The Squib Gold Cup 10 May 2008
The improved format of the event, the strongest and largest fleet in several years, combined with the perfect weather forecast, were the ingredients for a close and competitive weekend and the participants were not to be disappointed.
Saturday saw courses being set along the river under the careful control of RCYC Commodore and Race Officer for the weekend, Paul Noonan. A slack tide and light winds required an excellent start to be made to ensure clean air to the windward mark and that was best achieved by Paul and Sarah Buckley 709 Electra, who led all the way to the finish line.
The tide had turned for Race 2 and the mellee for the start resulted in a general recall and appropriate use of the black flag for the restart. Even so, the importance of the start proved too great for Simon and Sarah Butterworth 714 Trojan, as they edged over the line early and were thereby left to watch the rest of the fleet, led to the finish by Peter Marchant and Paul Austin 801 Tears for Fears .
The Race Officer went straight to the black flag for Race 3 as the ebb tide strengthened and this time the fleet got away cleanly and were led home by Nigel & Jack Grogan 105 Helmut Shoeting. The Grogans celebrated their return to Burnham and first position overall at the end of Day 1 as the event relaxed into the evening’s Shorts & Wellies party.
The winds stayed in the East and were lighter for Day 2 which once again saw the introduction of black flag starts. Race 4 was won by the new partnership of Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey 819 Lady Penelope who clearly had their light wind tactics in good order. Race 5 highlighted the over-confidence of a few boats, Phil Aspinall and Julian Briggs 72 Guy Fawkes incurred the black flag as they pushed to better their 7th place in the previous race then Lady Penelope incorrectly opted for the south bank for the downwind leg and promptly fell out of the top 10. The race was won by the light-wind maestro Chris Goodfellow and crew Martin Hipsey 761 Trophoblast.
The final race of the day saw another black flag, this time for Bill Jones and Brian Tucker 762 Patrick. Chris Goodfellow used the south bank to good effect on the first downwind leg, so Paul Buckley went south on the second leg and went hard aground resulting in a 17th position and a poor end to the day. The race was won by Robert Coyle and Mel Titmus 823 Humphrey. The evening dinner was full of talk and reflections on the competitiveness of the series evidenced by a different winner to every race and only a few points separating the Day 2 leader, Nigel Grogan, from the rest.
The closeness of the points combined with the single discard rule meant that all boats were out for Day 3 and the final two races. The wind had shifted more to the North so the courses were set in the mouth of the Roach against a strengthening ebb tide. The tide ensured that the black flag remained stowed and the fleet charged across to the Foulness bank to minimise tidal effect and to make the tack line for the windward mark. Foul tide short tacking favoured the local boats although Paul Buckley showed the fleet a clean pair of heels, leading Chris Goodfellow and Peter Marchant to the line.
There were still several boats in contention for the Gold Cup at the gun of the 8th and final race with Peter Marchant in prime position needing only 3rd or better to take the honours. However it was another great start and excellent teamwork from the Buckleys that gave them a clean sweep of wins for Day 3, their third race victory and, most importantly, the Gold Cup. Nigel Grogan was 3rd home to secure the Silver Cup leaving Peter Marchant to reflect on echoes of the 2007 Nationals as his 6th place left him in third overall.
The improvements through competition and training showed clear dividends for the local fleet although East Coast visitors and previous winners, David White and Pete Ballam 83 Easy and Pam and Max Evans 838 Maximus pushed them hard to finish in 6th and 8th respectively and they vowed to return with reinforcements next year.
So, the Gold Cup is fittingly back in its Burnham home for this 40th anniversary year of the Squib and the Buckleys in Electra have firmly established themselves as key contenders not only for the Eastern Championships later in May but also the Nationals at Lowestoft in June.