Saturday's racing began in a moderate force 2-3, but still with a big swell running as the sea state continued to ease. With a very port-biased line, Paul Smith attempted a safe start on starboard at the pin end, hoping to shut the door on four other boats going for a Port tack start, but 15 seconds before the gun, the wind swung even more so that it became impossible to start on starboard, so he had no option but to tack over onto Port and follow the rest up the beat. Austin Flather led the field initially, followed by Bob Carter and Andrew Phillips, and behind them, Smith led the chasing pack and the only two 2-up boats of Ken Harvey & Natalie Gordhandas, and Steven & Benjamin Tunnacliffe. After lap 1, Carter hit the front and Smith worked his way up to 3rd, and they eventually finished in that order.
For race 2, Carter was sharper off the line, and was leader of the pack in the early stages, but Flather and Smith were giving him a hard time on the next two reaches of the inverse 'P' course. Then unfortunately Carter got caught up with a fleet of Enterprises just preparing to start their race and was taken the wrong way for a while, allowing Flather to take over the lead. Further mis-fortune struck Carter at the same place 1 lap later when he gybed too tightly, hitting the centre mark and incurring a penalty turn which he duly did, thereby allowing Smith to take over second place. This looked like the order of the finish as the shortened course flag went up, but further drama was to unfold when Flather suffered rudder failure as it parted company with the tiller bar, ultimately causing him to retire and limp back to shore, leaving Smith to take line honours with Carter in second place.
Sunday brought fresher conditions, and race 3 saw Smith take an early lead, followed very closely by Carter and Phillips. By the windward mark, Smith had established a substantial lead as Carter tacked off too soon, having to endure the 'great circle' blues as he found himself on the wrong end of a lifter. All seemed lost with such a big deficit, but he was clearly not phased by this and threw everything into the pot to make good his mistake. By the last leeward mark, he had reduced the gap to around 4 boat lengths, and took the opposite side up the last beat to try and gain advantage, but Smith held on to win by less than 2 seconds in a nail-biting finish.
The final race 4 got even more lively as the wind picked up to a force 5 with a lumpy sea, and this time Carter edged into an early lead from Smith and Phillips once again, which he steadily increased to the end, to win by a comfortable margin.
This left Smith and Carter tying on equal points, each with 2 firsts and a second, but Carter won overall on better discard, and with it the title of Northern Champion 2004, reclaiming it from son George who was last year's winner.
|1st||Bob Carter||Grafham Water S.C.|
|2nd||Paul Smith||Beaver S.C.|
|3rd||Andrew Phillips||Filey S.C.|
|4th||Steven & Benjamin Tunnacliffe||Halifax S.C.|
|5th||Austin Flather||Beaver S.C.|
|6th||Ken Harvey & N. Gordhandas||Beaver S.C.|