Southport 12 Hour Race 2018

Southport 12 Hour Race 2018

The Junior Southport 12 hr team 2018

For this year's Southport 12 hour junior race Midland Sailing Club entered a team of six who raced from 8am till 8pm in the club's Enterprise. There were 23 teams which consisted of 9 Enterprises, 9 GPs and 5 Argos and it was a beautiful warm summers day with a light North Easterly wind of about force 2.

Graham helmed with Evan as crew for the 8am start which was down wind to make things very interesting for the first time in a few years. We had a shaky start, there was a boat speed problem in the start box, it appeared that Graham and Evan were still asleep and we were almost lapped by the start of the second lap. At the end of the first leg by West Lancs Yacht club they decided to park in the shallow water to admire the view. Later on however, it appeared that their batteries were fully charged and their sail settings matched the wind direction (going out down wind) and that they were raising their centre board to avoid going aground in the shallow areas. Their second and third laps were much improved and even started to catch up a bit. By the end of lap 4 they had overtaken 4 Argo's and a GP, later an Enterprise sailed by WLYC was added to this list. However at the leeward mark they let 2 Argo's through again. Graham and Evan continued to progress well and at the end of their shift were 14th when they handed over to Ella and Hannah at 9.45am. 

Ella and Hannah were sailing well and at 10.30am we were 12th overall and the 6th Enterprise with all 5 Argo's behind us. The wind was increasing, the sun was glorious and the shore crew were now much happier and enjoying the day. The girls continued to sail well, taking more ground and were 11th by 10.45am and were 10th by 11.10am. There was a misunderstanding between the girls and the shore crew and they tried to come in at 11.20am but the docking area was busy and confused with many boats coming in from all directions, which meant the girls were sent on their way to do another lap to avoid the chaos. 

The wind had swung to an Easterly direction which is what was causing the chaos in the docking area as it was a lee shore. At 11.37am they came back to the docking area and Ella who had been the helm jumped out, Hannah took the helm and Carola jumped in to crew. 

Observations from the arm chair helms on shore were that the team was going well and were reacting well to the changing conditions. 

With a few strong Easterly gusts coming through there were a few "entertaining" moments which kept them on their toes. After 3 very fast laps Hannah's batteries had run out and she needed re-hydrating in the midday sun. 

At 12.15pm Ella re took the helm with Evan as crew and by 12.45pm were at 14th place, however, we were part of a group of 4 boats who had average lap times within a total of 8 seconds. These very experienced teams were Southport, Toddbrook and Leigh and Lowton and it was all to play for, as one moment you could be 14th and the next 10th with only a couple of seconds separating the group. 

20 laps had now been completed and some teams were capsizing in the gusty conditions. At 1.20pm we were up to 11th place with the same average lap time of the 10th boat, getting exciting now! By 1.35pm, just behind Toddbrook and Southport, Ella and Evan entered the docking area to hand over to Graham and Jeremy. It was a heavy landing but no damage was done as the shore crew jumped to it. 

The untested combination Graham helming with his brother Jeremy as crew appeared to settle down quickly and we soon consolidated 10th place before then overtaking Pilkington to become 9th at 2.25pm. The wind was force 2 to 3 with big gusts allowing planing at times. At 3.15pm we were still 9th and were 15 seconds per lap behind 8th placed West Lancs but only 2 seconds per lap ahead of Southport B team. At 3.30pm with 30 laps now completed Graham and Jeremy come off in 9th place having overtaken 2 boats and impressively closed down on West Lancs average lap time by 12 seconds per lap. An excellent performance which made their father Adam very happy. With a good force 3 to 4 Easterly blowing directly on shore a potentially difficult changeover was expertly handled by Graham and Jeremy handing over to Ella and Hannah for the ladies race at 4pm. We all hoped they could continue the good work and they did not disappoint, winning the ladies race out of 14 competitors in very gusty conditions. Ella and Hannah, the champion girls, were shocked and delighted when they read the notice of results and everyone had ice cream to celebrate. 

With results going well and a lot a stake the guru (Dickie D) was called for to give an over the phone pep talk to the sailors to ensure our continued great performances. 

Left under no illusion to the consequences of failure Evan took the helm in 11th position with Carola as crew at 4.50pm, another partnership sailing together for the first time. 

The shore team looked on in trepidation as the wind continued to increase, after a nervous first lap Evan and Carola settled down and worked their way up to 8th position overall, the highest position of the day. At 6.15pm they approached a windy gybe mark where there was already a capsized Enterprise and an out of control GP broaching. The shore team had their hearts in their mouths as Evan and Carola managed somehow to successfully gybe and also avoid the carnage. 

After stepping ashore to much applause a nervous Evan answered the phone to the Guru enquiring how he had got on, the Guru was delighted with the news. With an hour and a half left to go Graham and Jeremy took on the challenge of the last stint in still very gusty conditions. 

As anybody who has managed the Junior 12 hour race before will tell you, the last two hours can be the most stressful time and this occasion was no exception. At 7.05pm Graham and Jeremy approached the windy gybe mark in a large gust, a hesitant ease of the mainsheet led to a near capsize and a boat full of water causing a team manager  to be very nervous and Adam to be apoplectic at the thought of all the days hard work could be lost. Going down the following run a bit full of water Graham and Jeremy recovered their cool to continue the battle. The next lap was ok but the following was a little scary with Adam tearing his hair our yet again. Unfortunately they crossed the finish line 2 minutes ahead of the finish gun so they had to do an extra lap on top of a very long day. Luckily the wind dropped a little so the gybe mark was more manageable and they completed a good lap and had a loud round of applause from the crowd at the finish line being the last boat on the water. 

Not only did we win the ladies race but we finished in the top 10 with an excellent 9th position and were the 4th under 18 team. A magnificent result! 

Despite a long day the team all worked together to pack the boat away and then watched Ella and Hannah collect their trophy.

Congratulations to the great team and a big thanks to all the helpers on the day and all those who've helped along the way. We look forward to next year and another exciting race!