Junior 12 Hour Race 2013
The annual midsummer madness descended on WFSC juniors over the weekend of 29/30 June at Southport. Despite only three training sessions prior to the event , an eager team assembled on the “wrong side of the fence” and erected their tents on the now traditional campsite. This, however, is within earshot of Team Captain’s, Jon Close, headquarters so any quiet periods were noted!
Strong winds and driving rain finally abated at 5am on Saturday morning much to the relief of all the competitors. Tom Foulkes and Sam Clarke had the early wake up call to start the race for WFSC. The GP fleet started one minute after the Enterprises who, as always, were away first, leaving the Bosuns to bring up the rear. This experienced pair of sailors soon settled into the race, despite being frustrated by the spinnaker which kept coming down of its own accord, and started to work their way through the Ents to establish a 12th position at the changeover with Sarah Davis and Immy Taylor. This second pair was perfectly matched for the conditions – the wind strength had dropped and more could be gained by concentrating on boat speed rather than trying to get the spinnaker flying – and so when they came off the water WFSC had moved up to 10th. No pressure on Anna McCrae and Megan Bird then….
Megan immediately started to tidy up the boat to ensure that the spinnaker would go up and down as expected and after rounding the first mark it was up and away with Megan in full control of the troublesome kite. Anna’s sailing head was definitely in gear, by the time they came off the water WFSC were two further places up the fleet, in 8th position – much to her disbelief expressed in only the way that Anna could say it!!
Meanwhile, the first place of the competition was being hotly contested by South Staffs girls’ team and South Staffs boys’ team – something WFSC should aspire to! The other teams were now also getting into the race and places lower down the order were changing frequently. WFSC finished 8th in 2012 and the team were keen to match or even better this result so had to rise to the challenge. Phil Smalley took the helm next with Sam Clarke as crew. Phil, a new recruit to the team, only his third time in a GP14 and only the second time with a spinnaker, with Sam’s experience maintained the team’s overall position.
A flypast by a Spitfire in the afternoon was a wonderfully unexpected bonus! Jon correctly identified the sound of the approaching aircraft as a Spitfire and all the spectators were delighted to watch as it circled the marine lake once, then a second time as it waggled its wings in farewell before heading off in the direction from which it arrived.
So, back to the race. Late afternoon and WFSC were still in 8th position and Peter Gorst, a staunch supporter of the club juniors every year at this event, bade farewell to the sailors to face the horrors of the Runcorn Bridge closure yet again. The wind had died once more, favouring the Enterprises, but WFSC kept the boat going well despite a collision with Crosby Scouts (who acknowledged that they were responsible and took their penalty). Later Sam, this time at the helm with Tom at the sharp end, finished the race for the team to loud cheers from those from WFSC on shore. Another great result – 8th again.
Southport SC is to be congratulated on hosting another great event. Sadly, it was the last one that Tom and Sarah were eligible to compete in (old age creeps up on everyone!). I would like to say a personal “thank you” to them both. Put Sarah in a boat, whether as crew or helm, and you know that she will perform to the best of her ability and it will be a job well done. Tom has been an inspiration to the team, someone quietly confident who always manages to motivate everyone, gets things done on time at the right time and rises to the challenge of whatever sailing conditions prevail. You will both be missed, but we look forward to seeing you back as support crew next year!