Hosted by the Lymington Town Sailing Club
21 to 23 September 2012
|Pos||Boat Name||Sail No||Helm||R1||R2||R3||R4||R5||Pts|
|3rd||Contessa Catherine||3001||Robin Milledge||3||-4||2||3||4||12|
|5th||Muscadet de Havelet||5500||Ben Price||7||3||-8||6||3||19|
Over the weekend of 21/23 September, Lymington Town Sailing Club hosted the Contessa 32 and Contessa 26 class National Championships regatta. Both of these classes have their roots in Lymington, having all been built by Jeremy Rogers at his yard in the town. The very first Contessa 32, Contessa Catherine, launched in 1971, is still racing successfully and was out on the water representing her home club at the event. For the Contessa 26 fleet, whose history goes back even further, this was their very first championship regatta.
Thirteen CO32's and seven 26's came to the start for the first race on Friday afternoon in a very light north westerly wind. Racing got underway after an hours postponement, waiting for the breeze to settle in, with a round the cans course along the mainland shore between Sowley and Lymington. Racing was very close, with the lead changing several times in both fleets, however, it was Ray Rouse and the crew of Blanco who were first to finish in the 32 fleet and Mike Harrison, sailing Jiminy Cricket first in the 26 fleet.
On Friday evening the crews enjoyed a drinks reception at the Jeremy Roger Ltd yard at Lymington Yacht Haven, followed by a curry supper at the Sailing Club.
Saturday turned out to be a perfect sailing day, clear blue sky, bright sunshine and a steady ten to twelve knots of wind from the north east. The LTSC race committee set a windward leeward course just to the west of the river and the fleets enjoyed some excellent racing. Race 2 for the Contessa 32 fleet saw Eldred Himsworth's Drumbeat in first place, with Blanco second and Muscadet, Ben Price and Seb Gardener, third. Drumbeat was being helmed by local sailor Ray Mitchell, a past CO32 owner and national champion. Race 3 and 4 saw normal service resumed for Blanco with wins in both races. Contessa Catherine had her best result with a second in race 2, just beating Drumbeat into third. In the Contessa 26 fleet Jiminy Cricket again prevailed, but was pushed all the way by Charlie Robert's Growler and Nick Morgan and Oli Pettifers Rooie Rakker in third. The second race for the 26's saw Rooie Rakker win, Growler second and Jiminy Cricket third.
After racing all the boats returned to the Dan Bran pontoon where all crews enjoyed a pontoon party, something of a tradition for the CO32 fleet, hosted by local Lymington boats Firefly and Growler. Dinner at the club was enjoyed by almost one hundred hungry sailors.
A prominent topic of conversation amongst the crews all weekend had been the forecast for particularly severe weather on Sunday. In complete contrast to Saturdays glorious conditions, Sunday dawned cold and grey, with heavy rain and a strong north easterly wind. A few crews thought better of it and beat a hasty retreat home, but ten 32's and four 26's ventured out to race. The race committee struggled to anchor the committee boat in the blustery conditions and returned to the river in order to switch to the clubs permanent committee boat 'Baverstock', moored just to the west of the river. Despite this, racing got underway on time, with a simple course taking the fleets on a windward leg to the east, before turning to run back to a leeward mark between the river mouth and Hurst. With winds gusting to 30knots, the downwind leg was a white knuckle ride, but with a perfect wind angle most of the 32's hoisted their heavy spinnakers and enjoyed a fast run, with speeds into double figures. Principal Race Officer, Keith Willis, sensibly decided that one round of the course in these conditions was enough and finished the race back at Baverstock. Blanco, with the series already secured, sailed a conservative race, coming fifth. Drumbeat went out to win, the only boat to carry her No. 2 genoa. Second home was Simon Pritchard's Firefly with Muscadet in third. In the 26 fleet Jiminy Cricket sealed overall victory with another first, followed by Rooie Rakker, Growler and David Houlton's Elinor.
Over the course of the weekend the fleets experienced extremes of weather and conditions, from fickle breeze to a solid force six, champagne sailing conditions on Saturday to torrential rain on Sunday. Despite this the standard of racing was excellent, with a variety of courses and well managed racing. LTSC made all competitors welcome and the galley and bar did a fine job of keeping everyone fed and watered.
By Robin Milledge