Report of the OGA East Coast Race, 2017
Saturday 15 July, 2017 saw the 54th running of the East Coast Old Gaffers Race, at Brightlingsea, with an excellent small boat event at the same venue on Sunday. There were 31 boats entered of whom 28 started the race on a day which at the 8am Race Briefing looked as if it might add to the ulcers the Race Officer acquired during last year’s event.
Fortunately, the wind gods were kinder this year and as the first start time of 10am approached, a gentle but steady breeze arrived and continued to increase throughout the race with some gusts of 5-6 Beaufort (apparently, at the far reaches of the course).
Different to many previous years the start ordering had the main body of the gaff rigged fleet off first followed by the Bermudans with the smacks and other work boats in the last start at 10.20. The gaff and working boat starts were quite interesting to say the least, with a number of boats on course side at the gun, but all successfully negotiated the remainder of their class, returning through the line to start again (accompanied by some discussion between the crews!) Best start of the day to Nigel Waller in 'Fanny of Cowes' who thought four seconds after the gun was not close enough! Well, it was close enough to ensure that he won Lower Handicap Workboats Class.
The fleet surged off to Colne Bar, with some requiring tacks to stay the correct side of marks in the Colne channel and very soon they were lost to sight from the Bateman’s Tower Race Office, although progress was reported by 'Tempus' and 'Tornado Rib' out on the course.
With a chance to catch our breath and have a well earned sip of tea in the race office (or even a nap for one poor overworked volunteer) it seemed an age before we were advised that the leaders had rounded the furthest mark in the Wallet and were on the way back. A fierce tussle ensued between the leading smacks with 'Ethel Alice' choosing an inshore course to catch up and overtake her rivals, storming on to the finish to win The Higher Handicap Workboats Class.
But not before 'Dirty Girty', crewed by a very able group of youngsters (led by Ed Roberts) had just pipped the 'Crow' (crewed by the young at heart Bob Berk and crew) to the line. Sadly for the youngsters the handicapper had obviously taken age into account, so their winning margin was not enough to overhaul 'Crow' who herself lost out to the Andrew Wolstenholme designed Kite called 'Kate' (skippered by Euan Seel) which won Class 4 and the Overall Winners Pennant for fastest boat on corrected time.
Mark Butler’s 'Rainbow' had another excellent race with an ‘All Butler’ crew winning Class 2 (Gaffers) and the Commodore’s Pennant for the fastest OGA member and 'Gromit' skippered by Trevor Sanderson took the honours in Class 3 (Spirit of Tradition).
An excellent evening ensued at Colne Yacht Club with a packed room for the Prize Giving and a lovely meal provided by Colne YC and their caterers.
Visit the East Coast Racing page for more information about racing in general on the East Coast.
Sunday Small Boat Race
As has become traditional a race was held on Sunday for smaller Open Boats which this year had an excellent entry of 11 boats, from as far away as Market Harborough, Southwold and North Norfolk with our usual support from local boats. The race was started at 12.30 from the River Colne close to Batemans Tower, beating upriver to the channel mark off Alresford Creek, followed by a run back to Pyefleet rounding the last mooring. The fleet crossed the Colne and sailed on into Brightlingsea Creek, through the harbour before turning and beating back to the finish off the Colne Yacht Club jetty. The last boat home completed the course in under three hours.
The weather was very kind with enough wind for an excellent race and the competitors made the most of it with some close quarters keen racing. The entries included Smack Boats, a Winkle Brig, a Peter Boat but also more unusually a gaff rigged Wayfarer and a lug rigged 505 – who knows where future developments of gaff rigged dinghies might head?
Small Boats Race Results
1st 'Faith', Alistair Mackenzie
2nd 'Papa Little', Will Roberts (gaff rigged Wayfarer)
3rd 'Summer', John Owles
4th 'Teal', Mike Dixon
1st 'JSB', Rik Jannsen
2nd 'ELG' Nigel Bishop
3rd 'Fox Cub' Melvyn Fox
Neither of these events would take place without the support of a number of East Coast OGA members and others, with huge apologies if I have omitted any:
Clare Thomas, Yvonne Graham, Lorna Hill, Alison Cable, Jayne Smith, Pam and Ian Kemp, Richard Giles, Brian Percival (our gunner at the start), Pete Thomas, PTK, Yvonne Mitchell, Ed Roberts, Tony Pickering, Mike McCarthy, Brian & Lorna Hammett and Julie Osborn.
My thanks to you all and to everyone who entered and helped make it a memorable event.