East Anglia Weekend 2006

Saturday: Waverney & Oulton Broad Sailing Club
Sunday: Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club (Lowestoft)
The Norfolk weekend is brilliant! I love it, both times I have been itís been the best weekend of the year for sailing. The two venues provide an excellent mix of sailing with the shifty inland stuff on the Sunday and a blast at sea on the Monday. Thereís also the great facilities at RNSYC which pretty much guarantee a top notch social with a meal in the restaurant, plenty to drink in the bar and beds to crawl into upstairs. Anyway, enough of that, back to the sailing.

Sunday dawned with plenty of breeze and sun to go with it. After a quick briefing and some light entertainment provided by the morning club race, the competitors hit the water for the first start. Thereís not much I can say about this start because I donít really know what happened, it was all pretty chaotic! All I remember is being quite surprised that we hadn't ended up wiping out either another Merlin or one of the many Ďrecreational craftí that decided it was a good time to try and get past while 20 odd Merlins were lining up. It was worse than Salcombe!

It was tricky conditions, with plenty of gusts and shifts to keep everyone on their toes and there was loads of switching positions. The leading 3, Winder and Felix, Ellie and Rich, and our new class champs Willie and Robinson, had a right good little battle! That is until Winder and Felix decided they wanted a quick dip and put it in on the beat, leaving us to take the gun, with Willie and Chris in 2nd, and Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood in 3rd.

Race 2 was pretty much the same conditions with the breeze giving the people at the club and on the bank something to watch. The start had plenty of port bias but was slightly less crazy than the first. We managed to cross the fleet on port and got round the windward mark first, holding the lead from there. Winder and William again did plenty of switching for 2nd and 3rd with William and Chris eventually pulling through.

For race 3 the wind had swung round giving us a bit of a reach by the club to play with. Again we took the lead with Winder and Willie hot on our heels. Everything was going great until the last run to the finish. We gybed off leaving Winder and Felix to carry on, getting the breeze first and sailing right past us to take line honours and therefore 2nd overall, with William in 3rd and Richard and I taking the trophy home.

After packing up and getting a drink at the prize-giving, the sailors thanked Oulton and Waverly for their hospitality and headed off across town to the yacht club for tea (or dinner if thatís what you want to call it) and more drinks. The yacht club restaurant did a brilliant job, getting our orders taken early so we could all sit down together for our meal. As usual the wine flowed, this time with a bit of encouragement from Matt Biggs who generously sorted the table with a fair few bottles to get us started. Matt had earlier confused the fleet (well me at least) with his stealth jib, its completely see through! Crazy! I will have to find some photos. Anyway...

After the meal and a few more drinks in the club bar, the few left standing after the tiring day crossed the road to the Harbour pub were the karaoke was in full swing. One of my last memories of the evening was Robinson trying to rally the troops to sing ďLike a VirginĒ! I donít know if he did it, you may have ask Alex about that one.

Morning brought another brilliant day with the sun shining and a nice force 4/5 blowing off the shore. There was plenty of tide too to give us more to think about! After the briefing and a quick study of the map showing the race marks we launched for our 'navigational exercise'. It is a brilliant race, stupidly long but great fun, thereís nothing else like it on the Silver Tiller.

The fleet got away without any recalls, saving time for the proper stuff. We were first round the windward, but this time Felix and Winder got past us on the reach, only to have the lead swiped at the next windward mark by Willie and Chris who had a cracking beat. Next was a REALLY long two-sail reach with loads of gusts and lulls coming off the shore making it surprisingly tiring as you just couldn't settle down. William set the pace for the next few legs till we were reaching with the kite up from the marina down to mark E, some 2 miles. Here it got quite exciting; we came planing down in A LOT of wind. There was more boat out of the water than I thought was possible without the assistance of a trolley, I had a lovely view of the top half of the centreboard from the transom! It was on one of these gusts, I guess, that Robinson and Willie ran out of room to bear away and just got blown in leaving us to chase Dave and Felix for first.

We eventually got past these two, who claim they weren't pushing it because their spreader was being held together by tape, huh, yeah right I thought, until I saw it fall off their mast when they were de-rigging. So the final results after a 14 mile course was Ellie and Rich in first, Windy and Felix in 2nd, Willie and Christopher in 3rd and Duncan and Ian in 4th. Thatís consistency for you!

It was a brilliant sail, I donít think I saw one unhappy face in the boat park! The course was great with ridiculously long reaches and the novel experience of surfing upwind heading in towards the pier. Last year it was the best sail of my life, and I think this year it outdid that. I canít wait to go back! I really do love this weekend. And whatís more we were on the road by 2.30 for our trip home for afternoon tea. Quality!

Report: Elie Bremer