Autumn 2003


Commodore’s Bit
AGM & Prize Giving
Annual Dinner
Ceremony of Keys
Cruising at Chichester
Everything Comes
For Sale
Impossible Dream
Local Government
London Fun Night
News of Members
Regatta & Jazz Night
Sailing Report
SigneT Nationals
Social Calendar
Stop Press News
Tall Ships at Rouen
What Goes Around
Winter’s Coming
Working Party

The 2003 SigneT Nationals

After a three year break this years SigneT Class Nationals was held back at Ullswater Yacht Club in Cumbria. To say that everybody was pleased about this would be an understatement. Ullswater is probably the most popular venue of recent times. U.Y.C. is located on the eastern side of the lake just south of Pooley Bridge. Over the years the clubhouse has steadily been improved internally, but externally it remains very much as I first remember it.

Back then, many of us camped behind the club. It was convenient, companionable and cheap! But nowadays many of us hire cottages in the area for the duration. After last years very wet Nationals at Rutland Water Lyn swore she would never camp again. I was not about to push my luck so we re-hired the barn conversion we had used at the last Ullswater meet and shared it this year with Keith and Madeline Hatton.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the club to drop off ST369. Many other crews had arrived and the water front was crowded with SigneTs in various stages of rigging. Over Easy went together like clockwork and the loading of her new red spinnaker finished her preparation. Lyn and I then drifted into the bar to catch up with some old friends at the club. As soon as Keith and Madeline's dinghy, ST858, was also rigged we all drove up to the farm to check into our cottage and decide which pub to go to for dinner.

Sunday was a fairly leisurely day with just one practice race, late in the morning, to worry about. When we arrived at the club the last few SigneTs where rigging and everybody was staring at the sky and talking weather. If you've ever been to Cumbria you'll know that it has its own weather logic and if you don't like what you’re seeing, stick around, it'll change within five minutes. Unfortunately, this year, hot was to be the order of the week with precious little wind to talk of. After a bit of a chat it was decided that Madeline would helm 'Over Easy' with myself as crew and a Paxton Lakes helm called Ben would helm 'The Saint' crewed by Keith. Why didn't K&M sail together I hear you ask? Well …. You'll have to ask them sometime! This year, and just to confuse the issue, U.Y.C. had introduced three new marks Thwaite, Lodge and Bay which the race officer immediately put into use. Madeline took one look at my nice red spinnaker and decided not to use it. I think she was so used to Keith's blue one that the sight of all that red fazed her. Nevertheless we scored a 5th place, so not too bad. The race was won by Richard Cannon in ST368, with Roy Melsom 2nd in ST761 and Joyce Cowern 3rd in ST907.

Sunday night passed pleasantly in the Brackenrigg Inn at Watermillock overlooking the lake.

On Monday morning eighteen SigneTs had registered for the Nationals. The day started with the official race briefing at 10:00'ish followed by a postponed Race 1 which eventually got underway at 11:30'ish. It was raced around the aforementioned cans in pretty light airs, but this time I did get to play with the new spinnaker and we came 4th. The race was won by Richard Cannon in ST368, with Paul Nicholson in ST530 2nd and Tim Wilde in ST847 was 3rd.

On Monday afternoon a few people went to see our most recent class builder's facilities at Bowness-on-Windermere. To get there we opted to drive over the Kirkstone Pass which is always pretty spectacular. I've written about Fyne Boats before so I won't bore you but needless to say we had a great afternoon with Hugh, one of the owners. Afterwards we headed back to U.Y.C. for a combined cheese and wine bash in the clubhouse with the Tempest fleet, also at Ullswater for their National's. It was a very social affair and enabled us to renew acquaintances with many of the Tempest crews that we have sailed with before at Ullswater. I seem to remember that far more wine (and beer) was drunk than cheese eaten!

Tuesday had Race 2 scheduled for 10:30am and Race 3 at 1:30pm. Both races were raced around similar shaped but longer courses which took in the marks at Brunskill, Waterside, Lodge and. We didn't have such a good day on Tuesday and only scored a 9th and 8th respectively. Race 2 was won by

Roy Melsom in ST761, Paul Nicholson in ST530 was 2nd and Tim Wilde in ST847 was 3rd. Race 3 was won by Paul Nicholson in ST530, Richard Cannon in ST368 was 2nd and Tim Wilde in St847 was 3rd. On Tuesday evening we had an excellent meal at the Queens Head just outside Pooley Bridge and then went on to the SigneT quiz night which was held in U.Y.C for the combined fleets.

Wednesday was a lay day but the SigneT fleet was invited to participate in the Tempest class 'Round the Island' race at 1:00pm. This is a long distance job taking in the whole length of the lake … not for the faint hearted and spinnakers are virtually mandatory if you want to get back at a Christian hour. Keith had to drive down to Chorley on business but got back in time to participate. The girls elected for a bout of retail therapy so Roy Melsom and I took them back to Bowness. We started at the Steam Boat Museum and then drifted into town. Several clothes shops later we drove around to Hawkshead for more of the same. Eventually we ended up in Ambleside for one last thrash and then back over the Kirkstone to Ullswater. On the way we passed Keith out on the lake returning from the 'Islands' at the Glenridding end of the lake. He had a long way to go! On Wednesday evening a combined BBQ, again with the Tempest fleet, was held on the lawn in front of the clubhouse. Even more falling down water was consumed this time as both fleets really got into the spirit of the week. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! Just after the Trout starter was served Keith sailed in, he'd finally made it. Gammon, sausage, salad and gateau completed an excellent BBQ.

Thursday had Race 4 scheduled for 10:30am and the Crew Invitation race at 1:30pm.

We scored a 7th in Race 4. It was won by Paul Nicholson in ST530, Roy Melsom was 2nd in ST761 and John Miller was 3rd in FW643 (I should explain that John's Fleetwind is the last of several that used to sail with the SigneT's. He now sails with us and we count him as a SigneT. In actual terms SigneT and Fleetwind PYS numbers are so similar as to not worry about). The Crews race is mainly for the crews who do not normally helm a dinghy. Madeline crewed for me and even popped the spinnaker at one point. Short of the line we waited for the last of the youngsters to go across. Well you can't have enthusiastic pre teens coming last, can you? On Thursday evening the SigneT Class Owners Association AGM was held in the clubhouse. You don't want to hear about that but it follows the usual format of reports and elections. Richard Cannon's financial report is always worthy of note, mainly because he's the only one who understands it ! No, I jest, but it's a bit like the racing results at Aquarius. Does anyone else really understand how the results turn out the way that they do?

Friday had Race 5 scheduled for 10:30am and the Single Handed race at 1:30pm.

Another triangular course and we managed a 5th. It was won by Richard Cannon in ST386, Paul Nicholson was 2nd in ST530 and Roy Melsom was 3rd in ST761. Madeline didn't fancy the single handed race so I did it. Ironically the wind got up and we had the best sail of the week. John Pratt came 1st in ST872, Roy Melsom came 2nd in ST761 and Joyce Cowern came 3rd in ST907. I came 5th. At 7:30pm on Friday night the National's prize giving was held in the clubhouse followed by a disco for the youngsters. The overall winner and 2003 National Champion with 6 points, was Paul Nicholson in ST530. 2nd with 8 points was Richard Cannon in ST368. 3rd with 14 points was Roy Melsom in ST761. Madeline and I came 8th with 24 points.

On Saturday morning we checked out of our accommodation and went down to the club to pack up the dinghies. U.Y.C's family week, combined with the Miracle fleets Nationals, was getting underway. It was chaos on the waterfront. After a spot of brunch Lyn and I started south while Keith and Madeline made for Warrington to visit with relatives. The venue for the 2004 SigneT Nationals is rumored to be Chichester Y.C. Should be good!

Mike (Over Easy) Baker

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