As usual, the Ray Perryman Memorial Race gathering began on Friday lunchtime at Somerleyton, with many present electing to dine in the Duke’s Head in the evening too, although it was noted that some retired early. The secretary was heard proclaiming that he was going to hoist everything on Pandora III, regardless, in the morning and just go for it, despite his lack of a full crew. Not just the beer talking, as in the morning, he was true to his word.
It turned out to be a grey start to the day, with the forecast force 3-4 north easterly materialising as expected. The wise skippers passed through Somerleyton swing bridge in good time and hung in the reeds head to wind to wait for the starting gate to open and to hoist their sails.
The two slowest yachts, Valkyrie III and Force Four set off upriver first, soon after the hour long gate opened at 10.30. Pandora III, May and Anna followed in quick succession, but Anne chose to sit and wait a bit longer and while doing so, decided to shake out their reef. Dare I wonder if this delay was gin related??
Puck loitered on the Somerleyton moorings to do the washing up (having had a very early start from Cantley) and Vixen, having tucked in a reef for comfort, decided to practice sailing up and down below the bridge while waiting for the tide to strengthen: both skippers were confident that the bridge would open after the 11 o’clock train. Except it didn’t...
In the event, both yachts squeaked across the line within the last 30 seconds of the allowed time gate, following Anne who had started 10 minutes previously and the rest of the fleet who were well out of sight. Given the wind direction, only White House Reach was a tack and a generally enjoyable sail to Beccles ensued, with the sun breaking through the clouds to give a pleasant afternoon.
For a while, it looked as if Puck might hold Vixen, but, as planned, the latter shook out their reef at Burgh St Peter and began to pull away; finally leaving Puck properly behind in the slow tree lined reaches around Aldeby.
As often, the first boats to Beccles had to take care when finishing, as the Optimists were out in force. Those who started later, as well as having a stronger tide under them, also had the slight advantage of clear water to finish in. BASC made us most welcome, finishing the race for us, inviting us to use their moorings and opening the bar for the thirsty mariners to enjoy a few lunchtime pints. Many thanks to Shirley, Julie and all at the club.
John Smith’s tactic of a skeleton crew and too much sail (and string!) paid off, making him a clear winner of the race, with May in second place, followed by Vixen (making her YSC racing debut) in third, narrowly beating Anne.
As is now traditional, most boats reconvened at Beccles Yacht Station, where some went for an evening beer and curry in town and some had a BBQ on the moorings. On Sunday, the fleet split, with some going to Geldeston for lunch and others heading back down river. For those that left early enough, a pleasant sail in sunshine ensued. Others got wet...