Friday evening saw a flurry of activity in the club with registration and weighing in of the twenty competitors in the Dragon East Coast Championship. Thirteen local entries were joined by five visitors from around the UK, Herbie from Belgium and Yevis II from Japan.
After a competitor briefing by the PRO, Edwin Buckley, the competitors followed the committee boat to the Roach for an 11:00 start for the first of the three scheduled races on Saturday. Races were windward leewards with a 60 minute time limit (in other words, we kept going round the course until the lead boat beat across the start/finish line after a minimum of 60 minutes). Competitors were treated to typical Burnham racing with plenty of close quarters tacking against the tide, which resulted in a big spread of the fleet across the course.
The wind remained relatively constant and no general recalls were required, so all three races were completed in quick succession, with competitors getting back to the club for a well-earned drink before thundershowers hit. After confirmation that none of the red flags had actually resulted in a protest, the daily prize giving commenced at 17:00.
Race winners were awarded glassware, then a daily draw was held for gifts from our Japanese visitors and goodies from Harken and Marinestore. The Aberdeen Asset Management spinnaker was given to GBR722 Avalanche to fly the following day as the lead boat.
Despite a quick swim by the helmsman mid race, GBR708 Rumours was lying in second, and GBR610 Rackham in third. The day concluded with the excellent Brasserie meal and music by Leanne and Lynsey upstairs. Our Japanese visitors said they felt as though they’d done three years' worth of tacking in one day – Welcome to Burnham!
Sunday morning brought very similar conditions to Saturday, but with a slightly earlier start of 11:00 and the racing marks being laid a little further up the Roach. The day was not incident free with a number of groundings and close encounters, a few competitors on the wrong side of the start line in the final race, and an incident which left our two international visitors with their masts tangled, but despite this, all three races were completed in good time.
The event concluded with the prize giving dinner. After yet another stunning meal, and some light entertainment in the form of a poem from "Roger the RIB", it was time to move on to another daily draw for more goodies from Marinestore and a spinnaker pole from Petticrow.
After thank yous to the craning team (Dan, Ian, Mark, Nigel), the registration team (Annie, Gerry and Mary), the mark layers (Mark and Roger) and the Race team lead by Edwin and Kim, it was time to move onto the prize giving.
Close racing and some tactical manoeuvres gave the East Coast Championship to GBR708 Rumours (Quentin Strauss, Pedro Andrade and Mike Claxton) on count back, with GBR722 Avalanche (Mark and Mandy Wade and Andrew Norden) in second overall, also winning the trophy for first Corinthian.
Third place (and second Corinthian) went to GBR788 Quicksilver VI (Rob Campbell, Jonathan Hill and Lukasz Malissa). A big thank you to Waples Wines and Blackjack Design for providing prizes for these competitors. The evening concluded with the award of a final prize from Waples Wines to Andrew Moss as compensation for having a close encounter with a boom, we just hope the boom wasn't dented!
They call it 'champagne sailing' and for the greater part it was even accounting for Humoresque's bloodied transom and running aground whilst trying to down a sandwich between races.
I am always amazed at how well these events work, but perhaps I shouldn't be. Both behind the scenes and racing it all works so well, perhaps I choose to ignore René's exhausted demeanour as she came off the water on Sunday, or some of the 'interesting' boat to boat situations we saw on the Roach; but when you see the spirit and camaraderie apparent at the event's end, you appreciate the privilege and enjoyment of taking part and the effort required from organisers and competitors to make it all work.
Many thanks to all those involved in making the weekend work so well, organisers and competitors. I doubt there are many venues visitors enjoy as much as RCYC.