Two intrepid teams made the long journey north to Edinburgh and the Port Edgar Yacht Club for the Geckotech 707 National Championships. Both boats sported mainly family crews with Paul Gray and sons on Beaver Hunter plus a Wright/Aspinall team on Little Red Rooster.
In a stunning sailing area based alongside the three Forth bridges, the tone was set early when all entrants donned their racing T-shirts whilst the Burnham teams sported racing fleeces. It was to be a testing four days comprised of 14 WWL races and equally challenging social events.
Day one was forecast to blow hard and rain even harder. The latter was correct but the strong winds never arrived so the course was set west of the bridges with the windward mark close to the Rosyth shipyard (fortunately the new aircraft carrier left earlier in the week so it didn't cast a wind shadow). In typical with-tide starts the PRO quickly moved to black flag starts and Rooster picked up the conditions better with smooth downwind gybing to lie 8th overall after day one including an excellent fourth on the Forth in the fourth race.
Day two saw the fleet move to Dalgety Bay on the North shore, east of the bridges, the sailing ground for the remainder of the regatta. Once again there was early display and use of the black flag which helped Micky Wright to helm Rooster to a podium finish in race 7. Race 8 proved the most interesting for the whole fleet. The PRO had recorded all but 9 of the 26 boats OCS under a black flag and was working on the disqualifications when the paper with nine "safe" names was blown away in the direction of Leith and the race was abandoned...a disappointment for Rooster who were first of the nine and lying fifth when the race was abandoned. Beaver Hunter had had a better day with a couple of top ten finishes and lay just behind Rooster in the overall standings.
Day three, the winds arrived and Beaver Hunter became the stronger Burnham boat as the light-weight crew on Rooster opted for safer starts. This paid off when Beaver went for the perfect committee boat start only to be squeezed into it and to retirement from the race. Rooster kept their consistent low-teen results flowing with steady windward progress, blistering downwind surfing and effortless gybing.
The final race of the day was the inaugural Three Bridges Race as there have only ever been two bridges before. Beaver secured an excellent 4th place and Rooster, helmed by Phil Aspinall, posted a creditable 9th in the windiest conditions of the week with gusts of more than 40 knots under the bridges.
And so to the final two races on the fourth day with Rooster lying 12th and Beaver just a few points behind in 15th. The odds were on Beaver, given the strong winds and indeed their 10th and 9th were better than Rooster...but only just. Final placings were Rooster (Micky Wright, Bill Wright, Steve Wright, Eddie Aspinall & Phil Aspinall) 11th with Beaver Hunter (Paul Gray, Rob Gray, Rob Giles, Ollie Cook and Joes Rave) 14th.
The championship itself was won by SeaWord after a very close tussle including a dead heat with another local (and ex-Burnham boat) Cacciatore. The championship was well organised, enjoyable and friendly...a credit to Port Edgar Yacht Club and a challenge for the Royal Corinthian to better when the 2018 event comes to Burnham Week.
Foredeck - Little Red Rooster