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53rd Navigators & General Three Rivers Race

by Holly Hancock 4 Jun 2013 17:36 BST 1-2 June 2013

The 53rd Navigators & General Three Rivers Race took place over the weekend of 1st & 2nd June 2013 with George Whitefoot as the new Race Officer, taking over from Colin Facey after 21 years of running the race. Supported by wife Linda and his Committee, the Race attracted 95 entrants from near and far to compete in the event, hosted by Horning Sailing Club on the Norfolk Broads. The boats started the 24-hour endurance race from Horning on Saturday morning. It was then up to competitors to choose their route, whether to do the Ludham and South Walsham legs first, or to head to Acle or Potter Heigham, taking into account tides and wind conditions.

Beginning as an unseasonally dull, chilly and breezy day, it was only during late afternoon that the sun broke through and temperatures picked up, although this was short-lived. With daylight fading, the wind dropping and the mist rolling in, the temperature rapidly fell. It was the lighter, fastest boats that were able to make the most of these conditions, with just six boats in total consisting of Norfolk Punts and X1 dinghies making it back to the Clubhouse before nightfall. Despite over seven hours of racing, just 20 seconds separated the first two finishers, with John Parker crewed by James Savage sailing Norfolk Punt Wild Goose making it his third win, and taking seven trophies for his efforts, just ahead of Richard Whitefoot's Punt Comet, crewed by Chris Tovell. Similarly, the next two boats home, the X1 dinghies of Chris-Winnington-Ingram crewed by Martin Dixon, and James Dugdale and Flip Foulds were likewise just seconds apart.

The lowering of masts under the bridges provided their usual share of entertainment, especially at Potter Heigham, where some boats left it late to shoot the bridge to the delight of spectators, although on the whole the race was largely incident free. A somewhat lengthened race than in previous years, it saw a return to a turning buoy positioned on South Walsham Broad, as well as a buoy at the far end of Hickling Broad and at the Stracey Arms on the Lower Bure; despite this the majority of competitors made good progress and were on the return leg to the finish line by early evening. However, once the tide turned, with extremely little wind, the remaining 80 plus competitors faced a long night ahead, it being almost impossible to make progress (except backwards!) against the strong tide, with many taking the decision to retire, and only 64 making it to the finish line. The large split in finishing times appeared to favour the slower boats as they were able to catch the faster craft who were stranded by the tide nearer to the Clubhouse, all finishing very closely after the wind picked up at daybreak.

Mist at dawn during the 53rd Navigators & General Three Rivers Race - photo © Holly Hancock
Mist at dawn during the 53rd Navigators & General Three Rivers Race - photo © Holly Hancock

First river cruiser on handicap was Adrian Lincoln sailing Pixie, finishing in 20th place, after over 19 hours on the water. Another Cruiser Raisena, with her majestic rig, helmed by Chris Bunn, was the Cruiser to make the fastest passage despite spending some time struggling with the shallow waters on Hickling Broad. It was also a good race for Simon & David Means sailing their YBOD Painted Jezebel, shooting the bridges in style and finishing in eighth place, picking up four trophies for their efforts. Kevin Edwards finished seventh in Norfolk One Design Minnie, collecting the Bosun's Call B trophy, whilst Paul Clarke sailing Two 'C' Sons was first out of the 12-strong Yeoman fleet to finish, Jim Windley helming Rhapsody was first Wayfarer, and Kim West in Rebel Queen first Rebel. 19-year-old James Galloway sailed his first Three Rivers Race, picking up the Chippa Trophy for first Enterprise.

Full provisional results and a trophy list can be found on the HSC website on the 3RR page links, www.horningsc.co.uk

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