A good crowd met in the Duke’s Head at Somerleyton on the late May bank holiday Friday, all geared up for an early race the following morning. There was much discussion concerning the time of high water (too early) and the wind forecast (either too little or too much, depending on which forecast you read). The race briefing was quite a rowdy affair (being mid-evening in a pub) but for Joe to try and regain control by asking “Who’s the Commodore here?” was always going to produce a show of hands and more heckling.
Waking the next day to steady rain and an almost complete lack of wind at a ridiculously early hour was not the most auspicious beginning for a race. However, maybe because they had had to enter and pay the night before, nine yachts did make it to the start line, with only the three slowest of the twelve entrants deciding more time in bed was preferable to a soggy drift upriver.
As usual, the Ray Perryman was a “start when you cross the line” race, due to the proximity of Somerleyton Swing Bridge and the frequency of trains. This year the gate had been set between 8 and 9am, given that Beccles high water was around 10.30 and the committee didn’t have the nerve to ask people to get up any earlier... Slantendicular and Valkyrie III were first off the moorings and on the start side of the bridge by 7.30, but dallied an hour or so before leaving, perhaps hoping the wind would fill in.
First away, as soon as the 7.50 train had cleared the section and the bridge had opened, was Jessie May, who had clearly taken the opposite tactic by deciding to use as much of the remaining flood tide as possible. She was followed at regular intervals by the rest of the fleet, with Sparklet the last to go, at about ten to nine.
Having eased for the start, the rain then returned with a vengeance, soaking everyone for the next hour and even producing a bespoke hail storm for the crew of Anne. This did at least bring a little breeze, which seemed to suit Jessie May, who had built up quite a substantial lead as they passed Wisp, who was lying alongside the reedbed near Oulton Dyke, while her crew had breakfast and watched otters.
As the skies cleared though and the sun started breaking through, so did the wind rise, to a fresh 4 gusting 5 (thereby proving both weather forecasts to be correct!) and Anne came into her own, charging along in a reaching wind wherever she could and soon making such gains up the fleet that many correctly predicted her win before the results were announced to confirm it.
Jessie May was first to arrive in Beccles, half an hour after the tide had turned, but wasn’t able to improve on her second place from the previous year, with Anna coming in third. Kelvin therefore retained the Crystal Ball, as well as winning the Ray Perryman Memorial Trophy and he got to choose where the Ball goes next year. Hopefully pleasing all camps, he put it on the one event that is both YSC run and also on the Northern rivers – the Downriver Race in October 2015.
After the presentation at BASC (grateful thanks to them for finishing our race and selling us beer) many boats moved round to the yacht station for the evening. As usual, the fleet split between those staying put for a barbecue (finding sunny calm weather between the half gale and the rain storm) and those deciding to go into town for a curry.
There was a further split on Sunday, with some choosing to while away the day at Geldeston and others returning downriver to Oulton for the evening. Either way, it is to be hoped all enjoyed another successful weekend.