Billed as a friendly contest between local Tollesbury winklebrigs and the visiting OGA, no fewer than eight East Coast smack’s boats from the OGA formed the core of the fleet to venture into the Leavings at Tollesbury on Easter Saturday to race round Great Cob Island.
For those unwilling or unable to join the racing, there was an excellent view for spectators from the harbour wall, with a delightful, bracing walk through the Tollesbury Wick Marshes, part of the Essex Wildlife Trust Reserve.
13 boats set out to race in rather breezy conditions. The initial challenge was to get all the racers off the Hard and out of Woodrolfe Creek against a strong headwind. Various approaches were attempted, using sail and oar and sculling sweep, but in the end motorised towing proved the best way to get everyone out for the 2.30 pm start.
Four retired but nine completed the course (including seven smack’s boats) in just under two hours. Once safely ashore celebrations were held first in the Tollesbury Sailing Club and later at a prizegiving and supper hosted by the King’s Head Pub.
1. 'Neva’ sailed by Ellie (helm) and Rory Howlett
2. ‘Knot’ sailed by Mike (helm) and Sue Feather
3. ‘Papa Stour’ sailed by Pete ‘the Knife’ Elliston (helm) and Sarah Adie
1. Tollesbury Winklebrig ‘Fidget’ sailed by Steve Meakin (helm), Vanessa Price and Barry Edwards
It was at the Kings Head Pub that the Tollesbury Yacht Skippers Club was formed when the village began to gain a reputation as a yachting centre during the early part of the 20th century. Perhaps you knew about Tollesbury's long association with fishing in sailing boats, but did you know that those same skippers formed the crack crews in the famous big racing yachts of their day?
As a preface to the prize-giving, we were reminded of this by East Coast Area President, Robert Hill and you can read more about the historic connections of Tollesbury's Edwardian yachtsmen on ‘Sailing by’.
Photo credit: Beverley Daley-Yates