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  Blowing old boots: Breydon Regatta, 2019 New Page 1

Given the forecast for 50mph winds on the Saturday, there was a lot of pre-event anxiety among the committee before this year's Breydon Regatta, not least because of the large expenditure necessary beforehand on alcohol and prizes. Because of this, cancelling was never an option and the set-up team duly arrived on their various boats throughout the day on Friday. Initially an al fresco bar was set up; then some pacing around the meadow ensued, along with viewing of the weather forecast, anemometers and compasses, before the decision was made to put up two thirds of the marquee in the semi-shelter of Berney Mill and its associated outbuildings.

This was an interesting exercise, as the instructions were no longer with the tent, but the frame slowly came together, the canvas was unvelcro-ed and revelcro-ed to the correct size and Ian Stewart expertly tied the structure down with ropes (over the frame, but under the canvas, which we all thought was genius and which undoubtedly saved the tent fabric over the next couple of days). The embryonic bar was carried in and augmented and we were up and running, with our cheerful barmaid, Alison.

Soon, customers arrived, the music was turned on and the beer flowed well. The party atmosphere was enlivened, if that is the right phrase, with Will's jokes and there was enough support for the first firkin of Little Sharpie to be almost empty by bedtime.

The 9.30am briefing unsurprisingly resulted in a prompt decision that there would be no racing that day, although there had been some alcohol-induced talk the previous day of racing dories with makeshift sails on them! Perhaps more sensibly, we settled on a quiz at noon, compiled by Jan. Meantime, many retired to their boats to work on Betty's quizzes in the programme, while Denis and Margaret kept tent watch, weighting down the bottom rails and generally keeping an eye on the structure as the gusts rose in strength, causing the frame to creak and sway alarmingly, as the canvas stretched and flapped.

All 28 people present returned at noon to keep Alison busy behind the bar and to enter the quiz. Another barrel of ale slowly bit the dust; the quiz was won by Vixen, with Melinda in second place and the Branscombes and Selfs tying for third place. Will confessed he had only got four correct when trying out the quiz at home, which may have made the losers feel better. As the afternoon wore on, Zingara appeared, having crossed Breydon, David and Penny Holmes turned up, having walked from Reedham and, much later, we were joined by Matt Ellis, whose tale of his adventures to get there provoked much amusement. The evening wore on; the third barrel was broached and the moon rose above the tent, provoking Rachael to remark that from outside we all looked as though we were in the stable at Bethlehem.

Having had the promised 8pm briefing for Sunday's Passage Race the previous evening, three skippers present felt morally obliged to sign in for this race in the morning. One imagines that none of them were truly keen, as it was still gusting nearly 30mph and the river direction meant a gybing run back from the mark to the finish. Nevertheless, they all set off, well reefed down and crossing the line at the top end of the moorings in their own time, as a normal timed start was felt to be unsafe. Melinda was first, just as the tide turned to the ebb, followed shortly afterwards by Sabrina II with her excitable crew and, eventually, in his own time, Brian on Catspaw, with our barmaid on board as a third pair of hands.

Melinda found the run back entirely controllable, apart from one exciting-looking crash gybe within sight of the finish line, as did Catspaw. However, Sabrina II took a big broach not long after rounding the buoy, heading at speed for a piled bank and terrifying the crew. Fortunately, they managed to turn into the wind and, having failed to get sufficient way to turn back round, lowered the main and sailed downriver, still at great speed, under jib alone. Ian and Fiona, from Melinda, declared it the best sail they had had all year; by contrast, John Holmes appeared in the beer tent still looking shaken. There was little appetite for a second race, so that was that.

As rumour had it that the EACC cruise was coming through Great Yarmouth around 12:30, the fourth barrel was tapped and the prize-giving was delayed until 2pm in the mistaken hope that they would be there in time to join us for that. Firstly, the winners of Betty's quizzes were announced, which had record entries, given we had little else to do. Vixen won the "Where am I..." quiz and Paul Howes the one where you had to name Waveney Valley villages. With only three race entrants, there were two glass tumblers for each yacht that took part and, with elapsed and corrected times both sorting out into the same order, Melinda took both the Sambroke-Sturgess (corrected time) and Greyhound (elapsed time) trophies. Catspaw probably lost the race by starting 25 minutes after Melinda, when the ebb had set in more strongly, as they were a mere 33 seconds behind on corrected time.

Denis won the hamper in the raffle, with Chris Dowsett also picking up two prizes, even though he wasn't there. Nobody is safe from a YSC raffle ticket seller! Then it was time to dismantle the tent and we were back to an al fresco bar, as boats began to leave. We were down to the nine members staying overnight, when EACC arrived and descended upon our bar. Great to see them! Having supped, they moved on, leaving the nine to relax and enjoy some well earned beers in the late sunshine, joined briefly by Tony O'Toole, who had made the trip down the river bank on his quad bike. As dusk fell, dinner time arrived and the party broke up, leaving just a slight amount in the bottom of the barrel.

The Yare Sailing Club would like to offer heartfelt thanks to those few who braved the weather and supported this event. Those who came by boat made a special effort to support the beer tent throughout the weekend, turning potential disaster into a moderate success. Others made special journeys to be with us and, behind the scenes, the efforts of many came together to make this event work. Thank you all.

last edited on:  13/08/2019 at 19:50   by: The Editor