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Young Gaffers racing at S&A: 8 June 2024

Saturday, 8 June dawned suitably cloudy for an East Coast event, when over 20 boats turned out to compete for the 25th instalment of the Swallows and Amazons race including both Gafflings, a few duck-powered smacks boats and a variety of other small gaffers including a scow, a peterboat and a couple of luggers. After a leisurely briefing to remind everyone of the course (anticlockwise round Horsey Island) and warn our less local participants of the shallow areas (all of it, all the time), nothing was left for it but to get out on the water. 

There was a healthy breeze but none of the force 5 that was forecast which was probably fortunate for most of us, although it did mean the majority took less time to get to the start line than anticipated. The buoy marking the start line had lost its flag in a winter gale making it somewhat hard to spot amongst the trot of mooring buoys. Indeed, it was picked up by a yacht looking for a mooring two minutes before the start – a very understandable mistake but undeniably the best place to be if you wanted a good view. 

The race itself was fun and fast paced, luckily with no appearance of the infamous tidal vortex that materialises occasionally at Stone Point. It was very much all to play for with much shuffling of contestants, especially on the windward leg up Hamford Water. Despite some rather ominous clouds I don’t think we had any rain, but there were a few seals around the Wade who had come out to admire the fleet. After some slight confusion on whether the final mark was actually a mark (or not), cleared up by Will Thomas (thanks Will!), everyone made it back to the W&FYC before the tide turned to potentially wash them back out to sea, which might be the most impressive part of the day. 

Results were announced and prizes awarded after an excellent dinner with a particularly good showing for the Younger Gaffers, both new and well established. Every youngster won something in their class with Will Roberts and Maddy Masters landing first in the Traditional class and first overall racing the Gaffling  ‘Essling’. First in the Smacksboat class was Will Thomas in ‘Minnow’. Anna Masters and Chris Watt took first in the Spirit of Tradition classic ‘Nona’. 

It is also worth making honourable mention of Elliott and Teddy Phillips who were recognised for being the youngest helm and youngest crew on ‘Edith G’, Tim Jenner and Chris Nash who travelled the furthest to attend the event and Georgina Tall for her excellent, tireless work for the Younger Gaffers Initiative for which she was awarded the Totem. All in all it was an excellent race and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to competing again next year!

Words: Maddy Phillips