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Shearwater Travellers at Canveys Island Yacht Club

by Shaun Allen 10 Aug 2011 21:56 BST 30-31July 2011

As the majority of the fleet made it`s way to the Island Yacht Club on Canvey Island, few had little perception of what to expect and indeed for most, a visit to the birth place of the Shearwater at the G Prout and Sons works was their first visit to this Thames Estuary island. But immediately on arrival the warm greeting by club members, the smart, spacious club house was but a forerunner to the amazing show IYS were about to put on for the benefit of all visitors to their Cat Open.

As tents were put up, vans and mobile homes arrived, boats were being rigged, the galley and bar were open and in a very short time the whole Club site became a hive of industry absolutely buzzing with enthusiasm. The only thing that seemed to be missing was the sea – we could see ships in the distance and Southend pier – but where was the wet stuff that we rely on ?!

The next morning our query was answered as the rising tide finally surmounted the mud flats and suddenly the sea shore took on a completely new appearance, but in view of the fairly early start of 11.45 AM there was little time for observation. After a hearty breakfast, courtesy of the Galley, boats were made ready for launching into the inshore shallows.

Even at this point there was little in the way of wind and most boats were to be seen paddling out towards the start area. With three races scheduled for Saturday it was clear that the Race Officer was in for a difficult time – competitors included! As the fleet made it`s various ways up the first beat it became abundantly clear that there was no right or wrong way to go but simply to make the best of what ever bit of breeze came your way – even if it was in a totally different direction to other boats only a few metres away. But whilst continuously changing direction there was just enough wind to provide propulsion resulting in rapid changes in position throughout the fleet but at the gun it was Dion and Anna in Take Five taking line honours.

To try to cope with the shifting conditions the Race Officer and his team made valiant efforts to reconfigure the course and off we went again but the inconsistency of the breeze remained. With only one lap of the windward/leeward course taking the best part of an hour for the leading boats the second race was concluded after only one lap but in this instance line honours were taken by Nick and Kerry in Cajensa et al after a fine display of tactical sailing.

With available water time running out the RO wisely decided to delay Race Three until the next day and the fleet headed home mid afternoon for an early start on the evening`s entertainment. Such was the generosity of the IYS that the entry fee, a modest £30 per boat, not only included a Hog Roast meal for both helm and crew – but a bottle of wine as well – and live entertainment throughout the evening.

Even the young ones were well catered for throughout the weekend with a Bouncy Castle ! It can be well imagined that with excellent company and a fine meal it wasn`t long before the Shearwater propensity for partying kicked in and a superb evening followed.

Sunday dawned bright ,sunny – and a sea breeze ! The RO had declared his intention to try for three races whereupon Mother Nature responded accordingly by slowly building to a good F3 to F4 at times. What pleasure ensued – lively breeze, glorious sunshine and tight racing throughout the fleet.

By now a group of boats hotly contesting the lead was developing with Cajensa et al, Sim Sek, Take 5 and Alley Cat all vying for pole position but with the likes of Ruby, UFO, Dilligaf, and Airflow snapping at their heels. All three races were completed in time to get back to shore while there was still water – and the promise of a free Bar-B-Q for all whist de-rigging and packing up.All in all a superbly organised event, and an incredibly hospitable Club.


1. Allan Howland & Rob Britten - Alley Cat
2. Nigel Stuart & Sarah Stuart - Simsek
3. Shaun Allen & Claire Robinson - CFP
4. Nick Elliot & Kerry Elliot - Cajensa

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