Yare race proved a challenge

I expected the 32nd Yare Navigation Race to be fraught with interest, owing to high water at Coldham being at the unusually late time of 9am. I did not expect the wind, or rather lack of it, to add to the excitement.

I expected the 32nd Yare Navigation Race to be fraught with interest, owing to high water at Coldham being at the unusually late time of 9am. I did not expect the wind, or rather lack of it, to add to the excitement.

As it was, the organisers' decision to extend the finishing time by two hours, to 8pm, was amply justified as only four of the 54 starters managed to complete the shortened race by 6pm and only two failed to make the later deadline.

It was a race for the larger boats this year, with wind conspicuous by its absence until after 1pm, when the lightest of southerlies crept in at Reedham, where an anxious Geoff Pinder, the race officer, had laid a mark just upstream of the swing bridge in a last ditch attempt to get a result. Even so, the first boat, RM Swann's Shadow, only succeeded in rounding at 1.51, having been the first starter with Chris Sales' Kingfisher, which followed him almost a quarter of an hour later. It was only the strong ebb tide and current which saved the event, and competitors struggled back upstream, as the wind, which had built up to a massive Force Two by 2.30pm, entered into a terminal decline half an hour or so later and finally passed peacefully away around teatime. Sadly, Swann had the melancholy distinction of finishing 52nd and last on handicap. Moving up the fleet, James Gill and his crew got it right, starting at 11.45am and crossing the line first five hours and 23 minutes later, to win the main trophy from Robin Richardson, who had started half an hour later, by 16 minutes.

Colin Chettleburgh, sailing big Breeze, and Martin Broom's Raisena, both considerably faster boats, left half an hour later and, like the last starter John Royce, failed to narrow the gap sufficiently to save their handicap.

Gill's reward was the Yare Navigation Trophy, and also the Moonraker Trophy for the fastest passage, both by significant margins.

There was a marvellous spectacle at Reedham as the majority of the fleet, carried at almost uniform speed by the tide, rounded in close proximity, and there was much bunching as they made their way upstream.

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Of the smaller craft, Phillip Dring did best, coming in sixth overall to win the Grant Thornton Trophy for 25ft to 28ft craft, while Rodney Sales was only five minutes and two places adrift for the Wilberforce Smith Trophy for the smallest boats, ahead of Henry Fillery (baby Breeze) and David Trower.