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Dinghy Show17 Dec
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24-Hour Race 2001

Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th September 2001

The Corinthians sailed at Southport and caught a couple of crabs!

Little did we realise when the intrepid Corinthian sailors arrived at Southport and struggled to erect the tents in the dark, in driving rain, and a Force 5 wind, that the wind would increase by the next day. The race started at noon, and Ben Smith and Claire Bennett were the first to set off in Flight 3. The overall triangular course gave a reach to the first jibe mark (set at a particularly gusty point) a fetch to the next mark and a beat back to the final mark and back onto a reach to the start. The beat was the shortest part of the course. The plan was to change crews every two hours, but careful planning was soon shot to pieces as exhausted crews fell ashore; and the less experienced crews wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valour and remained ashore checking times and laps and providing support, encouragement, cups of tea and the occasional Mars bar.

Entry 32: LCSC Enterprise "Otazell"

The wind remained at a stonking Force 5 for the whole 24 hours and the guys in the Clubhouse recorded a maximum of 57 knots in one gust, not surprisingly it knocked over the whole fleet, not for the first time!

To say that the race was eventful was perhaps understating it. In lap 1 the bottom rudder pintle came off and Ben Smith and Claire Bennett had to be towed back having made a brilliant start in Flight 3. It was bolted back on properly. In lap 3 the tiller snapped and it was swapped for a spare and Val Nedyalkov, Jon Smith, and Ben Smith worked their socks off to repair it quickly. At around 20.00 two of the three screws holding the gudgeon onto the rudder had fallen out, so new ones were put in and the centreboard grip was tightened as it had kept coming up.

At about 23.00 the mast ripped the front of the foredeck off. Jon and Paul Downes’ timing was excellent, as they were coming in for a pit stop they were caught by a gust and fell in to windward. Otazell turned turtle and as the estuary was only four or so feet deep (the water in most places came up to one’s chest), everyone thought **** we have lost the mast, but the capsize had resulted in ripping the front of the foredeck off. The fitting appeared to have been attached with screws too short to reach the wood underneath. This resulted in all the pressure on the fibreglass deck, it was a miracle that it had not ripped off previously and elsewhere on the course, as this was not the first capsize by a long chalk. If it had happened elsewhere on the course we would have had to have a tow back and valuable points would have been deducted. Thanks to Wayne Hanson, his power tools, and his determination not to give up just because there was a minor hiccough, the repair team of Jon, Wayne, Hugh and Ben screwed the stemhead on with proper screws, glued the piece off the foredeck back with 5 minute epoxy, taped around the edges to seal it and Otazell sailed off again.

During the afternoon there was a Commodore’s reception, so I sneaked away from the mayhem to make my hellos, the only Commodore present in full sailing gear! I ignored the sign pointing out that such dress was not admitted and duly made my apologies to the Commodore, Rick Hurst, who graciously pointed out that the objective of the day was to race and had I been out or was I looking forward to going out soon? Having looked out of the window and watched a dinghy pitchpole I need to consider my response, I grabbed an orange juice, only to be told that it was a Bucks Fizz! While I downed that, Rick recalled fond memories of the London Corinthian mentioning that many years ago their members had repaired to the Corinthian after the Boat Show to plot improvements and marketing of the 24 hour race. Having circulated amongst the throng of Commodores briefly and with considerable self sacrifice I rejected a second Bucks Fizz, made my apologies, and rushed back to the fray.

While sailing during daylight was testing enough, at night it was unbelievable; screaming along, pitch darkness, shadows of other boats in front, alongside, overtaking (grr) and ahead; and somewhere out there was a light signifying the next mark, cold, wet, cleats that would not cleat, chafed hands and, for those of us who wear glasses, a constant misty fug caused by bucket loads of spray rushing into and over the boat. The self bailers were open for the whole of the race, and it was an achievement if the boat was handed over dry. One dinghy misjudged the hazards and sailed straight up onto one of the two islands, all the spectators could see was a host of lights and first aid crews searching for missing crews. A few dinghies tried sailing through a groyne with equally spectacular results. Many dinghies ended up being blown onto a lee shore and had to be towed off, and most of the dinghies sported additional burgees and cross-trees festooned with long green strands of weeds, our burgee ended up at a rakish ninety degrees to the mast. By the end of the 24 hours, various people were wandering around with bandaged arms and not a few black eyes and scratches. Our team was remarkably successful in staying out of trouble and had minimal bruises, although some of us are definitely creaking! As teams arrived back for change-overs the question was usually ‘How many times did you capsize’ rather than ‘Did you capsize?’ At one changeover, however, the message to the next crew was 'Watch out where you step, we have a couple of crabs that have hitched a lift.' Clearly, life at the bottom of the estuary was getting a little boring. Paul Summers brought his super camera, so we should have some pretty spectacular shots of the fun.

It was unbelievably windy, but as dawn came up it seemed that the wind was beginning to abate - but not by a lot. It became clear, however, in the final few hours of racing that we were being hotly pursued by Birmingham University Sailing Club, so Jon decided to change the sailing order, and send out our heavier and more experienced helms for the final laps. It paid off, Val and Ben Luddington sailed the final two hours and we beat Birmingham by a lap average of 1 second a lap despite over two and a half hours of pit stops. Out of the 63 teams that started (70 were registered) we came 38th, and Ben and Jon are already hatching plots to sail again with a newer boat! In 1986 London Corinthians won the event, so we have a target for next year.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend despite crawling into a sleeping bag knowing that someone was going to kick you awake at some ungodly hour to repeat the exercise. The West Lancashire Yacht Club organisation was utterly superb. The event went like clockwork, there was food available throughout the 24 hours, the bacon baps were out of this world, (one of the kitchen assistants told me that they had cooked 100lbs of bacon by 10.00am the following morning). There was a free beer tent and a disco on Saturday night. Unfortunately, the disco was not well attended as those who had sailed during the day were too shattered to go to it, and those who were expecting to sail during the night tried to get their heads down before they had to be out on the water. As we packed up to go a couple of rueful sailors bemoaned the fact that they had been deprived of the opportunity of boozing in the beer tent as much as they would have liked.

The objective of the weekend was to finish the course, we did that, and everyone pulled together with remarkable team spirit, led magnificently by Jon who got us all together and chivvied us along when we needed it. After working out who was sailing, and when, extra laurels should go, particularly, to Jon, Val and Ben Luddington who, between them, were out on the water for 20 of the 24 hours! Each lap was 1.22 miles and altogether we sailed 82 miles!

The skill endurance and courage that the whole team collectively showed could be used usefully in the current world crisis (although we could do with asking the Gods for a little less wind next time).

Beverley Lawrence Beech - Commodore

Roll of Honour:

Jon Smith - Team Leader
Beverley Lawrence Beech
Hugh Miller
Claire Bennett
Valentin Nedyalkov
Edmund Chadwick
Victoria Piper
Paul Downes
Paul Summers
Wayne Hanson
Ben Smith
Ben Luddington
Georgios Tetradis

Corinthian supporters:

Irene (Georgios’s girlfriend) and Georgios’s cousin.


How it was shaping up before the event...

This year the London Corinthians return to the Southport 24 Hour Race. This is the largest endurance dinghy race in the UK. Teams from sailing clubs and universities all over the UK sail laps around the marine lake at Southport for 24 hours. The club Enterprise "Otazell" has been prepared for the race. 

There are six pairs who will be taking shifts sailing the boat throughout the 24hours. Unlike offshore racing, the off-watch sailors don't have to sit in a wet cold boat, they can watch the race from the comfort of the bar! Raising a team of six pairs who can compete at this level is an achievement for LCSC and shows how the dinghy fleet has developed this year.

The Team:

Beverley Beech
Claire Bennett
Edmund Chadwick
Paul Downes
Ben Luddington
Hugh Miller
Val Nedyalkov
Vicky Piper
Ben Smith
Jon Smith
Paul Summers
Georgios Tetradis

For further details about the race and to see the hourly situation reports, visit the race website:

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 26 Sep 2001