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Birkett 2012 Racing Report

Birkett 2012 Racing Report

 50th Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy at Ullswater Yacht Club


Albacore sailor Judy Armstrong made history at Ullswater Yacht Club on July 7 and 8 by becoming the first female helm to win the 50th Lord Birkett Memorial Trophy.

Judy, from Scaling Dam Sailing Club, crewed by her husband Paul, won the Saturday race on handicap and was second on Sunday to take ‘The Golden One’ which attracted an entry of 214 boats.

The event was first raced in 1963 in honour of Lord Norman Birkett who died two days after making a successful speech in the House of Lords, which prevented Ullswater from becoming a reservoir.

Every year since then, the club has held the prestigious two-day long distance race in which boats sail the full length of the lake and back, in memory of the ‘Saviour of Ullswater.’

They sail past Kailpot Crag, which bears a plaque in his memory and more than seven miles to Glenridding at the other end of the lake in the shadow of Birkett Fell.

On Saturday, the winds were light and variable and from the North and race officer David Clarke set a course with a beat to Pooley Bridge, round two marks, followed by a run to the Glenridding end, round Norfolk Island and back.

The 200+ boats on the start line across the width of the lake made a magnificent sight for the 120 passengers on board the Ullswater ‘Steamer’ Raven on the first-ever special Birkett trip. The Raven ‘steamed’ ahead of the race and stopped near Kailpot Crag. The racers had to pass between the slate ‘Lord Birkett’ plaque and the Raven and the 50th boat through received a new trophy.

The wind stayed light and fickle for the rest of the race and although the 49ers crossed the finishing line first, it was the Albacore of the Armstrongs that took the race on handicap, followed by David and Lynn Lawson from Bassenthwaite SC in a GP14, with a Wayfarer sailed by David Chandler and Adam Savage, from Tewkesbury SC, third.

Sunday brought every race officer’s nightmare - a flat calm with the occasional puff of wind from the North. With a six-hour time limit for the race, the decision was taken not to race the full length of the lake but to Kailpot Crag and back.

It was a reduced fleet that took to the water; the lack of wind made starting difficult and the black flag finally came out. When the boats got away, the fleet slowly made their way to the top of the lake, then back past the club.

Again the 49er got a good lead, but the slower handicap boats were far enough ahead at the finish. The Armstrong’s Albacore was again up there and came second on handicap with Chris and Laura Pickles in an RS200 from Yorkshire Dales SC taking first for race two. Fiona and Steve Tylecote of Rutland SC in an RS400 were third.

The Armstrongs had a first and second to clinch the trophy with Judy becoming the first ever female helm to win.  With a fourth and a first, the Pickles in an RS200 were second overall and the GP14 sailed by the Lawsons was third.

Judy and Paul Armstrong joined an elite group of Birkett trophy winners. Twenty-five former winners got together for the first time to take part in the 50th Birkett celebrations and were honoured at a Commodore’s and President’s reception at the club on the Friday before the event.

They included Ewen Stamp who crewed the winning boat in the inaugural Birkett in 1963. Ewen crewed for the late Robin Steavenson of Tynemouth SC in an International 14. He was joined by several three-times winners, including Robin’s son Howard,  and record breaker Lester Noble of UYC, who has won the trophy six times helming a 49er.

Malcolm and Judith Lawson, former UYC members who won in 1972 in a Tempest, flew in from Florida for the celebrations.

The former winners all received a commemorative piece of exclusive artwork featuring the lake, all the club buoys and some of its iconic landmarks. The map was also turned into a postcard and given as a memento to every competitor.

Past winners taking part this year had gold championship-style discs on their sails to identify them. They included Ewen Stamp, of Royal Harwich YC, now in his seventies, who raced a Solo and who became a true ‘Birkett hero’ by coming 12th overall, the top placed former winner.

The prize giving on Sunday also made history with Tom Birkett, grandson of Lord Norman Birkett, presenting some of the trophies. Tom had never been to Ullswater before and had no idea what ‘the Birkett’ means to racing sailors. Other trophies were presented by Lady Lonsdale on behalf of event sponsor Lonsdale Estates, a representative of Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and Dalemain Mansion.


Overall winners:

  1. Judy and Paul Armstrong, Albacore, Scaling Dam SC, 3 points
  2. Chris and Laura Pickles, RS200, Yorkshire Dales SC, 5 points
  3. David and Lynn Lawson, GP14, Bassenthwaite SC, 9 points
  4. Phil and Naomi Smith, RS200, Bassenthwaite SC, 24 points
  5. Anthony Dawson, Laser, UYC, 28 points
  6. Richard Critchley and Lisa Woods, Enterprise, Pilkington SC, 29 points
  7. Tony Woods, OK, Etherow Country Park SC, 30 points
  8. Robert Johnston, Streaker, Blackpool & Fleetwood SC, 35 points
  9. Dan Phillips, Streaker, Ripon SC, 40 points
  10. Matt Hocking and Ruth Holmes, Albacore, South Cerney SC, 44 points


Class prizes:

Hunter Europa: Sam Harding and Richard Sealby, UYC, 26th

Cruiser: Richard Robinson, Alan Robinson, Chris Stanbrook, Sonata, Leigh & Lowton SC, 31st

Fireball: Jonathan Carter and Gareth Wilkinson, Chelmarsh SC, 33rd

F15: Michael and John Thompson, Chew Valley SC, 38th

Laser: Anthony Dawson, UYC, 5th

Merlin Rocket: Chris Robinson and crew, 15th

Open Canoe: Keith Morris, OCSG, 52nd

Phantom: Paul Souter, Scaling Dam SC, 49th

RS200: Chris and Laura Pickles, Yorkshire Dales SC, 2nd

RS400: Fiona and Steve Tylecote, Rutland SC, 19th

Tempest: Graham Donkin and David Lyons, UYC, 32nd

Enterprise: Richard Critchley and Lisa Woods, Pilkington SC, 6th

GP14: David and Lynn Lawson, Bassenthwaite SC, 3rd


Ullswater ‘Steamers’ Trophy (50th boat past Birkett plaque):

Peter Nelson, RS600, Northampton SC


Dalemain Trophy (Visiting club with most entries):

Scaling Dam SC


Hustler Schools Trophy (Best UYC Under 18):
Tom Neilson, Laser


Mike Barnard Trophy (Best UYC Under 21):
Jamie Neilson, RS200


Barclays Bank Trophy ( Best place UYC):
Anthony Dawson, Laser


Tortoise Trophy (Lowest placed boat completing both races):
David, Anne and Sophie Nicklin, Spring 25, UYC

Report by Sue Giles




Posted on 10 July 2012 (Archive on 07 August 2012)
Posted by 1047  Contributed by 1047


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first class report
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What fun!