The 2014 Squib National Championships were hosted by the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club at Lowestoft between 5 and 12 July. As an addition this year, a simultaneous "Broadlands Regatta" was hosted inshore at the Waveney & Oulton Broad Yacht Club, which attracted 18 entries to compete in a somewhat more relaxed manner... This (and the infamous Lowestoft chop!) may have accounted for the reduced entries for the main Championships to 48.
However, the usual faces all turned out to do battle for the right to be crowned National Champion and ten boats from the Royal Corinthian made the short trip up the coastline to Lowestoft, for what promised to be a very exciting eight race series. The racing was held north of the marina, level with Corton.
Day one, Sunday, produced a strong start from the Royal Corinthian fleet. Phil Aspinall and Howie Enkel in Guy Fawkes (72) hit the ground running with a 2nd place in the practice race. Race one was won by the Hogans in Ric O’Shea (136), with Nigel & Jack Grogan of RCYC in Helmut Shöing 2 (105) posting a 3rd and Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey Lady Penelope (819) taking fourth spot.
The yearly fleet classification conundrum raised its head early on in the week, with silver fleet supremos Simon Sanders & Jools Briggs (What’s the Story 796) taking 13th in Race One. This exceptional start was mirrored by Mark & Ian Knights (Quids In 880), who took 19th place, in Mark’s very first Nationals as helm. This set the standard for the week, with Simon & Jools being bumped up into the Gold Fleet, whilst Mark & Ian were moved from bronze to silver.
On Monday Race 2 & 3 was raced with a building Lowestoft swell. There was no holding back for the Grogans, as they came 4th in Race 2 but took the bullet in Race 3. This provided some light relief at prize giving later on, as Hyde Sails as the day's sponsor, saw Nigel presenting the cup to Jack!
Other noteable Corinthian performances from Race 2 were Mickey Wright & Chris Dunn (Spoof 811) taking 5th place, Malcy & Andy in 11th, Simon & Jools in 13th and Robert Coyle and Ian Simmons (Humphrey 823) took 15th. Our Commodore crept up the order for the next race, posting a magnificent 7th in Race 3, whilst Mike Probert and Melanie Titmus (Pani Munta 128) took 11th place. Ben Luddington & Chris Brown (Mosquito 727) posted a 35th, their best result of the week.
Monday’s chop gave way to significantly calmer conditions on Tuesday, which also saw the arrival of a Royal Visitor (no, NOT Mrs T!); HRH Princess Anne dropped in on RNSYC to watch Race 4. The lighter airs with a honking tide really stirred things up amongst the fleet, with reaches turning into runs and the inevitable rafting chaos at leeward mark roundings. Alan Johnson & Dave Garlick (Cariad Bach 132 SCYC) made the most of the day, finishing in first place. The Royal Corinthian fleet decided to stick together, with six of the boats placing between 11th and 17th position. This was certainly an easier day for the lighter crews, which saw Gina & Alex Porteous (Festina Lente 678) take 13th place, one in front of Gina’s fiancé Andy in Lady P!
The calm weather disappeared with her Royal Highness by Wednesday – so much so that an early decision to abandon racing was welcomed by even the hardiest of competitors. Most occupied themselves in the pub but some took advantage of the lay day to brush up on their inland boating skills on Oulton Broad (Mike & Mel). One notable prize was handed out however, with Chris Brown (Mosquito 727) acquiring the infamous jacket for a failed acrobatic stunt which not only cleared the dance floor but left a neat "squib tick" shaped scar on the bridge of his nose (photographic evidence on the Burnham Squib Fleet facebook page!).
Unfortunately the wind did not abate sufficiently by Thursday, and so for the first time in many years, two days' racing were lost.
With two races scheduled for the final day, the eight race series reduced to six which resulted in just the one discard. Friday dawned with marginally lighter winds and it was the turn of the heavy weather crews to excel. Race 5 saw a 1/2/3 for the South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club, with the Hogans in 3rd, Alan Johnson & Dave Garlick taking 2nd place behind Dave Best & Mark Thompson (Crossfire 797). The Grogans pipped Mickey & Chris, finishing 6th and 7th respectively. The race was not without its drama, with Mike Probert (Pani Munta) fracturing his finger in the pursuit of glory.
Malcy and Andy led the charge in the sixth and final race, ending up with a second place behind NSOA Chairman Steve Warren-Smith & his super helm Stu Rix (Aquabat 13). Many boats decided to end the series early, opting for an early crane out instead of finishing the final race.
With no finishes outside the top five, and first place in Race 4, Alan & Dave (Cariad Bach) were crowned popular National Champions, beating the Grogans into second place and the Hogans into third. Nigel and Jack won the trophy for first boat related by blood or marriage, whilst Mel took third in the leading ladies crew trophy. Sam Cole and the RNSYC were fantastic championship hosts, now the focus is to Howth, Ireland, for 2015! (bit of a longer journey though…)