East Coast


A windy Tollesbury rally

Pudding Faces racing at the Tollesbury Rally 2019
©Julian Cable

A dozen gaffers joined the Tollesbury Sailing Club’s Friday Food event on 3rd May, to enjoy a meal of chicken and leek stew followed by Banoffee pie in convivial company. The talk was mostly about the weather, notably the horrible forecast for the next day’s racing. With the wind expected to gust to 26 knots from a base of 18, there was doubt about the wisdom of racing.

Gaffers are a hardly lot, and despite the weather another 3 boats appeared on Saturday morning, making 10 OGA boats in the park, including Seamew, a Burnham Scow owned by Mark Berry, appearing at her first OGA event, and a brand new Smack boat, Pearl, freshly finished for this event by Pete Thomas. Other faces were more familiar, with Fyre and Dirty Gerty hoping for another face off with the Tollesbury GP14 fleet.

However at the start of the briefing time, when the question was asked “Who wants to race?” no one puts their hands up. The gusty wind was just too strong for safe racing. None the less Tiki, Minnow, and Knot (now owned by Melvyn Fox) made their way down to the hard, hoping to go out for a sail. Pudding Faces was already afloat in the marina, having been towed down from Titchmarsh Marina by Rosie.

Standing on the hard, trying to get the sails up before launching showed just how unmanagable the wind was. Sandy Miller had brought his kayak, hoping to take pictures of the racing from closer up. He launched, and was capsized by a wind gust within 10’ of the hard. Not just racing, but all sailing was abandoned. But not rowing. Unaware of what had happened Ian Clark brought Pudding Faces round from the marina, found no one on the hard, and explored the Saltings under oar instead.

With racing abandoned ELG, Dirty Gerty, Seamew, and Fyre headed home. The remaining crews spent the afternoon exploring Tollesbury, while dodging hail stones and rain showers that were driven strongly by the wind.

Some of the crews returned to enjoy the evening meal of chilli and rice at the Kings Head. There was no prize giving as no racing had taken place, but the weather forecast for Sunday was much better, so maybe we could go out then?

After a Sunday breakfast of bacon, egg, and fried potato, and an in depth discussion with the Tollesbury race officials 4 smacks boats, a Padstow Lugger, and 3 GP14s assembled on the start line for the OGA v Tollesbury race. The course set took best advantage of the force 4 northerly wind, and a very enjoyable race ensued. The GP14 fleet took all line honours, with Minnow, the first smack boat home 2 ½ minutes behind, closely followed by Pearl then Willow, with Pudding faces and Tiki bringing up the rear.

George Rogers from Tollesbury sailing club was awarded the David Cade shield for first GP14, while Will Thomas received the Leaving’s Pot (AKA the King’s Head Trophy) for first Smack’s Boat. Ian Clarke was awarded a pair or rowlocks for his heroic efforts on Saturday.

This was an enjoyable event despite the weather, and for the first time in its history went over the expected 2 days! Many thanks to the Tollesbury Sailing Club and the King’s Head for their hospitality, and here’s hoping that the weather next year will be better.

6 May 2019