This year’s Breydon Regatta was a tale of two halves, with not really enough wind on Saturday and rather too much for some on Sunday. It all began, however, on Friday afternoon with a small group of people loitering near the Berney Arms windmill, waiting for the tent to arrive and keeping an eye on the weather forecast with its promised rain.
As soon as the marquee arrived, many hands set to, willingly heaving it off the boat and into the RSPB’S picnic site, where poles were soon being assembled and on went the roof canvas and up it went on its leg supports just as the first meaningful drops of rain fell. Phew! Quickly, the bar was set up too and it was drinks all round before most slipped off back to their boats. A quiet evening ensued, until the tide rose enough to let people off their boats again around 8pm, when some drinkers took good advantage of the bar.
Robert Self, back as Breydon OOD after a year’s absence due to ill health, began his briefing by thanking competitors for the get well card sent to him last year, before moving onto more routine matters regarding the course. This, as usual, began at the NRA jetty from the committee boat (Pelican, this year) and looped up and down Breydon for three laps. The dozen starters were split into three groups, which did have the effect of disadvantaging the slower yachts later in the race, as the ebb set in and created a tack against the tide. The first start boats clearly revelled in the conditions, taking the first four places, led by Colin Chettleburgh on Breeze, but further back it felt as though every wind shift was a header and much frustration was felt by many as the wind constantly fluked in both direction and strength.
After a shorter than expected lunch, it was all too soon time for the second race, with a lighter breeze and a stronger tide. All went reasonably well until the slower boats reached the bottom mark and found they were unable to make headway against the tide, with every tack taking them closer to Great Yarmouth. All persevered though and, slowly, slowly made their way back up Breydon.
Hearts were lifted as the course was shortened, but there was still a long way to go. Anna and Vixen then got a long lift which brought them close to the second start boats and then it was just a case of hanging on to crawl to the top mark, before returning on the tide to the finish. The conditions suited Zingara down to the ground and she scooted home in first place, both over the water and on corrected time, leaving Breeze only able to manage a third, behind Melinda. As both Zingara and Breeze had a first and third place for the day, the Breeze Yard of Ale for best overall had to be split on ‘best last place,’ giving the trophy to Richie Dugdale.
The evening low tide again seemed to keep people on their boats until later, but eventually there was a convivial circle of drinkers in the beer tent. This petered out after 10pm though, leaving Joe and Margaret behind the bar ample time to concentrate on completing all the crosswords in the EDP.
Sunday dawned in a deceptively pleasant way, as competitors handed in their entry times for the passage race and Robert then revealed that nearly everyone was in a solo start. He commented that this was going to keep Chris very busy firing off cartridges, at no little expense.
With the briefing at 9:15 and the first boat not due to start until 10:50, there was plenty of time for competitors to observe the wind rising and for many to slip in a reef or two. It looked quite exciting on Catspaw, as she went upriver with full sail, but more controlled on Golden Moon. Sabrina 2, reefed, set off from the bank, but had trouble turning back downriver in a sudden strong squall. Pippinjack left with full sail, but was observed to have a reef in by the time they went upriver, as had Grayling with her amazing bendy boom. May and Rebecca left last, at noon, but everyone else backed out of the race and either went home, or watched the race from the safety of dry land.
Catspaw came back first by quarter of an hour or so, followed in quick order by Sabrina 2, Golden Moon and Pippinjack. The latter looked very comfortable, but for Golden Moon, every gybe was an adventure, including one spectacular foray between the red posts opposite the old pub. As they gyrated when the keel hit the mud and flew back out, the spectators applauded. Grayling came past without incident, followed about twenty minutes later by the well-reefed May, leading Rebecca.
Corrected times turned out to be very close, with Pippinjack taking the Greyhound Trophy for being fastest around the course, but three other boats being within 26 seconds of his time; Grayling just two seconds slower. Fourth fastest was May, but on corrected time, she won the Sambrooke-Stugess trophy for the race.
Golden Moon was the only contender for the Breydon Tankard for 15% and slower boats and Pippinjack, with his second in the Passage race and fourth place from the previous afternoon took the Breydon Barometer for overall regatta winner. As usual, Bob then auctioned a couple of paintings for club funds, before switching rôles to call the raffle in Terry’s absence. Vixen won the hamper and then, suddenly, it was time to dismantle the tent, which came down faster than it went up, leaving only a solitary, almost empty barrel of beer sitting on a table in the middle of the field. The crew of Vixen decided the water was too low to get back aboard, so kept the barrel company. Strangely, by the time others had eaten and come back ashore there was nothing left but an empty field….