A Lone Swallow

BRe “Escape” at the Morston Regatta

Last year Kim & I took part in the Morston Regatta (North Norfolk coast) in a borrowed Cockle (15ft gaff rigged, simulated clinker fibreglass hull).  My sister and brother-in-law who sail theirs regularly comfortably beat us as did most of the Cockle fleet! So this year I decided to take our BRe, Escape, to the event.

A little bit about the location and event. The race takes place in Blakeney Pit (see map) starting at the entrance to Blakeney Cut (East end of the Pit). It is a staggered start with boats sailing off the bank (Monte Carlo style) at preset times depending on handicap. Which bank depends on the prevailing wind but normally it is the muddy one.  The course heads out into the Pit going around a selection of permanent raceboys. The route is chosen the morning of the race and designed to last about an hour.

The recent forum chat about handicap was most helpful for the organisers with Escape starting with Enterprises and OKs, a minute behind Laser Radials & GP14s and a minute ahead of Laser 2000 & Wayfarer … Oh and 8 mins behind my Sister.

The first challenge of the event is to get all the boats lined up on the bank in their handicap order with later arrivals trying to squeeze into the appropriate place where there is no space.

First boat away time was 11.15 (Optimists) with high tide at around 12.30. I should point out that the map shows the water line at high tide and that even an hour before high tide the channels can be narrow with large areas of shallow water and shifting sand/mud banks.

The wind was a lively Force 4 from the SW and we sailed to the start with water ballast and a reef in. Whilst waiting for the start the wind appeared to ease so I shook out the reef. We were away at 11.45 looking to hug the bank as close as possible to stay out of the incoming tide but not so close as to run aground … too often. The start was a beam reach but as the channel curved we came closer to the wind. Port round the first buoy (No7) and a tack onto a broad reach.  It was quickly apparent that the wind had not eased and in retrospect we should have left the reef in. Whilst we were at no risk of a capsize in a good wind and a lot of heal, Escape has a strong weather helm. Is this true in general or just me?

Blakeney Pit is a popular place so as well as sailing the course and avoiding the shallows, there is a plethora of moored boats or poorly marked moorings to keep things interesting. The race took about 1hr 15 mins and took us pretty much the full length of the pit and back. Sadly I did not catch my sister though she was the first of her class over the line.  With regards the handicapping we generally held out own against those that started just before and after us as well as closing the gap on those in front but I am sure we will do better next year!!

The event is rounded off with prizegiving, BBQ, bands and dancing in the evening. Should any of the organisers read this my thanks for a great day.

Sailing Course (refer to map)

Start line: between C&C with boats starting from the West Bank

7 S, 5 P, 9 S, 11 S, 1 S, 8 P, 7 P, 5 P, 9 P

Finish: 8 S & Green Motor boat