Spectator Matthew Hurst 2010
Spectator: Matthew Hurst (2010)
Posted 18st June 2010
Greetings from a tourist to Norfolk
Many thanks for an excellent colourful event on Saturday 5 June. May I please give a different perspective to the event, from the eyes of the uninformed.
On Saturday I was on the penultimate day of my annual holiday on a hire craft that I was returning to Stalham. We hadn't been to the Broads before and the last time I had been on a boat was 21 years earlier. In other words, after 1 week I was ok with the boat controls but not an expert by any standard. As I rounded a corner of the river, without warning, I came across the race.
A friendly marshall informed us what was happening, but as we were moving and yachts were zipping all over the place, she could not give us any idea of the size of the event. If I had known, I would have moored up immediately. We had passed this point of the river 3 days earlier heading for the southern broads and saw no advisory signs of a major event. If there had been a warning I would have changed my travel plans. The marshall's advice was to hug the right bank, advice that totally contradicted all the warnings in our boat manual which warned us to avoid the banks at all costs!
We tried desperately for the next hour to follow this advice, getting more nervous every moment. As we hugged the bank, some yacht owners gesticulated that they wanted to pass between us into a seemingly non existent gap on the right side, we also had to cope with many yachts giving contradictory instructions, simultaneously!
Our moment of pure panic arrived at Acle bridge. We saw the yachts putting their masts up again ON THE RIGHT HAND BANK immediately below the bridge, so moved into the middle to avoid them, then we were verbally harassed and sworn at by many members of the public on the left hand bank, telling us in no uncertain terms that we should be on the right. If we had been we would have caused considerable damage. At this point a yacht missed us literally by less than 1"- causing more swearing from the public. It would be wrong to say this moment ruined our holiday but it certainly took the shine off an otherwise good week. We then progressed very nervously and with great trepidation 'til we moored at the first available mooring near Thurne. The reason I write these details is to correct a point on these web pages which state " hire boats do not appreciate how difficult it is to avoid numerous craft."
Prior notice please
In short, a wonderful event, that I would have enjoyed if I had been on the bank. As it was, it was an absolute nightmare that I was still shaking over several hours later. I did not proceed on my journey till after lunch on the Sunday when I noticed the yachts had gone. This view was shared by many other hire boat owners I spoke to. I am sure in the Broads, this event is well known and publicised but to us holiday makers it came out of the blue and was a very unsettling experience.
I am sure you need no advice from a holiday maker, but, IN future, a few warning signs on the rivers concerned up to a week before would be useful, also a big poster explaining what was happening and what to expect, i.e. 100s of little boats zipping all over the place. If I had been informed I wouldn't have been the problem I obviously was. In fairness, the harassment we encountered came from the spectators, who totally failed to appreciate that we were not there simply to spoil their enjoyment, we were there through lack of knowledge.
Most of the yacht crews who came very close to collision with us were polite and understanding and were very good ambassadors for the event... as was an elderly gentleman, a previous competitor who helped us moor at the Staithe an hour later.
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