23 squibs gathered at Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club over the Bank Holiday weekend to contest the East Coast Championships. Visitors had travelled from as far afield as Bangor in North Wales, Torbay and Bridlington to contest the event. There was also a good showing of local boats, particularly from Waldringfield. A 5 race series was held over the 27th and 28th May with 3 races on Saturday 27th.
Saturday Dawned with a 15 knot wind from the NNE which resulted in some steep waves caused by the ebb tide over the shingle bar at the mouth of the river Deben , but all contestants found their way through the shoals without any problems. After a couple of false starts, mostly caused by the strong ebb tide taking competitors over the line, racing started at the third attempt with a black flag , but fortunately no one was over.The course was a 3 lap windward/leeward course which was won by Micky Wright and Alex Porteous from Burnham who pulled out a commanding lead , a result in no small part by faultless spinnaker work by Alex who was showing just what a girl for the Isle of Wight could do.
(Images courtesy of Karl Wilkinson)
With the ebb tide slackening the seas were calming and Race 2 started on time with an Olympic style course of Triangles and Sausages which enabled the fleet to demonstrate their 3 sail reaching abilities. This race was led by local sailors Andy Moore and Pete Hallinan for just over a lap before being overhauled by Malcolm Hutchins and Andy Carley from Burnham who went on to win the race. It was great to see Andy Carley sailing in the fleet again, a changed man from the “wild child” of years ago.
The final race of the day followed the same format as race 2 , but with a windward finish. The race was closely contested up to the final lap when Tom Jeffcoate and Mark Hogan got their noses in front and opened out a healthy lead to by the finish, Micky and Alex were second and Andy and Pete third. With the flood tide strengthening from the North a carefully judged tack to the finish line was required which resulted in one competitor hooking the anchor line of the pin end of the finish line and towing it off to Felixstowe. Fortunately the race officer had a transit on shore so that results were unaffected.
On Saturday evening competitors and the race team enjoyed a meal in the clubhouse and were treated to a discourse from the Honorable Thomas Crean of the mid fleet club , together with the award of the “Dick of the Day “ jacket, understandably awarded to the competitor who towed the finishing line away.
Sunday produced much the same weather as Saturday with wind from between 030and 045 degrees. Once again a windward/leeward course was set , but with more tide taking the fleet over the line. Fortunately competitors had “ wised up “ by now and a clean start at the first attempt was a relief to all. The race was closely fought between two look alike boats , Nigel and Jack Grogan in sail no 105 and Ben Stone crewed by Jamie Mayhew from Waldringfield in Sail no 905 ; one of the new Rondar boats previously owned by Nigel. The difference in age of the boats is probably of the order of 50 years but there was really nothing between them. Ben and Jamie just squeezed a win, which was particularly impressive because they had not sailed a Squib before!
The final race followed the same pattern as the day before with the race team opting for an olympic course but this time with the finish at the leeward end of the second triangle which put the boats nearer the mouth of the river. At this point there had been different winners for each race , and the title was really open to at least 3 boats so with a building breeze of about 20 knots racing commenced . No 136 Rick O’shea sailed by Tom and Mark were first to the first mark and were never overhauled and in so doing won the regatta and the East Coast Championship. Two points behind them were the consistant team of Micky Wright and Alex Porteous , followed by the Grogans, only 2 points further back in third .
Jo Woodward of Marketforce Martlesham kindly provided the bow stickers which facilitated efficient recovery of the boats.
Mention has to be made of local boatyard owner Andrew Moore (also a competitor) and his staff who launched and recovered the boats and provided moorings at no cost to the event , without this generosity it would not have happened.