Winter wipe-out brings back memories of ’63

For the first time since I took this job on 13 years ago there is no sailing to report from last Sunday.

When this last happened is beyond my memory, possibly in the late 1980s, certainly in the 1963 freeze, although in that year Frostbites were able to sail on some Sundays while Snowflakes saw the Bure completely frozen.

In 1963 there was a strip of the Yare relatively ice-free, thanks to the output from the Whitlingham Sewage Farm on the flood tide, and effluent from the power station on the Deal Ground on the ebb. The only impediment to sailing was the fact that, if the mainsheet dipped into the river, it immediately froze solid, inhibiting easing of the mainsail with a possible capsize following.

Meanwhile, 600-ton coasters were iced in at Norwich and Cantley. Four veterans of the 1963 season were present – Martin Broom, Alan Mitchell, Les Gee, and yours truly. They recalled the state of the water all those years ago, when one visiting Commodore used the term 'the affluent boating in the effluent'. All four agreed that the present state of the water is infinitely better.

Frostbites held their usual Rum Punch Sunday meeting, in a crowded clubhouse with the raffle raising a substantial sum for club funds. Ironically, the wind was probably as favourable for racing as we have had this season, but floating ice, and the danger of damaging the boats ruled out any chance of racing.


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However, Bernie Woodcock did go afloat and, carefully evading the ice, collected Father Christmas for his annual visit to the youngsters. The Christmas trophies will now be decided next Sunday, ice permitting, over one race.

Snowflakes found the Bure relatively clear, but their Yeomans were frozen into their pens and further blocked by the frozen dykes, while Rollesby, viewing the waterfowl walking over the broad, are reported to be considering opening a skating section!

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• Next Sunday is the General Allcomers' race for the Jonathon House Memorial Salver at Oulton Broad, but unless there is a sudden thaw, it will not be possible to sail it.

• Buckenham Sailing Club's racing season ended on Sunday with the traditional Christmas Chinese handicap.

The race was sailed in near Arctic conditions and the aptly named Jim Frost won the race in his Phantom, Skylark. Second was Phil Gooch in Supernova and third was Custard sailed by Arthur and Mark Wells.

At the following Punch party in the clubhouse, prizes were presented for the winter series. Phil Gooch won the prestigious Tangier Trophy in his Supernova, winning by just one place from Arthur Wells in Custard. Third in the series was Steve Riley in Saphira. Riley also took the trophy for the Allcomers' race in the Winter Series.

Chinese Handicap: 1 Skylark (Jim Frost), 2 Supernova (Phil Gooch), 3 Custard (Arthur and Mark Wells). Tangier Trophy: 1 Supernova, 2 Custard, 3 Saphira (Steve Riley and Kelvin Frosdick). General Allcomers (Winter Series): 1 Saphira.

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