Spectator Sue Hines 2011
Spectator: Sue Hines (2011)
Posted 6th June 2011
2011 – 51st Race
Well, what a race this year, with quite a large number of DNF’s I believe.
I know of at least two which happened in Fleet Dyke and also a number of incidents which could have led to a non finish for the competitors if not for their resourcefulness.
As there was no guard ship or mark in Fleet Dyke at around 10 am I decided to go for a walk down to the main river to see if there was any activity. The moorings at St Benet’s were full with colourful boats bedecked in bunting and flags. By the time I got back to my vantage point, the guard ship had arrived, moored centrally on the public staithe and the mark had been set in the river at the far end of the moorings, at one of the narrowest points of the dyke! There were no boats moored on the staithe at that end at that point but within half an hour, a number of big motor cruisers moored which made the river narrower and it appeared that manoeuvrability space was going to be limited.
The first boat came past my camera at approximately 12.25, sailing very comfortably until they got to the mark where a large hire cruiser was ‘poncing’ about by the mark, not trying to get out of the way and this seemed to totally upset RK2 who either tried to tack to get round the motor boat or it actually looked to me as if they broached and went straight into the quay, very fast and very hard! The hire boat proceeded up the dyke without a second look, with two children on the fly bridge who appeared to be steering!
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After this, a number of Norfolk Punts/A Raters and Wayfarers etc negotiated the mark successfully but warily until 13.05 when another rescue dinghy arrived and almost immediately moved the mark back up the dyke to the near end of the staithe, in last year’s position. This did not please a few boats who had rounded the longer mark only to see their competitors gaining time by having the nearer mark! I would imagine there might be a few protests! This was a slightly more sensible option that the other ridiculous placing of the mark but even so, there was not much space for some of the bigger river cruisers to turn and a lot of confusion and incidents occurred.
Zingara had a rig failure after rounding the mark and spent some time repairing the jib before setting off again – all credit to the crew as it would have been the easier option to retire.
The boats were coming thick and fast by this time with a few close calls but no incidents until Beth, sailing well, rounded the mark and appeared to be ‘cut up’ by YBOD 32 who sailed across directly in front of them only to be caught up by Beth’s bowsprit with a man overboard from the Y&B. Quick thinking by the young lady in the forepeak saved any further damage to boats or people and after some disentangling, Beth went on her way whilst the dinghy collected all the spilt tokens. The Y&B however, retired to the bank to recover and sail away after the rush – to continue or retire?
There was some close sailing between boats heading out of Fleet Dyke. A number of friends sailed past, concentrating hard and I held my breath as they came up to the mark but all negotiated it safely and went on their way. There were a few very colourful crews to be seen and a few heart stopping moments, along the way!
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I think the unfortunates in Electric Excaliber dropped their token and went in search of it, only to pick up the mark rope in their rudder and drag it into the bushes; eventually it was disentangled and replaced in position by the rescue dinghy.
Around 5pm the guard ship decided to move down the moorings to be nearer the mark, which seemed a much more sensible option as competitors were not near enough to them to shout out their numbers and were actually shouting them to us, moored nearer the mark!
Two Norfolk Punts came round the point, sailing neck and neck, a beautiful sight with their sails gleaming in the sun! There was a little vying for position at the mark but without mishap and they left as competitively as they had arrived.
An exciting moment when last year’s winner in Norfolk Punt 53 came round the bend towards the mark – to see what happened next you need to go to this Flickr site
There were no further dramatic incidents and I began to enjoy the sight of the boats, particularly the river cruisers under full sail, creaming down the dyke.
The Results are not available on line as this is published, probably due to the number of retirements and possible protests at the moving of the Fleet Dyke mark!
A number of people have expressed amazement at the positioning of the mark in the dyke and have asked why it has been changed from the original site of the centre of South Walsham Broad, some sailors saying that they felt much more confident with the space available on the Broad to manoeuvre round the mark. Hopefully it will be moved back on to the Broad for next year.
There will be many more photos posted on my Three Rivers Race Flickr site over the next few days, a link to which will be on this website in due course.
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