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Sprite Week 2024 at Blackwater Sailing Club celebrates 90th anniversary of Sprite class

by Gay Ayton 13 Jun 13:56 BST 3-7 June 2024
Sprite Week at Blackwater SC celebrates 90th anniversary of the class © Zoe Nelson

Celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year, the Blackwater Sailing Club was also delighted to be able to celebrate the 90th anniversary of its own classic racing fleet the Sprites with a 'World Championship' sailed at the club during the annual Sprite Week 2024.

The Sprite, a 14ft clinker built, half decked dinghy design by Robert N Stone was launched in Brightlingsea in 1934 and has been sailed on the River Blackwater ever since.

The appeal of these colourfully painted boats still attracts helms and crews of all ages and this year they ranged from early thirties to their mid-eighties with one crew coming from as far as Australia. As is often the case for racing at the Sailing Club many were family members of the original Sprite owners and sailors adding to the historic occasion.

Fourteen boats took part over five days of very competitive and challenging racing in variable winds at the beginning of June to win the coveted Heron Cup.

The single-handed race was won by Marcus Gallo in Djinn (15) and the Crew's race by Ben Phipps in Jack O'Lantern (33).

Marcus Gallo, Sprite Class Captain, said: "The Sprite continues to be a great little boat for competitive racing and this week was no exception as we battled it out over the five days in typical Blackwater weather from no wind to almost too much and from all directions too.

"It's about having fun too with racing for the Calamity Cup during the previous weekend and prizes to sailors for notable highlights or who experienced mishaps during the week - there was a pair of armbands to one unlucky helm who slipped and fell in the river when rounding a race mark. Of course, there's always plenty of tea and homemade cakes to enjoy after an exhausting day on the water too."

The Club would like to thank all those involved in making this year's Sprite Week such a successful event and especially to Marcus Gallo for his hard work and enthusiasm in ensuring the Sprites continue to thrive.

Overall results:

1st Steve and Mark Jarred - Pegasus (boat number 210)
2nd Ian Barbrook and David Nichols - Banshee (14)
3rd Chris Briggs and David Banfield - Ceres (27)

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