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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
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.