Spectator Sue Hines 2010

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Historical Information | ← Spectator Views | Spectator Sue Hines 2010

Spectator: Sue Hines (2010)

From the Log of The Vintage Wooden Boat Association
Posted 19st May 2010
General Confusion at Fleet Dyke

For a number of years I have been interested in the Three Rivers Race and followed its progress from various vantage points. Initially I used to dash all over the Broads, trying to find the best place to view the race. The bridges were obviously exciting and watching the efficiency with which most yachts lower and raise their masts is awe inspiring. I don’t know if it’s more luck than judgment in some cases but they all seemed to get under the lowest bridge eventually, at the last possible moment!

I recall one year in particular, in the pouring rain, standing underneath Acle Bridge, in the dark, watching the yachts dropping their masts and passing under, the crew I’m sure being hampered by having to wear oilskins, but still obviously enjoying themselves and keeping a competitive spirit.

In recent years, in line with a more relaxed pace of life, I have tended to stay in one place at South Walsham Fleet Dyke; this decision has also helped to create a ‘party’ atmosphere amongst fellow boaters and friends. I love to watch and photograph the spectacle of a mass of yachts funnelling through the narrow entrance to South Walsham Broad, most exciting when yachts entering the Broad are met by yachts exiting the Broad, one or other set tacking, depending on the wind direction.

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Fleet Dyke is a good viewing point as the majority of boats come through together on the Saturday afternoon but there are still the ones who have taken the alternative route coming through during the night and into Sunday morning. I have seen numerous yachts ending up in the reeds, the willow trees and skimming so close to the quay heading I have held my breath; in addition there is the odd ‘incident’! Most privately owned motor cruisers tend to stay off the rivers during the day of the race but the hire boats probably don’t realise how difficult it is going to be to negotiate a mass of very competitive yachts, all heading in different directions. Some just plow straight through the middle, regardless of any ‘give way’ rules, others dive for the bank and some stop dead in the middle of the river and shut their eyes!! I have seen panic by hire boats, opening up the throttle to full speed trying to get out of the way but causing horrendous wash for the smaller yachts!

I love the friendly banter which takes place between competing boats and with spectators; crews shout out their email addresses to onlookers asking for photos to be sent and requests that they might be passed beer etc. (against the rules I think as could be counted as outside help!). When dusk falls, we spectators have to be careful to keep our lights low so as not to ruin the night vision of the crews who have taken a different route to the mass and we have often woken in the early hours of the morning to see a yacht drifting gently past on its way to the mark. As each year approaches the race is eagerly anticipated, even just from the social point of view! The adrenalin rush of this race must be huge for the crews as, even only being an onlooker, I can feel it and this year is going to be particularly exciting, being the 50th anniversary of the race. Can’t wait!

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