Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Breydon Regatta adventure!

Last weekend (9/10 August) was Breydon Regatta. 

According to Wikipedia “Breydon Water is a large stretch of sheltered estuary at Great Yarmouth in the English county of Norfolk. It is at the gateway to the The Broads river system on the eastern edge of Halvergate Marshes. It is the UK's largest protected wetland. It is 5 km long and more than 1.5 km wide in places.”

We had not attended this regatta before as it was quite a long journey by water and with tides and the Great Yarmouth bridges to contend with it hadn’t been convenient.  However, the railway runs between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and some trains stop at the Berney Arms station. The Berney Arms pub is set below sea level and has no public road to it, being approached by water or rail (a short tramp over fields from the station).

The train times fitted quite well for the regatta so we decided to make the journey on the Saturday.  A 6.00 am alarm call woke us to a breezy but sunny day and having packed a bag with essentials (waterproofs, cameras, drinks) the night before we drove to Reedham where we were to get on the 7.55 am train for the six minute journey to Berney Arms.

Rail ticket

There were two other passengers getting off at Berney Arms and, on chatting to them as we picked our way across the fields, we discovered that we knew each other from contact through the www.threeriversrace.org.uk website which I helped set up!  We had never met before – small world!  They had been invited to crew on a river cruiser.

Busy moorings

The moorings were full of boats with signs of activity as we arrived.  There were a lot of blurry-eyed people emerging from their boats and we quickly gathered that a good night had taken place in the pub and some had been disturbed by the very heavy rain during the night, as we had!

The pub was already open for breakfast and we were glad of coffee and toast.  Under new ownership, the staff were friendly and helpful and the pub was spotless. We planned to return at lunchtime to sample the menu.

A number of friends came to say hello and discuss the weather conditions which were quite windy but sunny with intermittent cloud.  The skipper was approached to see if he would like to crew on one of the river cruisers but a decision was eventually made not to sail.  He wasn’t too upset as it would have been hard work!

We were introduced to the people who were running the race (Officer of the Day and Timekeeper) and they very kindly offered us a lift on their motor boat down on to Breydon Water.

Race briefing

After the briefing, we set off from the moorings and came in to moor on the platform where the Start Line would be.  All hands were needed to secure the boat in the strong tide and wind.  We could get on to the land from there and walk back to the pub if necessary.

Race start

Safety Boat

The Safety Boat was racing around setting the buoy markers and shortly after we tied up and had coffee, the boats started coming out for the start of the race.  The majority of them had reefs in as the wind was gusting quite strongly.

The friends we had met on the train appeared after a while and told us that the crew on the river cruiser had been “double booked”.  They didn’t mind too much as having been sailing at Horning all the previous week they were quite tired. They sat down with us to spectate and take photos.

The scenery across the marshes was beautiful, with a lovely “Norfolk sky” setting it off.

The marker buoy for the bottom end of Breydon was a long way down and with the tide running out fast and the wind blowing down the estuary, the boats were taking a while to get back up to the top.


Small blue
I walked along the bank trying to get some snaps of the numerous butterflies but they kept getting blown away!

One of the spectators near us was watching the race at the far end of Breydon through binoculars and suddenly said “Raisena’s broken her mast!”  We were all horrified and watched as the safety RIB raced down to help.

Safety RIB
Raisena sailing

Raisena demasted

A sad sight as she made her way back to the moorings with her sail in bits as well (the crew apparently had to deliberately cut the sail to release the bits).  Someone commented that it looked as if she had a junk rig - in both meanings of the word!
We were delighted to be invited to lunch on the Committee Boat, with a glass of wine as well – very hospitable!

The course for the second race was shortened with the buoy being brought further up the estuary, as it was still fairly breezy and the tide was running out fast.

There were one or two other incidents, the next major one being Dragonfly breaking her mast, virtually as she eased off after crossing the finishing line. 

Dragonfly sailing

Crossing finishing line - mast cracking

Mast broken

Another boat had a ripped sail and one just managed to avoid disaster …..

Pandora 3

All in all, an exciting day but also a sad day to see the damage, despite all precautions being taken.

We had to leave before the end of the second race to catch the train back to Reedham at 17.54 so walked back to the pub for a drink before heading off across the fields to the station, which was actually just a raised platform.  There were quite a number of other people waiting for the train, having walked from either Great Yarmouth (5.5 miles) or Reedham (also 5.5 miles) and the train was packed with people, probably either returning from a day out in Great Yarmouth or going into Norwich for the evening.

We were back at our boat in South Walsham by just after 18.30, glowing from a day in the sun and wind.  A lovely, really enjoyable day meeting lots of very nice people and enjoying some exciting sailing.  We would certainly do it again next year.

Details of the Yare Sailing Club, who hosted the race are here www.yaresailingclub.org.uk/details/details.asp

…. and some more photos taken by us are here www.flickr.com/photos/ladylouise2/sets/

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