Twenty Skippers, the greatest number for many years entered the event from six different clubs in the Eastern Region, however on the day seventeen skippers came to the start line, they were
|Geoff Josey||Broads||176||Kantun S|
|Jim LaRoche||Coalhouse Fort||55||Britpop|
|John Hanton||Broads||47||Corbie 1|
The forecast that everyone expected of gale force winds and rain courtesy of storm ‘Freya’ failed to materialise at the start, but came in later in the day so as not to disappoint! For the most part it was mild with the occasional shower in fact typical NMYC Open meeting weather!
The race team consisted of Vinnie Zammit as R.O., course setter and start line judge, assisted by Alan Bright as assistant R.O. with responsibility for the finish line, Robert Owen as observer and Beryl Bright as Scorer assisted by Nigel Featherstone and his box of tricks!
After the briefing everyone was looking at the weather and wondering where the wind had gone. However racing got underway promptly with a testing course of a long beat to windward followed by a port rounding to a short wing leg then another port rounding with a long run to a leeward gate, with two laps prescribed and a final beat after rounding the leeward gate for the second time to a finish line 2/3rds up the beat.
The first race due to a lack of wind took 25 minutes to complete and was won by Colin Goodman, Jim LaRoche in second and Terry Burton third. Race two was shortened to a single lap but if anything there was even less wind with the inevitable holes and took just as long to complete, This time won by Terry Burton followed by Colin Goodman. If anyone had their crystal ball it would have foretold that these were the skippers to beat.
After just two races it was decide to have an early lunch in the hope that the forecast winds would materialise.
After lunch the weather was looking better but in order that a reasonable series of races could be completed all future races were kept to one lap only, a decision which enabled a series of 14 races to be completed.
The racing continued in a very light hearted manner with skippers in general being very courteous both on and off the water. With so many boats racing together and in the increasing winds there was always the possibility of boats broaching especially in the latter races, the fact that there were no serious mishaps is evidence of the skippers sportsmanship. There were several instances of leading boats upon rounding the leeward gate having to negotiate slower boats still running down, especially when the lead boats invariably went onto the favoured port tack for the finish line whilst the running boats were on starboard and therefore technically had right of way. Almost without exception the running skippers were seen to change course away from the leading boats in order that either boats race was not affected by a collision.
As a builder myself I noted how John Hanton was putting together a series of good races with his wooden Corbie 1 to end up in 4thplace overall.
The starts were generally well disciplined with no skippers trying a port end start, which with 17 boats might have been a bit risky! During the afternoons session Graham Nelson who was not having a good day with Vinnies ‘Britpop’ dropped out after race 5 and helped out as an observer. A few skippers changed down to No.2 rig as the wind increased, including the eventual winner Colin Goodman. However he soon changed back up when his results started to suffer in races 9 and 10 when he recorded his worst finish positions of 4thand 9th.
The event was stopped after 14 races shortly after 3.00 pm when the light started to fail making it difficult for judges to determine sail numbers on the water.
After a quick clear up the prize giving took place with Colin Goodman getting the Yare Cup and a bottle of wine with the next five skippers getting a bottle of wine. All skippers were voluble in their appreciation of the event and to NMYC for hosting a good day.
11 of the original 15 entries turned up at Heybridge to be greeted by glorious sunshine and no wind, but closer to the start time the Race Officer, Graham Childs, was able to set a course along the left hand bank for the initial race. The wind increased slightly but kept swinging , and the course was moved to a diagonal from the far bay to hut corner but the wind did not co-operate requiring several alterations to the mark positions, and by lunch time another course had to be laid along the Club side bank. The wind increased to an unsteady force 1-2 and racing continued.
As the day progressed a pattern of results emerged with Colin Goodman stringing together a run of wins to take first place, two of the visitors filled the podium, Chris Harris second and Trevor Binks third.
Thirteen races where completed without recourse to the Protest Committee, thanks in large part to the efforts of Graham , the race office, and Roy the boatman. The smooth running of the event was facilitated by the scorers Anne Dennis and Lyn Childs, and the observers Keith, Keith and Toby who gave up their racing to assist.
Special mention in dispatches to Barry who kept marking the position of the far starting line buoy by attaching himself to it so everyone else could avoid it.
The Oliver Lee Trophy for IOMs was hosted by Chelmsford MYC on 6 January. Congratulations to Colin Goodman who triumphed over some strong competition on the day. Race report to follow.