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EAORA Offshore Regatta, East Coast Race / Fastnet Qualifier, Cannon Ball Race & Graham Wallis Trophy

by Paul Wood 23 Jun 2023 10:33 BST 15-18 June 2023
EAORA Offshore Regatta © Claire Scott

On Thursday 15th June it was the RORC East Coast Race, the IRC yachts faced tricky conditions as the forecast was very mixed. There was a total of 23 yachts on the start line, racing from Harwich to Ostend, eight yachts from Haven Combined Clubs in their Mercator race and also one yacht from the Mocra fleet, Shockwave being the only trimaran in the class.

A 120 mile course was set to take the fleet deep into the Thames Estuary amongst the sand banks. After twelve hours of racing, the coastline of Clacton was still visible to many of the fleet. Light winds and tidal gates affected the back end of the fleet, whilst the faster class one yachts escaped across the North Sea to Ostend. Richard Mathews from the West Mersea YC with his Carkeek CF52 Oystercatcher XXXV crossed the finish line with an elapsed time of 13 hours and 45 minutes.

The second yacht to arrive Friday morning was Ross Eldred from the Medway YC at 02.28 with the rest of the fleet arriving during the early hours and throughout the day. The last boat to finish was Magic Moments a Sigma 33 from Haven Port YC sailed two handed by father and son, Andy & Pelham Etherington, crossed the line some 32 hours later with an entry into Ostend harbour with horns blowing and cheers from fellow competitors already comfortable on the Royal North Sea Yacht club balcony, Speaking to Andy during the prize-giving his words were "Retirement is not an option".

In the meantime, the EAORA race committee had been busy getting wine and 200 cans of complimentary beer chilled, ready for the prize-giving. The party took place on the central jetty in the marina, present was the Commodore of the Royal North Sea Yacht Club Jan Gabriel who had also raced his Mills 37 Ragazza IV and was third overall and was delighted to be on the podium to collect some glassware.

Richard Matthews informed the fleet during the prize-giving, that sadly Piet Vroon who raced his yacht Tonnerre had passed away the night before, during the East Coast Race. Piet had been an amazing supporter of RORC & EAORA and our condolences go to his family.

Saturday the 17th was another early start with yachts racing to Ramsgate for the Medway YC's Cannonball trophy, more favourable conditions and tides made it an easy passage to Ramsgate with the fleet under spinnaker for most of the race. Oystercatcher XXXV was first again with an elapsed time of 5 hours & 32 minutes. Followed by Ross Eldred and Mercury, third went to Michael & Jason Wheeler with their classic S&S Golden Fleece from West Mersea YC.

The prize-giving was held in the Royal Temple Yacht Club, another busy night for everyone at the club as there was the prize-giving for the Link Cup from Boulogne.

The final day of the Offshore Regatta was a 47 mile race from Ramsgate back to Harwich for the Medway YC's Graham Wallis Trophy. Windrunner the committee boat was on station West of the South Shelf buoy by noon ready for the finishers.

We were expecting a fairly quick race with a good south easterly breeze with lots of reaching and running, the course was set to sail up the black deep channel and the winds stayed constant. Oystercatcher XXXV arrived in just over five hours, Golden Fleece was second and Robert Leggett was third with his X322 Ape-X from Haven Port yacht Club, fourth was Sunstone another Classic S&S design yacht owned by Will & Jenny Taylor-Jones from Royal Harwich YC. Great to see two classic wooden yachts in the top four, it proves that its not always about carbon fibre and Kevlar racing sails.

Overall, the regatta was a great success for the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association, with a good size fleet and over 220 sea miles covered in three days. For the committee it was great to see newcomers to EAORA, without naming them all, it is lovely to welcome William Sunnucks with his Grand Soleil 46.3 Sweet Caroline, William for years has been flying high on trapezes on foiling catamarans. We also had Simon Farren with Tiente Forte a Sintesi 45 from the Colne YC. Stalwart supporters Paul Scott with Spirit, who sailed into Ostend Marina with starter motor problems, once it was replaced on the Saturday, he re-joined the fleet for Sunday's race up to Harwich. And of course, our sponsor DXB Pumps Simon Ruffles with his J120 Jameerah with his European crew.

EAORA is part of the RORC Fastnet qualifying process and we wish all our yachts the very best of luck in this year's Fastnet race which starts on the 22nd July on the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes.

For a list of the overall results for the Offshore regatta please see www.eaora.org.uk

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