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Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week 2016 - Day 4

by Fiona Brown 4 Aug 2016 07:44 BST 30 July - 5 August 2016

AOC and Just Trays Big Wednesday certainly lived up to it's name at Learning & Skills Solutions Pyefleet Week 2016. Although the sun returned it brought with it a gusty breeze which averaged around 16-18 knots but regularly gusted up towards 25 knots.

The Big Wednesday Race is run in memory of the late Reg White, Olympic Gold Medalist, Little America's Cup legend and life long member of Brightlingsea Sailing Club. The race does not count towards the overall points series, but does have a special trophy so normally attracts 120 or more entries. With such strong conditions though many competitors took the opportunity of a lazy day ashore enjoying the delights of Brightlingsea and lining it's famous Promenade to watch those who did choose to brave the conditions.

Race Officers Alan Hicks and Craig Bond set a special inshore course and took advantage of the south westerly wind to start the boats from the club line using a laid weather mark, rather than the more usual committee boat.

37 boats ranging from a Whisper foiling cat and an International Moth to several RS Fevas and RS Teras came to the line and made a spectacular sight as they shot off out of Brightlingsea Creek and into the River Colne. From the weather mark the fleet bore away to seaward on a high speed reach and boats were soon flying from wave to wave with spray everywhere.

There were a number of capsizes but ultimately everyone managed to right themselves and the patrol boat's were only required to stand by those self recovering rather than actually rescue anyone. As the race wore on the ebb tide began to build creating a steep wind over tide chop which made it even harder to keep the boats on their feet. Ultimately around half the fleet elected to retire, but not before they had enjoyed some incredible racing with everyone returning to the launch ramp with huge grins on their faces and tales of daring do to tell.

Race victory went to Fireball father and son team Pete and Tom Kyne who put in an outstanding performance to win by over six minutes. In second place was the F18 of Will Sunnucks with Andy Corby's Solo third and Steve William's Laser fourth. The 420 of Lucy Corby and James Haigh flew round the course and these two young sailors impressed everyone with their boat speed and handling, and with their fifth place finish.

Whilst the sailors were battling around the course there was plenty to keep the youngsters entertained ashore, including the annual Pyefleet Week Crabbing Competition where a significant proportion of Brightlingsea's crab population finds itself getting a delicious bacon snack and a short break in a bijou holiday bucket. Naturally no crabs were harmed in the running of the competition and with the winner declared all were released into the wild once more ready to be caught again next year.

AOC and Just Trays Big Wednesday is also the social highlight of the week and early evening saw more than 500 competitors, friends and family assembling on the beach for the Big Wednesday Prize Giving, BBQ and Caribbean Beach Party. As is traditional the rum punch was flowing and the BBQ was delicious and as this report goes to press the place is jumping to a live Caribbean steel band.

Racing continues until Saturday 6 August with up to three more races to sail for each class. Further information about the event including full results can be found at www.pyefleetweek.com

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