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Bart's Bash on the Blackwater

by Dave Hall 25 Sep 2014 17:19 BST 21 September 2014
Bart's Bash on the Blackwater © Marconi SC

Sailors from six of the sailing clubs that sail on the River Blackwater Estuary all sailed together to take part in Bart's Bash race in memory of Andrew 'Bart' Simpson. With boats from Stone SC, Blackwater SC, Harlow (Blackwater) SC, Maylandsea Bay SC, Marconi SC and Goldhanger SC. The mass of boats was made up of a variety of classes from Optimists to Hurricanes and also included a selection of cruisers.

Three race tracks were used to accommodate the huge turnout of 210 boats. The cruisers set off to the open water of the Estuary whilst the General handicap and the Cats did a square course around Osea Island and the junior fleet sailed a square course nearer the shore. On every course there were boats that were out to win but more importantly just to sail and be part of the occasion. We had boats reefed down with families, people that had never raced before and many youngsters taking part in their first race. The weather was kind by providing a Northerly force 2 – 3 which was enough for the experienced teams to enjoy themselves and to make good against the tide but not so much it created any problems for the novices. The sun even showed its face for a while.

On the inner course which had 46 boats racing it was Chris & Kathryn Nichols in their traditional clinker built Sprite who came in first, followed by Jess Taylor in her Laser Radial. Close behind in third was Kate Harmer in her Laser 4.7 followed by the first Optimist sailed by Mattie Evans. The first Topper in 7th was sailed by William Harrison and the first Mirror was Olivier Boutell & Crew.

The Cruisers and Keelboats had a fleet of 18 with a wide variety of boats that managed a close finish in the end with Barry Foulds helming his Parker 27 just piped R Roberts helming his Super Seal. In third place in the real classic East Coast One Design was Trevor Holder.

The biggest fleet was the General Handicap with 146 boats on the start line. The race team from Stone SC got the fleet away first time much to a lot of people's surprise. The Cats and 49ers led the way around the Island while the rest of the fleet followed taking different ways up the beat – some taking the shore line route and others sailing out into more open water. As the Cats sped off into the distance the tussle in the mid fleet was between the Fireballs, K6's, ISOs and 29ers. With so many boats on the race track those who did not have a good start had to sail for some time in dirty air.

The breeze suited the fast trapeze boats and this showed once the results had been calculated. The Hurricane of Trevor and Kevin Bawden came in first followed by the two Fireballs of Steve Jarred crewed by Nick Collins and Dave Hall crewed by Paul Constable. The 49er of Julian Wild & Ben Arnold that lead the way for a short while up the beat came in 4th. The first single hander was Terry Crook in a Blaze and the first 2 person non trapeze boat was Richard Parr & Simon Ellershaw in a 2000.

All in all a fantastic day, with so many boats on the river it was quite a spectacle. A big thanks must go to all the volunteers from all six clubs who made the event possible and to all the competitors along with their contributions.

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