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East Anglian Offshore Racing Association Buckley Goblets - West Mersea to Ostend

by Cathy Brown 16 Sep 2019 16:37 BST 6 September 2019
Richard Matthews' custom Kerr 51 Oystercatcher XXXIII © Paul Wood

Was it a new record? Richard Matthews' custom Kerr 51 Oystercatcher XXXIII completed the Buckley Goblets 85-mile course in a remarkable six hours and nine and a half minutes. He had finished the race a matter of a minute quicker in a bigger Oystercatcher, a few years ago, but this year an additional mark had been added to the course, making it half a mile longer, so yes, it was a new record.

It was a very satisfying way for Oystercatcher XXXIII to bow out, winning the final race of the season by more than an hour on corrected time, having already clinched the season's championship. It was also the 15th time Richard, a long-time competitor in EAORA, had had won the Goblets. He was also celebrating his seventh overall championship - all won in different boats.

This was Oystercatcher XXXIII's final race for Richard. The new owner, John Raymont, who is taking her to California and renaming her, appropriately, Fastexit II, was on board to enjoy the very fast - and very wet - trip, the speed machine surfing at up to 20 knots, with a lot of water crossing the decks.

The race, which attracted ten starters despite a somewhat challenging forecast, was very much a game of two halves. The first twenty miles, from the start line, out of the Blackwater and then down the Wallet to North-East Gunfleet, provided an exhilarating spinnaker run, with a stiff breeze and a spring ebb making for extremely fast progress.

At North-East Gunfleet everything changed. For most boats it was down to plain sail, and in many cases a reef or two, for the reach to Long Sand Head, where they headed up again, fortunately not quite hard on the strengthening westerly wind for the fetch to the new mark, Twin, and then on to Buitenstroombank and the finish line at Binnenstroombank, just off the piers at Ostend.

There was around 25 knots of breeze most of the way across, gusting at times to well over 30, with the sea state building accordingly. There were some spectacular "hills" which proved challenging for the lightweight flyers, but really suited the two graceful 1970s classics in Class Three.

Michael Wheeler's lovely S and S 41 Golden Fleece was second overall, finishing four hours behind Oystercatcher, and John Munns' Nicholson 43 Dark Horse was third, finishing just over five minutes behind Golden Fleece.

Faster boats finished ahead of them on the water, but could not save their time in such conditions.

So the top three boats were all sailed by members of West Mersea YC, host club for this historic race - being contested for the 70th time in the 70th anniversary year of EAORA.

But special credit goes to Victoria, the Archambault 31 owned by Dave and Adrian Gibbons of Colne YC, the smallest - and probably wettest - boat in the fleet, which finished fourth overall, a remarkable achievement under the circumstances, pipping her great rival Paul Scott's Sigma 38 Spirit, and thus ensuring second overall for the season's championship, and overall victory in class two.

Thanks again to MS Amlin which generously sponsored EAORA's memorable 70th anniversary season.

Buckley Goblets overall:

1 Oystercatcher XXXIII, Ker 51 Custom, Richard Matthews, West Mersea YC
2 Golden Fleece, S and S 41, Michael Wheeler, WMYC
3 Dark Horse, Nicholson 43, John Munns, WMYC
4 Victoria, Archambault 31, Dave and Adrian GIbbons, Colne YC
5 Spirit, Sigma 38, Paul Scott, Haven Ports YC
6 Brave, Arcona 410, Richard and Cathy Brown, Haven Ports YC

Class One:

1 Oystercatcher XXXIII
2 Brave
3 Salt, Maxi 1300, Gareth Jordan, WMYC

Class Two:

1 Victoria
2 Spirit
3 Lyra of London, Swan 431, Miles Delap, Royal Corinthian YC

Class 3:

1 Golden Fleece
2 Dark Horse

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