Record entry for 21st Three Rivers Race
by our Yachting Correspondent (1981)
Reproduced courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
A record entry, the summer’s first sunshine and a light breeze marked the 21st Three Rivers Race, sailed from Horning over the weekend.
First boat home was a Slipstream sailed by Patrick Richardson, followed by two Norfolk Punts and an International 14.
The winner completed the 46-mile course in 15 ½ hours, slightly faster than last year.
The 21st race was a personal triumph for David Hastings, who conceived the idea when he was sailing secretary at Horning Sailing Club.
David said that the plan first came to him when he was looking for a challenging race which was something different from “just sailing round the buoys”.
“I had experience of night sailing when I was stationed in Germany at Steinhudermeer and that gave me the idea of night sailing”.
During the first race, which was sailed in a time of around nine hours, which has never been beaten, David sailed an Enterprise and came in first.
“We came across Hickling Broad in a howling gale planing all the way,” he said, and contrasted that with the longest race when the first boat home took 19 hours to finish the course.
The race has produced many amusing incidents, but that which stands out in David’s mind concerned an RAF dinghy drifting through the night from Hickling with both helmsmen and crew fast asleep. They only woke up when the mast hit Potter Heigham bridge.
During the history of the race, good humour has always prevailed and there has never been a protest for the race committee to sort out.
Large crowds lined the banks for the start on Saturday when an excellent commentary on what was happening was provided by Fred Turner.
After a short delay when the breeze disappeared, the 113 entries were sent away in eight starts at five minute intervals. Almost every class of boat could be seen from small dinghies, which would undoubtedly be most uncomfortable during the misty, drifting early hours, to top-sailed cruisers, well prepared against wet and cold.
The interesting miscellany of boats included a Thames yawl, converted from a police launch, and a lugsailed half-decker sailed by Peter George, completing his 16th Three Rivers Race.
During the night, most boats ended up on Hickling Broad and there was something of a traffic jam in the early hours as the boats drifted down through Acle to Stokesby where a considerate committee had placed the Bure buoy rather than sending the crews drifting down to Stracey Arms.
Again at Stokesby a traffic jam built up as crews waited for the tide (a remarkably strong one) to change and send them drifting back to Horning.
Crews who had seemed quite perky a few hours earlier with staccato shouts of “starboard” and “water” crawled out of dinghies early yesterday morning to a welcome cooked breakfast at Horning Sailing Club, which had installed an excellent radio network to five guardships scattered along the course, and for the first time, a computer to work out the results.
David Hastings summed up how they would feel. “Nine out of ten will crawl out of their boats and say ‘Never again.’ Next year at least eight out of ten will be here.”
Overall winner: Spindrift (P Richardson); Bosuns Call Trophy A: Spindrift; Bosuns Call Trophy B: Superjack (S. Jeckells); Puffin Trophy: Rebellious Lady (R. Means); Melody Trophy: Pippa (G. Angell); Peter Cumming Trophy: Spindrift; Horning Sailing Club Trophy (for first club member home on handicap): Superjack.
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