed of gift.

IMG_7769The boats left the launching ramp in a strong westerly that was periodically gusting up over twenty knots which made for a hairy reach to the race area and an even more spectacular race. The first attempt to get racing underway had to be recalled, but on the second time of asking the fleet was away and powered up the first beat in style.  The course was a compact triangle/sausage format and the first reach was an absolute white knuckle ride.  As the boats came into the gybe mark a number elected to wear round rather than gybe, although even this proved problematic for a number of these infamously tippy little boats.

IMG_7826By the second lap of the race the wind was starting to drop down into the mid teens making life a great deal easier for the crews, although there were still plenty of thrills and spills to entertain the spectators who had come out to watch aboard Steve and Carole Heppell’s 108 year old Brightlingsea built Kidby fishing smack My Alice. From the outset Steve Sallis and Katy Meadowcroft sailing Catbert from Hykeham SC looked impressively controlled throwing in confident gybes and never being unduly troubled by the short steep chop which could have been designed to make National 12 sailing as tricky as possible.  Nick Copsey and Steve Carver sailing All Tide Up from Stokes Bay SC kept the pressure on the leaders but couldn’t catch them, while Tom and Robert Stewart sailing Whitebait from Fox Marina YC took third, John and Mandy Thornton sailing The Full Monty from Burghfield SC fourth and overnight regatta leaders John and Ollie Meadowcroft sailing D B Cooper from Upper Thames SC were fifth.

IMG_8159For the big Burton Cup race the deed of gift calls for a triangular course with each leg being 1 mile long, a minimum of 12 miles must be sailed and the race must finish upwind.  Race Officer Dave Charlton and his team set up the course to those specifications and got proceedings underway again.  The fleet got away at the first time of asking with an individual recall signalled.  Neal and Freya Lily-white sailing Indecision from Burghfield SC were over the line but failed to return so were scored OCS. For the remainder of the fleet it was to be a gorgeous race in bright sunshine and a breeze which went from mid teens at the start of the race to circa ten knots by the finish.

IMG_8105Tom and Robert Stewart got a nice start and took advantage of the relatively clear air to pick their way up the beat just ahead of the chasing pack.  John and Ollie Meadowcroft slotted in behind them and the pair spent the rest of the race slowly extending on the rest of the pack as the Meadowcrofts did all the could to get past the Stewarts, whilst the Stewarts defended  impressively.

On the line it was Tom and Robert Stewart who claimed the right to add their names to one of British yachting’s best known trophies.  The Meadowcrofts took second with Kevin Iles and Andrea Downham sailing Snagglepuss from Thorpe Bay YC third and Jeremy and Luke Hartley sailing Dead Cat Bounce from Stoke Bay SC fourth.  In fifth place and winning the Coronation Cup for the highest placed husband and wife team were defending champions Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne sailing Very Hungry Caterpillar for Burghfield SC.

IMG_8179The Burton Cup race also counts towards the series points and in the overall standings John and Ollie Meadowcroft continue to lead the fleet with four points. Today’s third and second places move Tom and Robert Stewart up the leaderboard into second place, four points behind the leaders and a single point ahead of third placed Steve Sallis and Katy Meadowcroft. Just one more point back in fifth are Nick Copsey and Steven Carver, while Graham Camm and Zoe Ballantyne and Jeremy and Luke Hartley both now count twelve points overall with Camm taking sixth on count back.

Going into tomorrow’s final day its all still to sail for with up to three races technically possible, although a combination of a 14.00 last race start time and a forecast for very light winds make achieving all three unlikely.

After sailing the fleet gathered for it’s Annual General Meeting, followed by a beach BBQ and fun and games set against the backdrop of a spectacular sunset.