The morning of the Cecil Howard came with promises of a light WSW, and a decent up-tide. Most competitors therefore were lulled into the sense this would be a straightforward race.
Not to be! The Race Officer and Green Wyvern committee decided that a loop would be put into the course - with the added excitement of an 'X' zone and a down-wind start, competitors would be first going downriver to a buoy in the vicinity of Hardley Mill, ensuring that a meaningful race would be had by all.
Entrants comprised a variety of Northern Rivers boats, who had come south for the YNR - including 'Mystery', 'Maidie', 'Zingara' and several YSC northern branch members!
Pre-start, several competitors went out to test the conditions. Both 'Corsair' and 'Sabrina 2' made unscheduled stops in the reeds. One to tie in the 2nd reef, the other to fix an errant bowsprit whisker stay, whilst the bowsprit did its best impression of a piece of Spaghetti (!)
Once started, the competitors were immediately treated to a tack through the Factory, with a flood tide to contend with. This suited those boats with larger rigs, and as a positive gave the bankside spectators a view of most fleets, in close competition, going both up and downhill to/from the lower buoy.
For most, the sight of the lower buoy was blessed relief, as it enabled a 180 degree turn and a run with the tide back through the factory. Ever mindful of the concrete quay heading outside the factory meant tacking early was the prudent choice!
The rest of the course to Coldham was a mixture of reaching and some close reaches/tacking. 'Corsair' and 'Puck' were soon left to their own devices at the back of the fleet, with 2 and 3 reefs respectively... Whilst sensible in the open river - the trees soon made the progress somewhat slower...
Conditions definitely suited the larger, or heavier boats. 'Force Four' was seen to be stood quite upright, powering ahead (lucky devils) as she tacked toward the Beauchamp Arms before vanishing over the horizon on a broad reach from the Beauchamp toward Strumpshaw.
Fisherman were another obstacle of the course, some offering feedback as to the presence of so many tacking yachts - and despite being at the back of the fleet, I can guarantee that the sight of Coldham Hall was welcome to all competitors, either at the front or the back of the fleet!
All in all, it was an enjoyable, if breezy sail on the Yare. Thanks to the organisers for an enjoyable day. Oh, and Mystery won.