River Cruiser: Martlet (2010)
Posted by Sue Hines, 10th August, 2010
Written by Clare Weller for Anglia Afloat magazine and permission given for use on this website.
I’ve never been a beer or lager drinker but that‘s not the reason I’m never going to drink the can of Carlsberg that currently has pride of place on my desk. Inappropriate as it may be to have alcohol in the office, it’s staying. That’s because it’s the first prize I’ve ever won for sailing – at this year’s Acle Regatta.
I was crewing for my colleague Hilary Franzen who is never more at home than when at the helm of her Broads River Cruiser Martlet. At Acle, she was putting me through my paces before letting me be part of her Broads Authority crew in the 50th Navigators and General Three Rivers Race.
And if the Acle win felt like an achievement it was nothing to the feeling of crossing the finishing line after 17 hours and 36 minutes sailing the Bure, Ant and Thurne. What an experience – an endurance test undoubtedly, an almighty sailing lesson for a relative novice like me and an unbeatable way to see the Broads.
I loved almost every minute...the frantic jostling for position at the start, the juxtaposition of camaraderie and competitiveness from other crew, the drama of mast lowering and raising at the bridges and the cheers of support from well-wishers just when we needed a boost.
The Broads in the dead of night was enchanting – still, but rarely completely quiet – with birds twittering in the reeds even in the wee, small hours. Sunset and sunrise experienced without another boat in sight were completely magical, although at times we were questioning why we were the only boat around! Had everyone chosen a different route? Were we ahead or behind? Were the wind and tides any better where everyone else was?
I say I loved almost every minute because there were a couple of moments when my spirits faltered... paddling like blazes under Acle bridge but going backwards against a strong tide was not a high point for the four of us. I felt like my arm muscles were going to rip and my right shoulder was coming out of its socket.
And when the rain came pouring down at three thirty in the morning, with no wind and still a good way from the finish, tiredness really set in. But then we caught up with the finishing crowd and leapt back into life for the final push.
I could hardly believe we had done it as we crossed the finish line at 6.01am, or even as I tucked into one of the most welcome cooked breakfasts I have ever tasted back in the clubhouse. I was still swaying to the motion of the water as I sat at my computer 24 hours later, Carlsberg can to the fore, and the reality of what we had achieved sank in. We came 45th out of the 174 starters, something I think we can be pretty proud of. It was the first time two of us had done the race and the first time we had all sailed together, which also meant we hadn’t practiced our bridge craft! I’m immensely grateful to the rest of the crew for having me on board.
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The race marked a hat trick of firsts in quick succession for me - all only achievable thanks to the dedication of the rest the team, I hasten to add. We had mailed out the first ever Broads Explorer newsletter for local residents the previous week, all about what the Authority does and how people can get out and make the most of living near the Broads. It had been a long-held ambition of our members to produce such a newsletter and I’m delighted to say it’s been well received with loads of people signing up for future electronic versions.
We also launched a new website for the tourism industry promoting all that’s going on in the Broads – where to go, what to see and lots about its rich history and wildlife.
I will have been at the Broads Authority for a year this month and what a year it’s been – a complete change from my old job as a TV news presenter and a steep learning curve, which I’m still scaling. But in the space of two weeks three projects which looked daunting back in January have come together, culminating in completing THAT race. Looking back the past 12 months have brought me so many great opportunities and I’m really looking forward to taking on some more.
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