June 1, 2014
Sail East 2014 got off to a spectacular start at West Mersea on Saturday and Sunday. The stiff breeze, combined with lots and lots of short legs, made for exciting racing and tested crews to their limits.
Race 1 saw the fleet zig-zag down river via a myriad of marks, before a fast run into the mouth of the River Colne, by which time Richard Matthew’s “Oystercatcher XXX” had made it to her customary place at the front of the fleet. After a short fetch, a long tight reach brought the fleet back up the Blackwater before some final legs closer to the committee boat. It was this long reach which shook up the order. Geoff Gritton’s quarter tonner “Panic” had been doing a great job to surf along with the leaders, but following a spectacular broach spent a considerable time trawling the spinnaker; the uncharitable might have thought they were fishing for their lunch, but no doubt the cooking facilities on Panic would have meant it was only sushi on offer! Meanwhile, there were no such problems for John Bollingbroke’s J-80 “JB’s 80”, who made her way through the fleet in a ball of spray to take the overall win from “Oystercatcher” and “Inn Spirit”.
Race 2 caused a bit of an upset, as two thirds of the fleet set off for the wrong mark; I think most felt it was perfectly safe to rely on Julian Lord’s Impala 28 “Scallywag” to get it right; after all, the former Sail East champion has been racing competitively at Mersea for……well, let’s just say a while! Anyway, as the mistake became apparent and boats corrected themselves this shook up the order somewhat. “JB’s 80” took advantage by sailing the correct course to take her second overall win of the day, this time from Tony and Chuffy Merewether’s Sunfast 3200 “Amazon”, and L Knifton’s Melges 24 “Brandyhole”.
Sunday’s Race 3 promised less wind, but was out to fool everyone and soon breezed up again. This time the fleet proceeded predominantly up river, and “Oystercatcher” was finally able to capitalise on her speed to win, with “JB’s 80” second to cap a fantastic weekend, and “Scallywag” third. This left JB’s 80 in first place overall for the regatta, from “Oystercatcher” and “Inn Spirit”.
In the individual classes, class 1 for the weekend was won by “Oystercatcher”, from “Brandyhole” and “Inn Spirit”. Class 2 was dominated by JB’s 80 with three wins, from Robert Leggett’s newly acquired X332 “ApeX”, and Duncan Healey’s SJ320 “Double Trouble”. In Class 3, there were plenty of “Reason’s to be Cheerful” for N Glanville, A Vince and M Heathcote, whose Smokey 25 took two fine wins to push “Scallywag” down into second place, with S Farren’s Sonata “Camel” third.
It was great to see plenty of boats on the water, and a good number of travellers, including David Appleton’s Impala “Shoestring” and Charlie Ball’s east coast classic Jones ½ tonner “Tumblehome II”, who made it up from the Medway and the Crouch respectively for their first Sail East regattas. All in all it’s not hard to remember why this is some of the most fun racing on the East Coast.
Now on to Felixstowe Regatta on 5 and 6 July. www.felixstoweregatta.co.uk
- If you did Dabchicks, you should only need to do Felixstowe or Crouch to have enough races to count
- If you didn’t do Dabchicks, then you should still have enough races to count if you do both Felixstowe and Crouch
So, plenty of reasons to see you all on the water at Felixstowe.