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Sunday July 12th saw the northern Twelves assemble at Sunderland Yacht Club for the ANYEC trophy (Association of North East Yacht Clubs). This was the first time in over 30 years that SYC has played host to the national 12 fleet, and PRO Graham Kirkham and his team were determined to make it a good one. The forecast was perfect with 10-12 knots of breeze from the west. This allowed the race officer to set a course that began on the northern side of the harbour to a windward mark then a reach across to the southern side of the harbour to a starboard rounding that then sent the fleet west up the river to the westerly fairway mark. This provided an interesting run back down the river to a leeward mark on the north side of the harbour just in front of the lighthouse, then a quick harden up to sail back through the line. There were 3 races scheduled, each race was 2 laps in duration and the racing was tight throughout the fleet with places changing frequently.
Race one began with the whole fleet getting away cleanly on the first attempt. The only casualties were Will Mitchell & Lois Spooner in 3479 who were T Boned firmly in the port side by Howard Chadwick & Catherine Ward In his classic 2266. It seems that they don’t build National Twelves like they used to, as there was barely a mark on 2266, But 3479 was left with a rather sizeable chunk missing from the portside gunwale. Meanwhile at the front of the fleet it was business as usual for the team of Philip David and Caroline Clarke from Yorkshire Ouse SC in 3499 as they went boat on boat against John & Alison Cheetham from Yeadon SC. In the end, it was Philip and Caroline that took the win from John and Alison followed in third by Mark & Anna Simpson from Scaling Dam in 3472.
A brief return to shore for lunch allowed the teams to
sample the joys of the SYC Galley and discuss the events of
the previous race. As good as lunch was, it was over all too
quickly and it was time to get back on the water. With the
first sound signal scheduled for 1.45 it was a mad dash out
to the committee boat to make the next start.
With the sound signals beginning promptly on time, there
were still several boats sailing out to the line as the
sequence commenced but by the time the gun went all the
fleet were present. Another clean start in good pressure saw
a real drag race off the line which soon turned into a game
of who blinks first. This was brought quickly to an end as a
large shift forced the whole fleet to tack. From here on out
it was anybody’s guess, but it didn’t take very long before
normal service was resumed. By the time the fleet had made
it to the second mark in the south side of the harbour and
were heading back up the river it was Phillip and Caroline
that were leading. They weren’t having things all their own
way though with the constant threat from John and Alison
never very far away By the time the second lap was complete
it was almost a complete re-run of race one with Phillip and
securing first place followed by team Cheetham in second and the Simpsons closing out third place.
Race 3 was back to back, This left little time for a breather for the tail enders of race two, but in short order the whole fleet was back in the holding pattern and ready for gun to start race 3. Despite the forecast predicting lighter airs, the pressure began to increase. This made the start interesting with 8 boats immediately tacking onto port leaving only the 2 boats of Philip and Caroline and Will & Lois on starboard. Things looked good for the starboard boats as they tacked back onto port and began to converge on the first mark, but a cruel shift played its hand and began to lift all of the now starboard boats above the lay line allowing them to crack off and plane their way into the mark. Phillip was able to find a gap just small enough to fit a cigarette paper and skilfully managed to nip and tuck his way into the mark rounding in fourth. His good fortune was Will and Lois’s loss as they now had to take the long slow route around the outside of the procession. With all of the distractions at the mark nobody had noticed that Team Simpson were on an absolute flyer in 3472 as they were already halfway down the reach towards the mark in the south side of the Harbour. Meanwhile, back in the pack it was a true dogfight that saw 4 boats abreast on the approach to the mark. The Convergence at the mark was messy but effective, and as the boats began to head up the river the quality of Phillip and Caroline and the Cheetham’s began to show as they began to pull away from the rest of the fleet and began their pursuit of the Simpsons. But it was not to be. Team Simpson sailed a flawless race and took the win by a comfortable margin. Sadly the increasing wind strength saw 2 retirements from the classic fleet in the guise of Brian Herring and Roz Stevenson from Winsford Flash SC in 2345 & Angus Beyts from Forfar SC who due to a lack of crew had teamed up with Patrick Hamilton from Burwain SC as they sailed in 2868.
Prizes were awarded for first and second in both the modern and the vintage fleets and were presented by Alan Dixon the commodore of SYC. As overall winner, Philip David declared the event a great success and expressed his thanks to the club and the race committee on behalf of the competitors. He added that Sunderland has demonstrated its ability to cater for both the modern and the vintage fleets and that he looked forward to returning to Sunderland in the future.