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Club Week at Blackwater Sailing Club

by Bec Hughes 25 Aug 2023 10:24 BST
Clem Evans and Rob Carver in the B14 during Blackwater SC Club Week © Zoe Nelson

Summer arrives in time for hotly-contested annual race series

Champagne sailing conditions graced the flagship event in the racing calendar at Blackwater Sailing Club.

Following on the heels of a successful Cadet Week for youngsters, Club Week saw competitors aged from four to over 80 taking to 128 boats to compete over six days, topped off with the standalone Regatta.

Summer 2023 finally delivered, with warm sunshine and perfect sailing winds providing sailors with ideal conditions and some memorable sailing on the upper reaches of the Blackwater Estuary.

There were 11 fleets in Club Week, run from 13 to 18 August, ranging from Optimists to Fast Cruisers. The largest fleet was Medium Handicap boasting 32 boats, followed by 23 Lasers, 15 Wayfarers, 14 Mirrors, nine Sprites and eight Fireballs.

The Club, in Heybridge, Essex, excelled with the logistics of launching, starting, finishing and returning them all within the confines of the tide.

Those not worn out by the sailing could enjoy a host of social events, from a quiz night to a 70s disco.

Sailing Secretary Steve Perkins said: "The week started with a gusty south-westerly Force 4 to 6, offering some challenging conditions, thrills and spills to keep our safety fleet busy, a few masts collecting mud from the bottom of the river, and lots of smiles and stories at the bar once ashore.

"Monday was slightly easier, steady Force 4, which pretty much stayed with us for the rest of the week, albeit from a different direction every day, keeping our Race Teams on their toes all week, working their way through the portfolio of courses!"

There was close racing all week, with the winners of each class competing for the 'Cock of the Club' in the recently-purchased Zest dinghies. Short races were set in front of the clubhouse, with participants cheered on by the crowd, each supporting their own class champion. The overall winner was Finn sailor Dan Dixon, showing once again his infamous ability to make any boat go that little bit faster.

The Regatta on Saturday 19 August finished the Week with a total of 61 boats in 11 classes, including Optimists, Mirrors, Toppers, Teras and Fevas, Fireballs, Medium Handicap, Lasers, Wayfarers, Sprites, Fast Handicap plus Fast and Club Cruisers.

While the boats were out racing, the crabbing competition saw 25 crabs caught, a few fish, jellyfish and a sea gooseberry. This was followed by the legendary greasy pole, which tested participants' balance; the open water swimming race, which tested their stamina; and the cork race, which tested their sportsmanship. The day finished with a hog roast and music.

Sheena Berney, Vice Commodore, said: "The Regatta was a fantastic family day for everyone and many thanks to all the volunteers who made the day such as a success."

Class winners of Club Week were:

  • Optimist - Callum Marshall
  • Mirror - Andy and Florence Pickering
  • Topper / Tera / Feva - Josephine Bernard (Tera)
  • Fireball - Charlie Stewart and Sue Gibson
  • Medium Handicap - Dan Dixon (Finn)
  • Laser - Ted Coday (Radial)
  • Wayfarer - Graham Hoy and Rob Haigh
  • Sprite - Hilary, Ina and Anna Gallo
  • Fast Handicap - Mike Iszatt (RS600)
  • Fast Cruiser - Nicky Johnson (Rascal)
  • Club Cruiser - George Whitchurch (Ffumbler)

Full results are on the Club website here.

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