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OGA50: East Coast Jubilee Race and Cruise, 2013

East Coast boats participating in the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge are nearing completion in mid-July and gathering at Ipswich for the East Coast Jubilee Race and Cruise. On 17 July Witch’ completes the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge, reaching her home port at Walton-on-the-Naze. Back on the East Coast, skippers are wary of the shifting sands and shallow waters as they explore the coastal waters, rivers and creeks by day and night. We catch up with the rest of the fleet, well on course to join East Coast OGA boats for the East Coast OGA Jubilee Cruise, starting in Ipswich on the River Orwell.

The first boat to reach Ipswich is ‘Syene’ and we hear that ‘Bonita’ sails in light winds from Grimsby and, at 1am reports she ‘had almost too much excitement during a difficult entrance to Wells Harbour in the dark’. ‘Cine Mara’ explores the River Alde at Orford while ‘Capraia’ and ‘Windbreker’ are in Southwold. ‘Bonify’ has arrived in Lowestoft. She reports it’s been 100.8 nautical miles from Grimsby in 19 hours and 50 litres of diesel – cheaper than the train? We’re pleased to hear there’s no more diesel leaks and they’re stocking up on kippers and haddock for the celebration return to the East Coast at Wrabness, River Stour, to complete their OGA50 Round Britain Challenge. ‘Toucando’ has made up the lost time undergoing repairs in Eyemouth, motor-sailing to Lowestoft, passing the North Norfolk coast between sunset and sunrise approaching Great Yarmouth with caution, hearing the radio reports of a fellow yachtsman running aground. ‘Annabel J’ is sailing south and reaches the English coast to anchor at Holy Island, Lindisfarne. ‘Snoopy’ is more than half-way round her counter-clockwise passage to the Solent party and reports she’s: ‘Awaiting the tide at Peel Isle of Man. Exact 777 miles done since I left Holland June 25th, 480 miles left to go to Cowes Isle of Wight! And than back home again. All in a cramped 18 footer.’

The OGA50 Round Britain Challenge fleet has been joined by around 50 local boats from the East Coast in a week of cruising, racing and parties from Ipswich to Wivenhoe. A further 30 boats register for the Anniversary East Coast Race, bringing the fleet to over 100 for the weekend’s activities. All but one of the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge boats join the Anniversary Cruise and we hear news from ‘Snoopy’ on her counter-clockwise circumnavigation. The East Coast Jubilee Cruise, started with a civic reception with the Deputy Mayor in the Custom House. Ipswich Haven Marina made the large fleet most welcome, allowing everyone to raft up in front of the Last Anchor where there was a buffet and music in the evening. This truly international event includes Dutch, Belgian and English boats from all areas of the UK. The fleet dressed overall for the occasion and basked in bright sunshine for the whole weekend. On Sunday visitors were slowly introduced to the joys of a fun regatta including all the skills of sculling, rowing, sailing a rubber flubber and the culmination of ‘Rubber flubber football’. We understand this event will be repeated in Cowes during the August celebrations.

Monday found the fleet cruising or racing to Wrabness on the River Stour, for beers on the beach, with another race on Tuesday across Pennyhole Bay to Walton Backwaters and a great welcome from the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club in the evening. Wednesday dawned another fine morning for the Seaways Bells Passage Race down the Wallet to West Mersea, culminating in the annual pilgrimage to Packing Shed Island for a magnificant seafood lunch. On Thursday, skippers invited the young and lady members on board, to ensure their boat could compete in either the Junior Helm or Lady Skipper Race up the Blackwater to Osea Pier. This event attracted a large entry, providing a great opportunity for those who don’t always have the opportunity to helm in a race. In the evening the fleet was made most welcome at the Maldon Little Ship Club for the Anniversary Buffet. Departing Osea Pier early on Friday morning, the winds were so light that many were forced to retire, but everyone arrived in Brightlingsea, rafting up with the assistance of the harbourmasters, to be joined by even more boats for the East Coast Race on Saturday. ‘Toucando’ remains in Ipswich, ‘Snoopy’ reaches the Scilly Isles after a trip of 125 miles from Milford Haven in 29 hours struggling against wind and tide. After joining the East Coast Cruise for a couple of days, ‘Annabel J’ decided to head for Honfleur, taking a 40 hour passage to sail the 190 miles from Harwich to reach the French coast.