An impressive 15 yachts turned up for this year’s Ray Perryman, including one or two that don’t normally race with us. As usual, a timed gate was set, with boats starting as and when they crossed the line, which was just upriver from the railway swingbridge. With a train due 7 minutes before the first start was permitted, the river became somewhat congested with boats waiting for the bridge to open and when it eventually did swing, it was opened so slowly as to make the movement almost imperceptible.
This resulted in a bit of a charge for the gap, once it got big enough and it was perhaps fortunate that the starting gate opened in time to allow the first three yachts to go straight for the line, all of them crossing within 11 seconds of each other, about a minute after the gun. Within 10 minutes, all but one yacht had started; Force Four opting for a more leisurely beginning to their day and leaving half an hour later.
The early part of the race was all running and reaching in bright sunshine and a fresh northerly. Soon the fleet sorted themselves out, with the faster yachts naturally pulling ahead, creating the splendid sight of yachts strung out along the river. As always it was slower once the tree-lined sections of the Waveney were reached, but the race soon became more tedious for some as the wind backed to the north west and turned the upper reaches above Long Dam Level into a tricky tack.
May had difficulties, drifting into a lee shore for a while, no doubt while trying to make a reach and the President also took a liking to the bank, parking TOG in the reeds for a while; this resulting in sterling efforts from the Vice Commodore to get him off again. (Any other embarrassing incidents escaped the notice of this reporter!)
Quite a traffic jam was formed around Aldeby Stumps, with half a dozen yachts tacking through, while various motor boats tried to manoeuvre around them. One motoring YSC member decided to put a positive spin on this, saying that driving his boat at 0.1 mph on a flood tide with a strong cross wind was good for developing his boat handling skills.
Eventually, as nearly always, the race ended with a brisk reach up to the Beccles Amateur Sailing Club and the finish line, although only the later yachts had the traditional obstacle of racing dinghies to contend with.
May’s dalliance with the bank put her a mere 12 seconds off second place on corrected time, being just pipped by Jessie May. However, the clear winner was Andy Gordon’s Mimosa, in possibly her first ever race with the YSC.
After the prize-giving (performed with a virtual trophy) the boats moved up to the yacht station, taking up most of the northern bank. Here some enjoyed a barbecue, aided by the beer on board White Rose to celebrate her 30th birthday, while others went into town to try out the Wetherspoons and eat in various restaurants.
Sunday saw a split in the fleet, with the motorised section and three yachts going up to Geldeston for the rest of the day, while nine other yachts enjoyed a sail downriver, breaking for lunch at Burgh St Peter before returning to Somerleyton for the night.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the weekend was the three days of sunshine, albeit with a fresh and cool wind, but definitely atypical bank holiday weather!
Boats present : Anna, Anne, Fair Lady, Force Four, Jessie May, Kingfisher, Lucky Breeze, Marigold, May, Mimosa, Modwena, Pandora III, Pelican, Puck, Retribution, Seabird, Shruff, The Only Girl, White Rose, Wiggy, Wisp
Photographs of the race can be seen