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  Autumn Open Regatta, 2023

This year, the weather gods decided to test the Officer of the Day by laying on an easterly breeze for the weekend. However, things started off gently with the Junior race for helms under 30: this year three of the four helms were 29, so this was their final chance to triumph in this race. With only one start, it was possible to safely start the yachts upwind towards a buoy laid well short of the factory, before heading upriver beyond Langley Woods and back to the finish line. On Melinda, James Galloway, who has been second in this race over the last three attempts, finally triumphed to take the Jenner Trophy by a clear minute from Ben Knight on Maidie.

In the afternoon was the race that always promotes tension as the clock ticks down, namely the annual pursuit race. With all but two yachts setting off singly, led by Stella Genesta, it was possible to safely have a downwind, upriver start, although it was noticeable that most were very line shy and only Paul on Melinda made use of the bias on the line.

The crew of Maidie were clearly enjoying their last event of the year, with music playing, the crew singing and dancing and, by all accounts, a few high jinks being played to wind up the helm. If they had tried a little harder, they might have improved on their sixth place but, hey, as long as they were having funÖ. A full loop up to Hassingham, then back to the buoy alongside the moorings was possible, with the race finishing soon after the leading boats had got clear of Langley Woods for the second time. This second passage was tricky, with the tide strengthening against the yachts, many of which found themselves tacking in light airs.

Bill Clark on Morning Calm, perhaps with a combination of local knowledge and luck, made it through in one long fetch and was able to pull away five minutes before the race ended to take a clear win. Tinkerbell, who had briefly been in the lead on the downriver leg, had to settle for second place, fighting to hold off Sabrina 2 and Flight.

The usual pleasant social evening in the Reedcutter followed, with the weather still clement enough for pre-dinner drinks to be taken outside. Around 20 members enjoyed the meal which stopped most of them from drinking: again fairly par for the course!

Sunday morning presented tricky conditions for running a race, with 16 boats now in the fleet and the forecast strong easterly being light and flukey in reality. With fingers firmly crossed, the OOD sent the boats down through the factory, with slow boats going first, having canvassed opinions on this at the briefing without dissent. This didnít work as well as hoped, with the wind funnelling to make the factory reach a tack in not enough wind and the majority of the fleet bunching as the fast boats tried to make their way through the slower ones. Oh dear.

The fleet split at this point into those who managed to clear the factory, round the buoy below Hardley Mill and return upriver to the top mark above Langley and those who got stuck in the factory reach. Unfortunately, six boats retired because of this, but some of them at least stayed dry, while those out on the water (many of whom did not have waterproofs on) were treated to a decent breeze, unfortunately accompanied by heavy rain.

The OOD, looking at the boats stuck downriver and feeling sympathy for those getting drenched took the pragmatic action of shortening course earlier than intended. As the double shots were fired, loud cheers were heard from Flight, who took line honours with yet more cheering, relieved they did not have to endure any more. They took third place by a mere second from Wandering Rose in fourth; with Sabrina 2 winning the race from Melinda in second.

As the finishing crews headed for the pub to dry out, the line settled in to wait for the last finishers. Stella Genesta finally crossed the line, nearly an hour and a half behind Flight on the water and the relieved line crew headed off for a snatched lunch.

Following a request from one of the slower boats and vociferous protests about the morning start order from one helm, the fleet were sent off with the fast boats first in the afternoon, but with only three minute intervals to aid the slower boats in making the most of the slacker tide around high water. This was generally more successful, with all but one yacht making it down through the factory to Hardley Mill and back to the top mark, now at the top of Cantley Reach to avoid the difficulties of Langley Reach against the strengthening ebb. This shorter race was also won by Sabrina 2, which also gave them both the overall weekend trophy and the John Mann trophy for boats built before 1940. Flight came in second and second overall, with Melinda similarly third in this race and third overall.

This weekend also sees the presentation of the Diamond Jubilee Trophy for the best results from the three weekend regattas at Rockland and Cantley. Only three yachts qualified this year, with a number not being able (or willing) to compete at the very windy July regatta. Glory qualified, albeit with a lot of points; Wandering Rose came second with a total of 17 points, but could not get near Paul Howes and Melinda, who had a mere 10 points from their six counting races.

This year also saw the first running of the Yare Autumn Cruiser Series, covering the Cecil Howard race, Yare Navigation and our Autumn Regatta. Yachts had to compete in all three events to get a result and, as expected, Adrian Lincoln consolidated his lead from the first two events to take the inaugural first place trophy with a total of just 7 points. Melinda, with 9 points, took the second place trophy. With no boat being able to win more than one trophy, the Fast, Medium and Slow boat trophies went to Wandering Rose, Morning Calm and Anna respectively. The Northern trophy went to Jessie May with Maidie getting the Southern trophy. The BSC Anchor for last place went to Melody, who tied on points with Glory, but lost out on the tie break.

last edited on:  24/09/2023 at 11:38   by: The Editor