Friday 24th: After a week of rain, and a forecast of more rain and 30mph winds, the traditional start of the Regatta – The River Race – was not looking good. As it happened, Friday morning started off with bright sunshine and a clear sky – but with the wind blowing strongly and more promised from the south west, a couple of expected racers dropped out, leaving 3 boats to battle it out. The beat on the broad towards the river saw Jono Brown and Chris Agar in Blood Eagle move clear and hold the lead to the finish. Fergal O’Driscoll and Gerald McCormack in State of the Harte started well, but were overtaken on the beat by David Cannell and Bill Walker in Ruby. Once clear of the entrance to the Broad, the gusts were knocking the boats about a lot as they appeared at odd directions around the trees along the river. After 68 minutes of racing, Blood Eagle crossed the finish line at the Waveney River Centre, followed 3 mins and 10 secs later by Ruby, with State of the Harte exactly 3 mins and 10 seconds behind them! A great lunch and quite a few beers were consumed by the competitors before heading back to the Broad.
Saturday, and big gusts to 35mph meant that all the boats individually decided to sit and watch everyone else at the time of the first start! So Owen Delaney the Race Officer sensibly postponed the start for 2 ½ hours, hoping the wind would drop. As the boats were rigging for the first race it seemed doubtful, but actually the wind was “only” gusting to 30 mph for the first race.
Jono Brown and Chris Agar in Blood Eagle started with lots of speed and pointing ability, but it was the local boat of Bryan and Jenny Riley in Brimstone who read the shifts at the end of the beat correctly to come out on top. A fairly short broad reach with spinnakers up saw a big gust from behind, resulting in 5 boats abreast around the gybe mark. Blood Eagle had grabbed the inside berth, and so was well away – until the actual gybe and Jono imagined he was still in a Dragon with 2 other crew members to sort the spinnaker out for him! Chris quietly voiced his opinion, while Richard Smith and Graham Reeve in Flame executed the gybe well and took off down the long broad reach / run. Jimmy Tubby and Richard Parker in Silver Fox were recovering well in the gusty conditions after Richard’s “foredeck dance” on the first beat and went past Blood Eagle to windward to take the inside berth at the leeward mark. Approaching the mark meant the front boats needing to bear away onto a by-the-lee run, allowing those behind to pick a better course – and this time there were 6 boats side-by-side into the mark, with Richard Sullivan and Richard Fryer in Clever Dick and David Best and Steve Allso in Pani Munta joining the group. The second lap saw Silver Fox trying to extend his lead, but he was chased all the way by Flame, who slipped past on the long 3rd beat. But a big gust at the end of the final run, and just getting a lee-bow on the short beat to the finish, meant Silver Fox took the first race, followed by Flame and Blood Eagle.
The second race saw a drop in the wind, back to a sensible 10-20mph, and Brimstone showed their pace by sailing away from everyone else into a good lead. Flame and Silver Fox were again battling between them for 2nd place, and Pani Munta, Blood Eagle, and Clever Dick were fighting for 4th.
The third race saw a change in the course. This was unfortunate for Chris Schonhut and Lawrence Read in Paramour, who after a mis-tied spinnaker mishap in the first race, had a superb port end start and crossed the fleet to take the lead in this race and hadn’t noted the new course. Down the short run, Blood Eagle took the leeward course with a quick spinnaker hoist and into the lead, while Brimstone took the windward course without a spinnaker into 2nd place by getting the inside berth. The 2nd beat saw Brimstone on one side of the Broad, with a good lift, and Blood Eagle on the other side just watching!
Saturday night saw a lovely meal for 24 people at RN&SYC, and the fleet were split into the Gold fleet (top 6 at that time) and the Silver fleet.
Sunday saw a complete change in wind direction, with 10-20mph blowing from the north east, so any knowledge the visitors might have gained the day before about the shifts no longer applied! Brimstone broke clear from the start, with Firebird (Simon Marfleet and Victoria Lincoln-Creese) heading for the no-wind area under the northern bank and sailing clear into 2nd place, which they held to the finish despite Pani Munta nibbling at their heels for the whole race. Then into the final race, and Pani Munta made the best start and took off into the lead, although Brimstone did manage to gybe inside them at the wing mark with just 1 lap to go to win their 4th race.
Overall, Brimstone (Bryan and Jenny Riley) easily took the win, with last years winner Richard Smith and Graham Reeve in Flame in 2nd place. Then there were 3 boats all tied on points after the discard, with Silver Fox (Jimmy Tubby and Richard Parker) grabbing 3rd place (as the only other race winner) and Blood Eagle (Jono Brown and Chris Agar) in 4th. The Silver Fleet was won by Chris Schonhut and Lawrence Read in Paramour with Mayhem (Mark Thompson and Glen Pritchard) just 1 point behind.
MANY THANKS to the Safety Team (led by Jon Ward) and the Race Team (led by Owen Delaney) for providing a great weekend of racing.