Photos of Di: Frances Copsey
I think you can tell it’s been a busy summer from the significant lack of posts. My last was the winter roundup – how can we now be at the beginning of September? Well, all I can say is it’s flown by.
I could tell you about all the club racing we’ve been doing – including the ones where we got a first and a second – or I could talk about the 12 Fest training weekend, which was humbling to say the least (there may have been a few tears, I’m embarrassed to admit). Or perhaps the 12 open at Royal Harwich, which went from crazy windy to completely calm, and back again in the space of one weekend.
This summer has been brilliant. I think some of the sails we’ve had in the past few months have taught me so much about crewing. My learning seemed to plateau for a while (right about 12 Fest time, when I just couldn’t seem to do anything right), then picked up again, just in time for…Burton Week!
Burton Week was two weeks ago now, and what can I say about my first nationals? I absolutely loved it.
Opening with a bang
The National 12 Burton Week 2017, hosted by Weymouth Sailing Club, opened with a bang. G and I drove down on the Friday and checked into our caravan with George and Lucy (N12: Silver Lining). Once Di was all set up and raring to go, a quick fish and chips and a pint and it was early to bed.
Day one of racing dawned breezy. We meeted and greeted, then got changed, ready to launch Di, with me feeling ever more nervous. Whenever someone asked “Is it too windy to sail, will they can it?” my nerves ramped up a little more. Your first ever nationals is an important event! I didn’t want it to be all called off on the first day (or worse, go out and have something break).
But as soon as we got out on the water, and we settled down to hike, the nerves were forgotten. For all my nerves when it’s windy, it’s by far my favourite sailing. Di seems to jump out of the water beneath us, the jib is so much easier to read, and I love pushing myself to hike just that little bit longer.
The classic boats, and some of those with small crews had decided not to sail, but for us, the racing was fantastic.
With extreme hiking, looking after my jib, trying to call out the gusts, and even paying attention to the tactical decisions G was making, this felt like proper sailing that I wasn’t messing up!
We achieved a 13th and a 9th, and were both guffawing as we headed back in at the end of the day.
‘If it stays like this all weekend,’ I thought, ‘this is going to be brilliant!’
Return of the light winds
Yep, on day 2 we awoke to beautiful sunshine and light winds. Trying to gear myself up for tactical tip-toeing around the boat, we launched and plodded, goose-winged, out of the harbour.
We didn’t do so well. A 20th and a 23rd, and a very frustrated team Di headed in to finish the day with a well-earned pint.
The next day was the Burton Cup. A prestigious race, it was exciting to finally take on this challenge. The fleet races just one in the day, but that race lasts far longer than the norm. This year’s took between two to three hours, with each leg stretching a mile long. With very light winds, we really struggled, slipping places as the wind lessened. We finished, tired and frustrated, at 23rd.
Welcoming back the breeze
For the fourth and final day of the racing, the wind turned up again, to G’s and my delight. With a meaty breeze and big rollers, we were soon soaked. Bearing away onto a reach past the committee boat, we let out a whoop of approval, and away we sped.
A slight hiccup occurred when the mast-ram line snapped, but a speedy bowline from me had it secured within the minute, and we were off again.
Another was when we gybed and fell over, losing two places, which had G roaring in dismay. Lucy later told us that George put this down to our playing silly gybing games, which gave us all a chuckle in the pub. (Perhaps the name of our next boat..?)
After two more ever-so-slight hiccups (G nigh-on quitting the boat but clinging on with his knees, and sailing past finish line…doh!) we finished with a respectable 18th and a 20th.
And that was it! Burton Week was finished. “I could keep sailing for another 3 days!” I wailed, as we sailed back in (having not half an hour ago stated my legs simply couldn’t give any more after this race).
Pints, prizes, and a shiny trophy
After de-rigging and getting Di all ready to drive back to Shoreham, it was speedily in to prize giving. We had been buddied with Nick & Emma, Rosie & Harry, and Patrick & Rory, resulting in our buddy team winning the Gipsy Trophy. Vouchers from GUL were very well received (and have already been spent on a new long-john wetsuit each, thank you very much!).
Plus, very exciting: we won a trophy! Well, G did technically, as it is the Arrows Trophy. George was the first helm that have never helmed at Burton Week before. With some really big names having won it previously, we were thrilled to win this. Now to have ‘George and Alice – ballers‘ engraved on it…
And so concludes our first N12 Burton Week. It was a truly fantastic long weekend. With a great mix of breezy and light to please all, brilliant company, and the open and sociable vibe of all 12 events, a great weekend was had by all. We ended up with a respectable 18th out of 33 overall, which we will take, and look forward to beating next year.
Onwards and upwards: continue fiddling with the t-foil, work on my gust-calling. And looking forward to the next 12 event!
A huge thank you to everyone from N12, and Weymouth SC for hosting us.