Wow, what a fabulous weekend of sailing! After a number of weekends fighting the tide in light wind sailing conditions, the 2018 East Coast Championships truly showed what a spectacular sailing location Burnham on Crouch is with champagne sailing on both days...
On Saturday morning 29 boats, including 12 visitors, set off down to Clarks to ensure clear water away from the other classes setting sail that day. After a short postponement to enable all the boats to make their way to the race course and then the pre-requisite couple of general recalls (could be interesting at Cowes week!) racing commenced. With gusts of around 22 knots, the Grogans in Helmut Shöing II showed their skill in the strong breeze and were quick to the first mark and extended their lead around the course. It was a closer battle behind with Aquabat (Stu Rix/Steve Warren-Smith) taking second spot ahead of Humphrey (Robert Coyle/Marc Rawinsky).
Race two got away first time and again racing was close with mayhem at the mark roundings! The Grogans continued their winning ways once more but this time it was the yellow hull of Guy Fawkes which made an appearance and snuck in front of Lady Penelope to take second place.
With the tide changing and winds not abating, the sea state got up. A slight break between races two and three as the Committee boat had to move to avoid running aground (easily done as demonstrated by Pani Munta).
The U flag made its first appearance in Race three and brought the squib fleet back in check after a couple more general recalls. By this time rolling waves now set the scene for the spinnaker runs and Lady Penelope (with Andy Ramsey returning to crew Malcolm Hutchings) showed how it was done taking the win from Humphrey whilst the Grogans had to settle for third. The racing continued to be extremely close and the finishing whistle was practically constant as boats crossed within seconds of each other.
The final race of the day and many crews were looking forward to the much deserved pint and dry clothes. Three times round the course and this time it was Aquabat who came out on top, choosing the right time & angle to cross the tide. As the boats crossed the finish line, the important race commenced as the spinnakers stayed up and boats enjoyed a fast and furious spinnaker reach back to the club! Brilliant fun!
At the end of day 1 it was the Grogans in the lead at the half way point with Lady Penelope just two points ahead of Aquabat and the rest of us not that far behind. It was definitely all to play for coming into day 2. However, there was one important competition to be had first and that was the Darts competition kindly organised by Jason Phelps and the Corinthian Otters to raise money for a new Otter Spotter engine. Competition was fierce and, despite being knocked out in the first round and having to re-enter, it was Phil Aspinall who took his only trophy of the event!
Day 2 saw a shorter sail out to the race course and lighter winds but the sunshine remained and we were promised another fantastic day’s racing. Malcolm and Andy (Lady P) started off the proceedings with a win in Race 5 as conditions saw boats short tacking along the edge (reminiscent of the Gold Cup weekend but with more wind!) just pushing Ian Keely in Supanova into second with Helmut Shöing taking the third place. Jenny & Bryan Riley just missed out on third place after a superb last run, overtaking 5 boats on their way to the finish.
Race 6 and this time it was Aquabat taking line honours. Second and third went to Pani Munta (Mike Probert/James Bryer) and Spoof (Micky Wright/Alex Porteous) in yet another nail bitingly close finish. Helmut Shöing was back in front for Race 7 with Brimstone taking 2nd in front of Aquabat and with that win, the Grogans had taken the trophy and took the decision to grab that early beer. However it was all to play for in Race 8 with Lady Penelope and Aquabat fighting it out for second. This time it was the turn of Nic Tolhurst & Sarah James in By The Lee to lead from start to finish, keeping ahead of Supernova and Humphrey’s late charge and winning the final race of the day.
One single point separated second and third and final results showed Helmut Shöing in first, Aquabat second and Lady Penelope third. In the silver fleet it was Nemesis (Ray Althorp/Guy Welch) who prevailed over Buccaneer (Emma Baker/Sam Prime) and Magic Roundabout (Jason Phelps/Carl Anderson). Leading Lady Crew was Jenny Riley (ably assisted by Bryan in Brimstone).
Many thanks to our sponsors, Hyde Sails and Harken for the prizes as well as Edwin Buckley and Team Phoebe for yet another fantastic event.