Topic : Lowestoft and Oulton Broad Weekend

We have been asked by our hosts at Royal Norfolk & Suffolk to find out what they can do to encourage a higher turnout at their Merlin weekened events. Just 10 Merlins competed this weekend and the Organisers are concerned that continued low turnouts will mean that the event will not be viable in future years. We were asked to canvass opinion as to why the turnout was so low and what they could do to encourage people for future reference?

Posted: 29/07/2008 10:36:42
By: MR 3670 + Trolley Dolly
Sorry I couldn't be at the events, but a copy of the ST results for the Gorleston/Waveny days would be very useful for my ST calculations.

Thank you.

Posted: 29/07/2008 11:00:48
By: Chris Downham
I would guess that most of the travelling Merlins go to Salcombe and/or the Nationals so many won't have the time to travel to another event in between.

What we need is more ST events at clubs who can guarantee a 30+ turnout such as Tamesis, Hampton and Cookham. Maybe this can be done by reclassifying some of the larger restricted events as being open water?


Posted: 29/07/2008 13:55:08
By: Brian
I agree it's a shame that out of the 7 river clubs racing Merlin' s some with large fleets they only rate one ST between them. 
I would guess that the club racing at most had more merlins that at the ST last weekend.

That said it's also a shame that the ST was not well supported.

Posted: 29/07/2008 14:08:23
By: RH
think there were 11 out at Shoreham - guess people are wanting to get a bit of sea practice in before the champs? We were going to come but were put off by the 4 hour drive. Having said that, I did it a few years ago and really enjoyed it so would be a shame to lose it off the calendar.

Posted: 29/07/2008 15:00:03
By: dangerous
As Brian points out, perhaps the East Anglian weekend was a bit too much for the recently well-travelled ST circuit contingent, especially with the Nationals less than three weeks away.  Also, it is holiday season.  Club racing turnouts at Tammy are lower around this time of year.

On the question of reclassifying restricted events, how about creating a new 'river' category for the ST calendar? You could award ST status to say two or three river clubs each year rotating between, for example, Ranelagh, Tamesis, Hampton, Cookham, Upper Thames and Trent Valley. You can then redefine the 'restricted' category as inland lakes and reservoirs only.

Posted: 29/07/2008 15:22:49
By: Richard (3233)
The Lowestoft (Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Y C.) and Oulton Broad (Waveney & Oulton Broad.) All Rounder Weekend - a splendid conception at two fabulous venues was never numerically popular even the big fleet days of the sixties. Indeed I sailed in every one between 1961 and 1970 and do not remember for instance the Harris Brothers ever coming-  even though they lived at the end of the A12. Because of the big seas we did endure a number of cancelled sea days but since we were going to Oulton any way we just moved earlier! Sea Silver Tiller points gone, but we did get to sail. Oulton Broad can be a bit shallow in the North Bay but courses seldom go there.
One bank Holiday weekend we managed to race at sea on the Saturday on the Broad on Sunday and then on Monday to race up the dyke on the River Waveney. It remains one of the great sailing weekends, I even took Pat Blake for a cruise in a Broads One Design after racing,
Even to their best friends Lowestoft and Oulton Broad are not in the Salcombe stakes as a family holiday, or as a venue for the WAGS or HABFS but if you want to sail/race 10 hours a day in a cocktailof classses, and drink most of the rest Oulton Broad Regatta Week remains a must do. - It was here the Fireball first sailed in 1961. – Camping difficult, accommodation not that easy but the RN&SYC does rooms and Lowestoft/Oulton Broad is stacked with B&B’s and Hotels.
East Anglia is still cut off by water and the road and rail system. The A17, A14, A11 & A12 roads are not very good, (Certainly not North of Ipswich, Newmarket or East of Norwich and Ely.) and because of the fens, rivers and broads the kiwi has to walk a deal further than the crow flies. Both its airports have restricted and very seasonal services.
However the “Kingdomesque” big open skies offer amazing views, the out of the way pubs are fantastic, both clubs are hospitable to the point of embarrassment, all good reasons for going. The journey always was worth it, I’d bet it still is. Sorry I cannot think of anything beyond saying "DO GO" but with the Commodore of the RN&SYC a former Merlin Rocket sailor and David Hannant at WOBYC a former Merlin Rocket sailor and class secretary to boot, I'm sure the local goodwill to the class is enormous and they would love to continue it.

Posted: 29/07/2008 17:50:19
By: Ancient Geek
We would have been there having planned to go for both events but we had to move our hols so it clashed with the end of them and then my wife was enticed into doing the "Run for Life" and didn't realize that that clashed with the Sunday.

It is rumored that the move to Gorelston put a couple off doing the Sea bit on the grounds it is "not a nice place" though I can't comment having never been there!

Posted: 29/07/2008 18:07:15
By: DaveC
i was intending to go but things conspired against me.

Posted: 29/07/2008 18:16:48
By: Chris M
Alex told me I couldn't go... so I didn't.

Posted: 29/07/2008 22:24:34
By: Captain Ross
It is a little too far out for me I am affraid as much as I would like to do these things I must save my feul for the closer ones such as all our local river club!? Have to agree with Brian that it is a shame the River Clubs seem to have been forgoten. I for one am intending to go to Hampton and probably Tammy too.

Why have alot of the opens become two days for ST results aswell? I work allot of Saturdays and so it becomes a little pointless going for one day. I don't remember Parkstone being two days, but it may be me?!

Posted: 30/07/2008 08:09:29
By: Jez3550
With all due respect to those that do it and love doing it river sailing is a bit of an aquired taste! I'm sure that any of the clubs on the Thames would get a large turnout for an ST but how many would be "visitors" would have travelled further than the Thames basin? How many river ST visitors partake in the rest of the circuit? Yes, the ST circuit is won by the best "all round" sailor, but we have restricted water events coming out of our ears and there are not enough weeks in the season to give an ST to every event that wants one.

With the two day thing i think this is a good thing for clubs at the extreme ends of country that are a long way from anywhere. You don't have to get up at an ungodly hour to get there on time and you can usually be home at a sensible time too. Travelling for 3 hours, 3 races and then a 3 hour drive back is no fun and opens like Parkstone, Salcombe, Whitstable and the Norfolk weekend would not be as well attended as they are if they weren't two day affairs.

I suppose remoteness is a major problem with the norfolk weekend. The bank holiday format works becasue you have got all of Saturday to get there. For me the only sensible way to do it this year would have been to go on Friday - this was no problem as i'm off work - but it then has potential to become quite expensive, food, beer and accommodation all add up and the champs is only a couple of weeks away.

Posted: 30/07/2008 09:02:30
By: Chris M
Erm, sorry I disagree Chris with the "restricted waters events coming out of our ears" - nearest one for us is 4 hours away - either in London (Ranelagh - boat not ready; Wembley - have to do to qualify for the ST) or Birmingham.

Having just driven to Great Yarmouth for work, the last thing I am going to do is do it again for a while (8 hours for reference). Not every event will have 30 boats, which is good as it gets lower points for the keenies that want to travel to get up the Silver Tiller rankings. I recall my old helm and I got a 2nd at a very lowly attended Bala open once in the 1990's, made a good deal of difference to our total points at the Silver Tiller Dinner later in the year!!

Posted: 30/07/2008 09:21:41
By: Andy Hay - Enchantment 3386
I think you need to know that it was an extremely enjoyable weekend with 'real sea sailing' on Saturday and serious boat handling practice on Sunday - just as it was billed.
Fortunately the competition was good - very good - the racing was much closer than you might think by looking at Biggsy's results. I am sure he would agree that he had to work hard - even though he did win both!
Gorleston is a proper seaside venue with holidaymakers on the beach, sea front - a real old fashioned holiday town and the club was as friendly and helpful as could be. Brian set his usual long course - which tested us on straight-line boat speed and tidal tactics.
Then 25 of us went back to Royal Nobs and Snobs for dinner on Saturday night. One advantage of not having so many boats is that everyone gets to meet up.
The other point to mention is the weather - which was great too!
I, for one, was pleasantly surprised because the website forecasts were not encouraging. This has happened a lot lately - I suspect that some people were put off travelling by those forecasts.
I know all of us who went really enjoyed it - this always happens. Do we all have such short memories that we forget what a great part of the world East Anglia is?

Posted: 30/07/2008 10:14:36
By: Pat Blake
So good to see a posative spin on quite the best part of the UK. 
Of course many of the locals prefer the peace and quiet of the area, which is one reason; no doubt; why Gordon Brown has chosen to holiday in East Anglia!

Posted: 30/07/2008 10:39:30
By: Ancient Geek
From a yachty perspective (which was my holiday which got in the way) East Anglia is an awful place.  It is crowded with boring scenery.  There are no secluded anchorages or quiet rivers and everywhere is populated with motor boats and jet skis.  Marina berths are at a premium and need to be booked days in advance.  The mud banks make sailing in a straight line impossible and if you do want to go "abroad" the french coast is miles/hours away - Holland is all so very boring!

I recommend anyone who want to take a yachting holiday do it on the south coast - I recommend the Solent and Cowes in particular next week. :-)

Posted: 30/07/2008 12:04:03
By: DaveC
It sounds a great weekend and having sailed on the Broads, I know how pretty that part of the world is.  My father learnt to sail on the Norfolk Broads back in the late 1950s and loves the sailing there.  Unfortunately, without a fully functioning boat at present the weekend was out for me.

On the completely separate issue of ST status for river venues, Chris says "we have restricted water events coming out of our ears". However, this year's programme has 7 open water events (5 estuary/sea and 2 large reservoir) and 7 sea events, while there are 6 restricted water events (smaller reservoir/lake) and 1 river event. That's hardly biased in favour of restricted venues, river or otherwise.

Whether river sailing is an acquired taste or not, it represents an important aspect of the history of this class and river clubs have quite a large proportion of its membership. I'd argue that adding say one or two river venues to the ST circuit on an annual rotational basis is quite fair. As they're already in the calendar, albeit as part of a local circuit, they won't be adding any more pressure to the racing calendar.

Posted: 30/07/2008 12:06:00
By: Richard (3233)
If you look back a few years in 1994 there were 5 ST's on rivers:

Trent Valley
Up River

and now we're lucky if we get one. I think one of the reasons is the modern merlin with it's dropped stems and flattened stern, whilst quick in open water , tacks like a dog compared to older boats (vintage , nsm2's etc.) Maybe the top boys don't like being beaten by a 50 yer old vintage merlin !

Posted: 30/07/2008 13:14:49
By: RH
Well Ranelagh for instance has similar attendance problems to East Anglia, not so Cookham? As to the attractions of Cowes "Oh the noise, Oh the people" you can of course catch ferries from Harwich to Denmark & Holland only to France from Portsmouth or Poole! Southampton and Bournemouth airports have been described as hamburger stalls where aircraft land and take off occcasionaly.
Regatta numbers across classes have with exceptions been declining.

Posted: 30/07/2008 13:26:24
By: .
As far as the original post goes I don't think the format of this event should be changed,we had an excellent weekend,well organised,very friendly and with a high standard of close very competitive sailing.No-one who attended had a problem with going to Gorleston which is a charming seaside town, with a lovely SANDY beach and an enormous sailing area.Oulton broad is,as Pat says,a real test of boat handling in the heart of broadland, one of the country's most beautiful sailing venues.I certainly couldn't fault any aspect of it. We all have to drive for the S/T anyway so it doesn't matter if it's Oulton Hollingworth or Parkstone it's going to take a while to get there,if you want to do it,thats the way it is.If you don't go to the Norfolk weekend you're missing out.

Posted: 30/07/2008 13:42:22
By: Ben3634
Simply bad timing for us this year. When we did go I think it was on the Aug Bank Hol

Posted: 30/07/2008 23:10:25
By: Alan F
Same for us, but we've been the last 3 years running and think this weekend is great! Also prefer the bank holiday weekend format.

Posted: 30/07/2008 23:18:53
By: Michelle & Andy
I had intended to go until I realised that Pete was at a wedding near Shoreham on Saturday so went there and club raced on Sunday instead. Was slightly put off by change of launch site and a little confused as to where I was meant to be going - if there were facilities there etc. so I do not think that helped but I did not investigate in too much detail as had decided not to go by the Wednesday before. Having it the weekend before Shoreham will have left many with a choice between the two and Shoreham is pretty hard to compete with.

Posted: 31/07/2008 13:00:47
By: Mark
It was very clearly explained.

Posted: 31/07/2008 13:36:43
By: .
The weekend was great fun and the weather was fantastic for both sailors and  trolley dollies.  All I can say is that these Norfolk clubs do not have active travelling merlin sailors so they lose out on giving their event publicity and providing people with any extra information.  They need therefore to post as detailed information as possible about the event on the merlin site.  

Also perhaps clubs with less contact with the merlin fleet that are holding merlin events should have a sign up system on the merlin website similar to the one used for the inlands or the champs. Then the hosts can see roughly how many people to expect so that they don't over cater which was a problem they had on Saturday at Gorleston Sailing Club.

If all else fails perhaps free booze might entice everyone up there!!

See you at Shoreham


Posted: 31/07/2008 19:54:10
By: Lizzy Page and Phil Dalby
I really enjoyed this weekend and sailed on two good pieces of water. The hosts were wonderful and profesional. Great bacon rolls at Gorlston and enjoyed the tussle for positions with Ben. Not sure what the final results were. I would recommend this event to anyone.

Posted: 31/07/2008 22:00:18
By: Jon 3581
I must confess when I said the format shouldn't be changed,I hadn't considered the possibility of free beer!

Posted: 02/08/2008 12:47:22
By: Ben 3634


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