This years SigneT class nationals was held at Ullswater YC from 6th to 12th August. Three AQSC boats made the trip up to Cumbria. ST368 (June) with Richard Cannon & Rob Britton and ST 924 (Sunset) with John Panting & Frank Goodall and ST858 (The Saint) with Keith Hatton and me, Mike Baker. Our party included Madeline, Lyn and Roy Melsom who was crewing ST761 with Pat Overs.
As in the past we all shared a farm cottage conveniently located a couple of miles from UYC. This provides a very comfortable home from home for the week’s sailing. I think, years ago now, we were amongst the first to hire one of Nigel and Amanda’s newly completed farm building conversions and ever since, whenever we go up to Cumbria, we always stay with them. They have an intimate knowledge of the area and can always point us to the best pubs with the best food. Amanda says it’s all about knowing which chef is where on a given night. Can’t argue with her, we’ve never had a bad dinner yet.
We arrived on Saturday just as Ullswater Week was getting underway. The camp site was heaving, the waterfront packed with craft and the car park full to capacity. ST858 had already been offloaded so we made tracks to the farm for a shower and some falling down water before dinner.
Ullswater is one of the northern lakes and lies on a NE axis. The nearest big town is Penrith to the east, on the other side of the M6. The two big towns on the lake are Pooley Bridge at the top end and Glenridding at the base which provides access to Ambleside and Windermere. The wind on the lake varies but during the week was predominately from the SW with strengths from gusting 5 to virtually 0.
Sunday required us to be at the club at 2pm for a briefing with the practice race due to start after the last UYC weekend regatta race. The practice race is all about orientating oneself to the clubs fixed marks out on the lake, some of which are quite a way apart.
All have names such as Beauthorn, Brunskill, Lodge, Harbour and Thwaite. One you would recognise is Sharrow Bay, home to the famous hotel that is generally credited with inventing sticky toffee pudding. It’s also a chance to ensure everything’s working okay on the boats.
Some 15 SigneT’s came to Ullswater with 14 entered. The practice race winner was ST847 with ST368 2nd ST858 6th and ST924 9th.
Monday’s programme included two races. The 1st championship race at 1pm and the 2nd
at 2:30pm. The wind was a good 3-
Tuesdays programme included two races. The wind was a good 3-
Wednesday was a lay day. There was a chance, for those that wanted to go and explore the stunning surrounding countryside. Lyn and I took off for the Lakeland Artist Exhibition at Grasmere which involves driving to Glenridding and then up over the Kirkstone Pass, an experience in itself.
One of our SigneTs entered the UYC long distance race which starts on the club line,
goes down water to Norfolk Island off Glenridding and then returns up the lake to
Pooley Bridge and then back to the club. Takes about 2½ hours in a fast boat. In
a SigneT anything up to 4 hours. In the evening almost everybody decamped to an Italian
restaurant in Penrith for a ‘slap-
Thursdays programme included the 5th championship race at 11am followed by the crew invitation race at 1pm. As the name implies this is were the boat crews change ends and the skipper gets to play up the sharp end for a while. It also gives the crews a one time chance to express their views on the spinnaker handling abilities of their skippers. It’s called payback!. The 5th race was won by ST761, ST368 2nd, ST858 10th and ST924 14th. The Crew Invite was won by ST522 with ST368 3rd and ST858 4th. ST924 didn’t compete for some reason. During the afternoon Lyn and Madeline took themselves off to The Sharrow Bay Hotel for tea. They said it was a real experience and brought us back a box full of cream cakes they couldn’t manage! The associations AGM was held at the clubhouse in the evening.
Fridays programme included the 6th championship (RNLI) race at 11am. A healthy donation to the RNLI is required from each boat before entering this race. The race start was long delayed because there was virtually no wind and even when it did get going it was a bit of a drifter; it was shortened to 3/4 a lap that took 100 minutes. The leaders were almost stationary a few yards from the finish line while the tailenders were catching up in some wind that was filling in. The 6th race was won by ST530, ST368 6th, ST858 14th and ST924 11th.
This is usually followed by the single handed race but this was cancelled due to the lateness of the hour and the lack of wind.
After all the dinghies had been recovered and packed up onto their road trailers the prize giving was held in the club’s committee room at around 6:00pm. The winning boat was ST530 with ST368 2nd, ST858 8th and ST924 12th.
Looking back most days were overcast and/or wet. It wasn’t that cold but there was precious little sunshine. The winds were generally good apart from the last day which was a tedious drifter. The accommodation was excellent, the food was tasty (especially the clam chowder at The Crown & Mitre Inn at Bampton) and the beer excellent. Ullswater is still my favourite inland sailing venue by a long way. Already looking forward to our next visit.
Additional: UYC is the RYA club of the year. Quite an accolade when you think how many sailing clubs there are around the country. They have big development plans and while we were there we had an opportunity to see the architects plans and drawings for the planned new clubhouse. It was on two levels, elliptical in shape, a lot of glass looking out over the water. The lower floor was ‘wet’ comprising changing rooms, showers and storage. The upper level was ‘dry’ including lounge, bar, restaurant and meeting rooms. Although extremely modern in concept I think it will blend into its surroundings very well. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished article, I think it’s going to be stunning!
Mike (Temporarily ‘The Saint’) Baker