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‘Young gaffers’ racing and cruising, 2017

Watch this excellent video footage by Kevin Jay from the East Coast OGA August Cruise, 2017. ‘Rely’, based at Titchmarsh is seen from the air followed by ‘Sotra’, a Dutch member of the OGA who crossed the North Sea to join the Cruise.

The East Coast Race precedes the OGA Cruise where several ‘young gaffers’ (that’s people, not boats) take part. Read this report from a Race Officer’s perspective.

Saturday 15 July, 2017 saw the 54th running of the East Coast Old Gaffers Race, at Brightlingsea, with an excellent small boat event at the same venue on Sunday. There were 31 boats entered of whom 28 started the race on a day which at the 8am Race Briefing looked as if it might add to the ulcers the Race Officer acquired during last year’s event. Fortunately, the wind gods were kinder this year and as the first start time of 10am approached, a gentle but steady breeze arrived and continued to increase throughout the race with some gusts of 5-6 Beaufort (apparently, at the far reaches of the course).

Different to many previous years the start ordering had the main body of the gaff rigged fleet off first followed by the Bermudans with the smacks and other work boats in the last start at 10.20. The gaff and working boat starts were quite interesting to say the least, with a number of boats on course side at the gun, but all successfully negotiated the remainder of their class, returning through the line to start again (accompanied by some discussion between the crews!) Best start of the day to Nigel Waller in ‘Fanny of Cowes’ who thought four seconds after the gun was not close enough! Well, it was close enough to ensure that he won Lower Handicap Workboats Class.

The fleet surged off to Colne Bar, with some requiring tacks to stay the correct side of marks in the Colne channel and very soon they were lost to sight from the Bateman’s Tower Race Office, although progress was reported by ‘Tempus’ and ‘Tornado Rib’ out on the course. With a chance to catch our breath and have a well earned sip of tea in the race office (or even a nap for one poor overworked volunteer) it seemed an age before we were advised that the leaders had rounded the furthest mark in the Wallet and were on the way back. A fierce tussle ensued between the leading smacks with ‘Ethel Alice’ choosing an inshore course to catch up and overtake her rivals, storming on to the finish to win The Higher Handicap Workboats Class. 

But not before ‘Dirty Girty’, crewed by a very able group of youngsters (led by Ed Roberts) had just pipped the ‘Crow’ (crewed by the young at heart Bob Berk and crew) to the line. Sadly for the youngsters the handicapper had obviously taken age into account, so their winning margin was not enough to overhaul ‘Crow’ who herself lost out to the Andrew Wolstenholme designed Kite called ‘Kate’ (skippered by Euan Seel) which won Class 4 and the Overall Winners Pennant for fastest boat on corrected time. Mark Butler’s ‘Rainbow’ had another excellent race with an ‘All Butler’ crew winning Class 2 (Gaffers) and the Commodore’s Pennant for the fastest OGA member and ‘Gromit’ skippered by Trevor Sanderson took the honours in Class 3 (Spirit of Tradition). An excellent evening ensued at Colne Yacht Club with a packed room for the Prize Giving and a lovely meal provided by Colne YC and their caterers.