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OGA60: Suffolk Yacht Harbour provides ‘safe haven’ for small boat fleet

The OGA60 ‘small boat’ fleet was provided with excellent facilities by Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington. Trailed boats began to arrive on Wednesday, 2 August to register and launch. OGA organisers Pete Ellliston and Joe Farrow worked in the rain most of the afternoon to get the larger boats into the water. The decision was made to ‘dry sail’ the Mirror, Herons, and Gafflings, but the Smack boats and Scow were launched, although the rain meant they were not necessarily rigged!

At the 0900 briefing on Thursday the boats were split into two fleets at roughly the 4m length mark to make it easier to mange, but with the foercast winds not even the larger boats wanted to head out to Harwich Harbour! Both fleets set reefs before setting off upriver. The faster ones reached the Orwell Bridge and picnicked there, while most of the smaller ones ended up at Pin Mill pontoon for lunch or a drink in the pub. Despite the strong wind and occasional rain showers everyone enjoyed the sail, with visitors to the East Coast being highly impressed by the Orwell’s beauty. We returned to Suffolk Yacht Haven in good time for the taxis to pick us up for the drive to Ipswich for the Civic Reception, attended by over 300 people with an address from the Mayor of Ipswich.

Friday’s wind forecast was much less intimidating, and this time a few of the larger boats did head towards the harbour for a look before heading up river to lunch at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club. The Club had cleared the two hammerhead pontoons for us, as well as the shallower pontoon walkway in front of the Clubhouse, and the whole fleet moored up in good time for the meal. By 14:00 all the boats were away, heading up to the bridge to meet the large boat fleet for the Parade of Sail. Do I need to say anything about the RAIN? Maybe I should just mention we spent a lot of time bailing on the way downriver!

All official small boat events were cancelled on Saturday due to the weather, but three brave boats did set off towards Pin Mill, accompanied by a safety boat. Apparently the sail there was ‘alright’ but they were towed back home to Suffolk Yacht Harbour. Given the weather forecast it was announced on Saturday evening that the Gaffling Championship was cancelled and that there would be no small boat race on Sunday. This message did not reach everyone, and several skippers turned up for the scheduled 0900 briefing saying they wanted to race. The Race Officer agreed to prepare a course totally within the river, created over breakfast, with a briefing going ahead at 1000. Five boats expressed an interest for the race with a start time of 14:30. Once out in the river two boats immediately decided against racing, while a third withdrew just before the start, leaving only two boats to cross the line. Their progress was watched with care from the Race Office and on the water by a safety boat. Both participants completed the course within the time limit. Congratulations to Steve Mitchel in his Smack Boat ‘Joy’, and Charles Croydon and his scratch crew of Chris Stanger and Julian Cable in the Clovelyy Picarooner ‘Agnes Jane’ for racing in such challenging conditions!

Report compiled by Alison Cable, OGA60 Co-ordinator