May 27-29th 2006
The CVRDA travellers came to Brightlingsea for their first East coast event. The club, tucked into the Colne estuary has a long history of champion sailors and provides varied sailing with a choice of creeks and estuaries and open sea.
Saturday was wet and no-one raced giving extra time to get set up and explore the local pubs.
Sunday dawned fair with a south westerly breeze. Race 1 on the incoming tide in a force 4 saw a committee boat start to a beat up river. Local sailors Graham Sanderson and Richard Mansfield in their beautifully restored Fireball no 6 “Six of the Best” (which does not have trapeze, spinnaker or spreaders!) took the lead from the OK of Alan Price who then dry capsized on the first gybe. He then went onto a tussle with Alan Williams in Finn 340 and they were followed by Jonathan Reuben and David Chivers in local Merlin 578, Richard Ham in Firefly 2891 and Shearwater Merlins 36 (John and Lyn Gardiner) and 2121 (Sandy Lavelle and Pat Jones ) who both struggled with top battens which would not tack even in the strong breeze.
After a pleasant lunch in the well supplied clubhouse the second race was started from the club line close inshore on the high tide. The Fireball retired when his jib fairlead parted company with the boat which left Alan’s Finn to lead the fleet followed by Jonathan’s Merlin and Sandy ‘s Merlin now tacking happily with a 1971 half battened sail. The course zig-zagged across the estuary on the outgoing tide giving some good runs and reaches and everyone gave a wide berth to the large cardinal and navigation marks due to the strong ebb tide. Alan’s OK followed closing the gap by the finish. All were dodging the yachts, motor boats and beginners in wayfarers from the Mersea sailing schools. The fleet was widely spaced with some making a wrong choice of side of the estuary and getting in the wind shadow of Mersea Island . Jonathan bravely tried the Merlin spinnaker on the run but was unable to pull away from Sandy goose-winging the wider planing boat. The tussle ended with a clang when Jonathan tried to lasso Point Clear mark with the boom and then got into irons on the 360 leaving Sandy to pull away and chase the Finn.
The fleet then enjoyed the hospitality of the club bar and the sunshine on the adjoining promenade.
Monday started cloudy with winds gusting force 4 to 5. The fleet was joined by a rare wooden decked Lark from the club but Alan’s OK suffered halyard failure on the jetty. A club line start was followed by a very choppy beat across and up river to Mersea wreck buoy, at which point the Firefly capsized and John and Lyn and the Lark decided to retire. Conditions improved rapidly on the next run and after negotiating the sailing school’s reefed Optimists and Toppers the course lay in the shelter of Mersea Island . The Fireball had sped off out of reach of the rest, who followed Jonathan’s Merlin . Alan in the Finn decide to reach rather than run after the first mark and was passed by Sandy who then managed to hold on to gain a seven second gap at the finish which was shortened to one lap due to the gusty conditions. Alan was followed home by the Firefly.
The weekend was rounded off with a prizegiving at which the club thanked the CVRDA for coming and reminding them of their heritage and history and invited them to return next year. The CVRDA would like to express their thanks to the club and to everyone involved for their kind hospitality and all hope that more boats would be able to attend this very enjoyable event in future