Once again the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club opened their doors and welcomed the East Coast Gaffers in great style, starting with a cooked breakfast on Saturday morning where the weather was the focus of attention. The wind forecast of a top end force 4 gusting 5 was a marked improvement on the 5 gusting 6 that had been threatened at the start of the week, but still a bit much for dinghies.
Initial plans were for a race out over the Wade and round some race marks, but after discussion, and with the promise of 3 support boats, it was decided that the fleet should try to get round Horsey Island and 17 boats started the race at 11:30. Montmorency, the first boat home, took just under 1 hour 5 minutes to complete the anti-clockwise circumnavigation, closely followed by Happy Days, the first smack boat, with an elapsed time of 1 hour 8.5 minutes. This is noticeably faster than last year's results.
Three boats retired and were happy to be towed home, while Fyre, the lug rigged 505 made it safely home under its own sail despite capsizing 3 times. This was also the first public outing for Papa Little in a gaffers's race, sporting an unusual rig for a Wayfarer. Conditions did not allow a view of the promised pink topsail, but the gaff cutter rig proved very capable despite the conditions.
After the quick race there was a long afternoon to fill before dinner, but Julian Cable provided 6 LEGO® land yachts and great fun was had making sails and rigging and "sailing" them with the aid of a hair drier on the Yacht Club floor.
A curry dinner for 23 was held upstairs in the club after the prize giving, followed by music in the bar before people headed back to their campervans near the pond, or tents in the Wilberforce's orchard.
Sunday's weather also allowed for sailing thanks to the presence of the Yacht Club safety boats. It was decided that the fleet would aim in the direction of Witches Cottage, and while three boats turned back due to the conditions 5 did make it all the way up Kirby creek and had lunch on the beach.
Thanks to the Wilberforces for the use of their orchard and facilities, and to the staff and officers of the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club. Special thanks to the safety boat crews for their stirling support on both days.