Sallie-Anne steps into some big shoes - her father's

As the starting gun let out a loud bang and the first boats sailed out along the Norfolk Broads under glorious sunshine, Colin Facey had reason to feel a little smug.

As the starting gun let out a loud bang and the first boats sailed out along the Norfolk Broads under glorious sunshine, Colin Facey had reason to feel a little smug.

After 21 years at the helm, the 50th Three Rivers Race was the biggest yet with a record number of boats tackling the 50-mile, 24-hour, endurance test.

And as he handed the reigns over to his daughter - who will become the event's youngest and first-ever female race controller - Mr Facey was confident Europe's longest inland sailing competition was in safe hands.

The father-of-two stepped down as the race organiser following this weekend's landmark event which saw 30 new competitors bring the number of boats competing to a new record - 174. But the 62-year-old, who took over as race controller in 1990, said he would not be sad to give it up: 'I like to think I have contributed, with my committee, to make the race what it is today,' he said.


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Next year, his daughter Sallie-Anne Sadler - who competed for the sixth time this weekend - will step into her father's shoes. She said it was a big undertaking.

'It's massive,' she said. 'Specially taking over after this year because it's the 50th. Everyone's coming up to me saying 'you're going to have to go some to beat this'. But Mum and Dad will be there in the background and there will be lots of others. They won't go 'there it is' and run away on holiday - although Dad has joked about it a couple of times.'

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In fact, Mr Facey will see first hand how well his daughter organises the Three Rivers. 'They tell me next year I'm doing the race,' he said.

The former racing-car driver has every confidence in his daughter's abilities - but admitted he could not help worrying a little. He said: 'The only thing is, there is an awful lot of stress that comes with running it. She will cope with that - but will I? She's my daughter, I want to protect her.'

As Mrs Sadler, who lives in Horning with husband Vinny and daughters Leanne, 14, and Anna, 13, takes over from her dad the temptation to put her own stamp on it must be very strong. 'Bring on the pink,' she said. 'Pink shirts - I think it would be nice.' But in reality, the 36-year-old said there was no need to change a thing, saying: 'Everything runs so well. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.'

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