All roads lead to Broads for popular Three Rivers race test of endurance

The popular Three Rivers race is on this weekend. Picture: Colin Galloway

The popular Three Rivers race is on this weekend. Picture: Colin Galloway - Credit: Archant

Sailors from near and far are gearing up to take part in the 57th annual Navigators & General Three Rivers Race, which takes place on the Norfolk Broads next weekend.

Hosted by Horning Sailing Club situated on the River Bure, the 24-hour endurance race takes competitors on a 50-mile test of seamanship around the Broads. Sailing through the night, the course takes them down the Rivers Bure, Ant and Thurne to either Potter Heigham and Hickling or alternatively to Acle Bridge and Stokesby – with turning points on Hickling Broad, Ludham Bridge, South Walsham and a moveable mark at Stokesby or beyond, set by Race Officer George Whitefoot dependent on weather conditions.

Amongst the 89 competitors this year are 12 Norfolk Punts and four Thames A-Raters with their towering rigs.

In the 12-strong Yeoman fleet are the young team of William Penny, Christopher Willis and Henry Whipp, average age just 17 years, sailing in Pania to raise funds for the Dystonia Society.

They are motivated by their very determined and inspirational Club Member and Volunteer Instructor who suffers from the little-known condition, with 25pc of funds going to Horning Sailing Club's Training Centre, where William and Christopher learnt to sail.

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Having already raised over £800, their target of £1,000 is well in sight.

Martin Hunter, having won the 2016 race, will be defending his title in Merlin Rocket Quiver against intense competition from the numerous previous winners in this year's line-up.

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The fleet will be split into 12 starts, guaranteeing a spectacular event not to be missed, with boats of all shapes and sizes leaving every five minutes for over an hour.

The first start kicks off at 11am from Horning Sailing Club on Saturday, with plenty of opportunities to see boats around the Broads on the course – good vantage points always include the bridges as competitors lower and raise their masts, especially at the medieval Potter Heigham Bridge.

For many, the Three Rivers Race is the highlight of the year's racing calendar and competitors will be hoping for fair winds and warm weather to blow them around the course.

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