For this year’s Breydon Regatta, we decided to return to the Fisherman’s Bar at Burgh Castle for our base. As the weekend approached and it became clear it was going to be another windy one, this decision seemed more and more sensible. With the upstream moorings recently refurbished, but inexplicably fenced off, permission was sought to use Goodchild’s floating pontoon for the yachts and they also kindly opened their side gate to give us direct access to the pub.
Unsurprisingly, the forecast had put off many people and entries were down to just four yachts: however, this was one more than last time! It was decided to avoid Breydon Water and try racing on the lower Waveney and this worked well in the morning. All four boats set off upriver with full sail from a line at the bottom end of the pub mooring for a course lapping round two buoys; the lie of the river being such that this gave a tacking start and a course on all points of sailing.
Unhappily, Melinda’s race did not last long, as they found the mud on the first inside bend (despite it being nearly high tide) and by the time they got off, they felt it not worth continuing. This could have been an error, as the wind eased slightly, disadvantaging the two slow boats to the extent that Melinda might just have saved her time on them. Catspaw won by 15 minutes on corrected time from Stella Genesta and Modwena.
The afternoon race was set off on the same course, but unfortunately a heavy burst of rain immediately prior to the start killed the wind, leaving an almost impossible task for the two slower boats against the very strong ebb tide. Modwena did an excellent job of tacking just below the line, waiting for the gun, but had to give way to Melinda just before the start, lost her ground and never got it back. Stella Genesta did eventually manage to cross the line, but couldn’t sustain her progress. Meanwhile, the two faster yachts managed a lap and a half before the race officer called time, with the two slower boats eventually giving up. Melinda won by 4 seconds from Catspaw.
A convivial evening was had in the pub who, early on, saw the lay of the land and extended their closing time by an hour. This was also an opportunity for skippers to mull over their tactics for the Sunday passage race and decide what time they wished to start. In the end, the full range of the allotted time was utilised, with Stella Genesta opting for the earliest start at 10.35 and Melinda hanging on to go last at noon. The other two boats split the differences, with Modwena leaving at 11 and Catspaw half an hour after that.
The race team moved over to Berney Mill to set the start/finish line there, while skippers decided how many reefs to put in for the wind, which was now gusting more strongly than the previous day. Stella put in two and made comfortable progress upriver. Brian, from Catspaw, came to see what was happening on the start line and got roped in to pull flags for Modwena’s less comfortable start: still learning their new main, they afterwards admitted they needed a smaller jib with the reef in.
Catspaw having started, the race team then had to juggle Melinda’s start with Stella Genesta’s finish: fortunately they were not quite simultaneous. Stella’s decision to go early proved a good one, with the tide already ebbing by the time Melinda left, meaning the former was only three minutes slower on elapsed time than the latter and making her a popular winner of this race. Catspaw came second and also took the Greyhound Trophy for the fastest passage. Together with his win on Saturday morning, this gave Brian the overall win and the Breydon Barometer too. Everyone got tumblers and Denis won the hamper.
Despite many difficulties and much anxiety among committee members, this regatta got off the ground and was essentially a success. There were some lessons to be learned about racing on the lower Waveney, but all enjoyed themselves and all yachts present set out for every race. It was good to be back and defy the weather to run this regatta. Less wind and rain next year though, please.