The weather forecast of cold damp conditions with a cool northerly F4 breeze didn't deter four visitors from attending the three day bank holiday Gold Cup Regatta. This event is always held in Burnham and is the first of the National Squib Travellers' Series and for this year only, the 707 fleet joined us on the race course for their Eastern Area Championship, our other local race officer having other commitments.
DAY ONE SATURDAY
Racing for the 17 competitors was scheduled to start at 14:10, allowing the four visitors to rig and be launched with the club crane on the lunchtime tide. The two courses were set with the start in the mouth of the Roach, the 707s race course upwind of the Squib course, this giving fair tide beats with the north easterly breeze.
Race 1 was two laps, Lady Penelope and Spoof had a tight battle for the lead with Panimunta and Chequemate tussling just ahead of the rest of the fleet, but a schoolboy error by six boats, including Lady P who was in the lead, failed to pass through the leeward gate on way to finish, leading to their retirements, this giving Spoof the win from Panimunta and Chequemate with Frodo finishing a strong seventh to lead the Silver Fleet.
Race 2, another fair tide beat, the fleet compressing at windward marks, the boats choosing to hit south shore in clear air tending to gain the advantage. Panimunta rounded the windward mark clear ahead and kept their lead into the 2nd lap where they went for the finish, only to see the following fleet drop their kites at the gate and head upwind for a 3rd lap. This left Easy, Alchemy, Chequemate and Lady P line abreast on the last leg heading for the gate, with slightly more speed on the outside.
Easy and Chequemate headed from the right hand gate mark towards the pin for the finish while Lady Penelope and Alchemy gybed for the committee boat, the outside paying, giving Easy her first win ahead of Chequemate and Lady Penelope, with Frodo leading the silver fleet again in 13th.
With the late finish, those sailors not attending Piers and Naomi’s wedding celebrations joined in après race beers at the RCYC, which rolled into a bistro upstairs followed by the late gate crashing of the RBYC disco where several visitors were noted for their interesting dancing techniques trying unsuccessfully to impress local girls, which may work in other counties, but definitely not in Essex!
DAY TWO SUNDAY The start was scheduled for 10:40, with damp conditions and numerous thick heads, most of fleet were just hoping to survive the day. However, the rain stopped and four excellent races were quickly completed in the NE breeze giving very close racing again in the entrance to the Roach River.
Race 3, Guy Fawkes made their mark and disappeared on the first beat to lead handsomely at the windward mark from Chequemate, but with a three lap course Chequemate managed to grind away at Guy Fawkes' lead to just pip them for their first win with Panimunta 3rd and Frodo, setting the scene, winning the silver fleet again.
Race 4, this time not to be outdone by 'The Yellow Peril',(Guy Fawkes) Lady P and Spoof got away in clear air leaving the rest of fleet short tacking amongst themselves on the Foulness shore, Lady P winning from Spoof with 'The Peril' proving the previous race wasn’t a fluke in 3rd, Frodo again leading the silver fleet in 12th place.
Race 5, the wind flicked towards north, Lady Penelope started at the pin, tacked onto port and cleared the fleet, whilst Chequemate started at the committee boat on port and both only had a short tack onto starboard to round the mark 1st and 2nd. With only two laps and the tide slackening, the positions were close, but Lady Penelope managed to hold off Chequemate for her second win with Spoof in 3rd and Frodo finishing another strong 7th in the silver fleet.
Race 6, the last of the day, the Race Officer was keen to get the fleet away before the tide turned completely, leaving the course unchanged. This meant another tight port biased start in the making.
Dave 'pin end' White won the start in Easy tacked off leading the fleet, Panimunta, Alchemy, Hussar and Lady Penelope battled for places behind. On the last windward mark it was Easy from Panimunta and Alchemy, however with the 707 fleet also heading towards the finish, Lady Penelope hooked a ride to slip past Hussar and Alchemy to finish 3rd to Pani Munta and Easy’s 2nd win. This time the silver fleet winner was Simon and Sarah on What’s the Story.
The fleet headed home, after a cracking day’s typical Burnham style racing for a restful late afternoon, followed by the sociable Gold Cup Dinner shared with our friendly 707 fleet at the RCYC.
DAY THREE MONDAY
With a forecast of a southerly breeze, the committee boat headed off into the River Roach to try and lay a course in the light shifting wind for the last two scheduled races. At this point in the regatta there was a possibility that six boats could still win.
However, the wind wasn’t playing ball, flicking between south and east restricting PRO Kim Allen’s options. He took the brave decision to move upriver, the fleet pursuing on a lovely reach in, by now, brilliant sunshine, up the Crouch to near theCliff buoy and set the course. With the time limit rapidly approaching, it was obvious that there was only going to be one race, which now left only three boats in contention for the regatta.
Race 7 The fleet got away cleanly again giving a regatta with no recalls, meaning either we were all very well behaved or the PRO should have gone to Spec Savers!
In the very light shifty conditions the fleet split to each side of the river, there were all sorts of place changing and odd manoeuvres at the windward mark against the strong flood tide, except for the very consistent Chequemate who showed the fleet a clean pair of heels. Spoof and Lady Penelope could only watch events near the back of the fleet as Chequemate won by a leg from Alchemy and Guy Fawkes, with What’s the Story finishing in 10th to win the silver fleet race.
The time limit had now expired and this gave a well deserved Gold Cup victory to Ian Gray and Ian Simmons on Chequemate, with Spoof runners up and Lady Penelope 3rd and Frodo winning the Silver Fleet.
THE SILVER CUP
The Silver Cup was the original Gold Cup, until all the Gold was polished off by an over enthusiastic winner, and in previous years it has been awarded to the runner up. However, this year it was decided to have a Silver Fleet trophy to encourage, what is quite often the backbone of the local fleets and class, and hopefully entice some extra visitors to the river for future Gold Cups.
We had five boats competing in the silver fleet, Mike Bradley’s Frodo with Jools Briggs won the Silver Cup, but was pushed hard by Simon Saunders in What’s the Story, crewed by his daughter Hannah Tavener. Simon unfortunately didn’t have a crew for races 1 and 2 and had to count a DNS in his overall result.