LLSC Juniors take Southport 12hr by Storm!

The build up to the event had been a little stressful with the juniors training to use symmetrical kites and genoas on the GP14s on Friday nights under the tuition of Julia, Lewis, Richard and John.  Some last minute issues with one of the boats meant a quick switch-around to Julia/Joe’s GP (thanks!) and last minute modifications to put it all together.

Come Saturday morning at 7.30am the team were assembled with boats fully rigged, ready for their pre-race briefing from Julia.  The lead-out teams of Harvey Leigh/Ben Welfare, and Elena Mecklenburg/Lewis Bacon took to the water for the 8.00am start.  With the Enterprises already gone, both teams started well and Harvey/Ben launched themselves into their first 2 laps to reclaim the Rogerson Trophy for U18 crew that we won last year.  They also took the West Wind Cup for fastest overall, a great start to get the team going for the day.

The first changeovers ensued at around 10.00am with Dan Hesp/Lewis Coop getting going for Team Rocky, pulling out a lead on the other U18 contenders, while Noe Peckham/Niamh McCann took over for Team Tovey. 

After a bright start and 4-6 knots of breeze, the wind decided to take a break and the lap pace went down to 25 minutes from 14 earlier.  This lull lasted a couple of hours with wind filling in sporadically, before settling down to the forecast direction of NW.  This lull was long enough to see the Enterprise of West Lancs drift off further into the lead, which they never relinquished despite some hard chasing by our team.

Harvey was back on the water next with John Bridgeman and they started hauling in the Southport GP team lying in second place, overtaking them just before they switched out.

Tom Saunders/Courtney Yarwood were flying along, making really good progress until the kite sheet went under the boat and the wrong side of the centreboard on their last lap.  No worries, the shore team sprung to the rescue with a fast recovery of kite sheet on the changeover when Harvey dived in to help!

On Elena’s next shift, crewed by Niamh (the only all-girl team to enter the girls helm at 4.00pm), they finished a creditable 6th place against some stiff opposition.  By this point the team was being sustained and refreshed on shore by cookies handed round by Alex and Leo, our future superstars!

Ben and Elena were back in action a couple of hours later for the U14 race, crewed by Lewis Coop and Noe Peckham, both staying on from their previous shift with Harvey and Jade Yarwood.  The U14 teams did us proud, finishing with a 1,2 against the other teams – Elena trailed Ben by only 20 seconds over the lap.  Another trophy in the bag!!

The breeze was now building from the sea breeze direction although the temperature was dropping enough for the fleeces to come out on shore, so it seemed to be a gradient wind rather than sea breeze.

It was enough to test the new combination of Niamh and Lewis Bacon on Team Tovey’s finishing shift as they left the changeover to a bunch of gusts, but they sailed an excellent last shift to maintain their 10th position against much older and more experienced opposition.  Lap times were dropping close to 10 minutes by now with the extra breeze.

Meanwhile in Team Rocky, Harvey and John had pulled out a good lead on Southport and were only half a lap down on the leaders before Lewis Coop switched in for the final few laps.  They smashed the final two laps to claim the Last Gasp trophy for fastest U18s.

As always, it was a long day, but the team had great fun and were flying kites all day long, a first for LLSC teams who have traditionally done the event in Enterprises.  More practice in the GPs and we will be even slicker next year.  In addition to the trophies in the race, the team were awarded:

The McDonald Cup – 2nd Overall

The Booker Trophy – 1st U18 team

The Southport Sailing Club Junior Trophy – 1st GP14   

Thanks to the team and all the coaches/parents who made this such a successful and enjoyable day.

Photos by all kinds of people, John Peckham included!