On Friday 19th November, 80 Blackwater Sailing Club members and their guests packed into the beautifully restored 17th century thatched Essex Barn function suite at Channels, Chelmsford for our black-tie Laying up Supper. Everyone looked very smart in their finery and there was a great atmosphere with the venue looking very festive and decorated for Christmas.
After grace from organiser, Joe Bird, everyone settled down to enjoy a delicious three course meal with friendly and efficient service from the house. During coffee, the raffle was drawn. Thanks to the generosity of members, we had some amazing prizes which were divided into goodie bags for the winners. This was followed by the 200 Club draw.
Without further ado, DJ Mitch Fisk entertained us with his mix of music and the dance floor was quickly full of people showing off their moves. This year, the Friday Sailors energised themselves with ‘fortified’ coffee and led the dancing until the carriages arrived at midnight to carry them away!
Thanks to the successful raffle, there was a small profit from the event that is being donated to ‘children in need’.
All in all, a great time was had by all and evidence that there is still demand for a black-tie dinner in addition to our more informal trophy supper held at the Club. Many thanks to Steve and the team at Channels and to Joe Bird and Tracy Haigh for organising a most enjoyable event.
Photos © Nigel Butler
On Sunday 7 November over fifty helpers turned out for our first winter work party which enabled us to finish the three main tasks of the day. Our main task was to clear out the mast shed of the old unused masts which have not seen the light of day for many years. After clearing the masts and old wood etc., we were able to re arrange the mast shed so it not only looks tidier but has some spare racks for cruiser owners who wish to store their masts over winter.
Our next major job was to resurface the new dinghy storage area. This is where we reclaimed some land on the edge of the drainage pond which was left to settle after the club house rebuilding finished. The land is now stable and has been levelled and re finished.
At the Ballast Hole side of the club grounds the entire length of the banking has been cleared of brambles and has been trimmed. This has tidied up this area and allowed members to get to their dinghies.
There was a very high tide and the Fireballs out for Winter racing only just managed to get back before the flood gates were closed.
Well done to everyone who helped, we got an awful lot of jobs done.
Photos © Belinda Sturge
A sparkling October afternoon attracted 50 boats to take part in the end of season finale trophy race, the Dyer Cup. The race team, led by Sheena Berney, had George Whitchurch providing a committee boat start just downriver from Clarks and they were undeterred by a spectacular formation of four USAF F15 fighter jets that flew low over the start area a few minutes before the start. The fleet set off in good time for a gentle reach down to the start line, with a menagerie of cruisers and dinghies including pretty much every class sailing at the club.
The course would take the fleet on a tight reach downriver to Doctor, then a fetch, turning into a beat for some, back up the river through the Doubles and to Hilly Pool, then a broad reach to Herring Point, and finally a beat back against the tide to the finish line at the Club.
George got the fleet away cleanly and on time, with most being line shy, except for the fireball of Charlie Stewart and Sue Gibson which hit the line at full speed on the gun and broke away from the fleet. The breeze was up and down all the way to Doctor, with some gusts catching a few out, a quick swim for Richard and Mara Thomas in their RS200, and Barry Ely and Lyndsey O’Reilly in Poohsticks doing well to avoid a broach when reaching in close company with a concerned looking Paul Allen in his Fusion! It was a great sight to see as places were won and lost all the way to Doctor.
As the boats turned at Doctor there was close racing throughout the fleet, Charlie had slipped back into the pack with the other Fireballs, but places were changing all the way back to Hilly Pool as what started as a tight three sail reach became a beat. Joe and Clare Bird were leading the fleet home in their 49er, Julian Berney was mixing it up at the front in his National 18, crewed by Jess Welch and Martyn Hare. The Hare brothers Dan and Jamie were having their own private battle in their Aero’s, the 420’s were enjoying a close race, Nick Evans and Joey Taylor getting in front. The cruisers were making their presence felt, with John Dyer and team in Breezy looking impressive towards the front of the fleet.
Further back the slower boats were racing well, Julie Nelson and Jessica Finch, both sailing single handed in Mirrors, were pushing each other all the way, and the club cruisers were making good progress through the fleet.
At Hilly Pool the Fireball’s race was still very much on, Dave Hall and Paul Constable picked a perfect line into the mark to avoid the need for a tack and rounded just ahead looking as if they would get away on the reach to Herring Point. However, Charlie and Sue, rounding in fourth place were not done, and taking a lower line, seemingly in less favourable tide, they found a way back and led the others home on a close, short tacking duel to the finish line, just holding off Mark Maskell and Nigel Sheppard.
It was still all to play for further back in the fleet, with everyone clearly enjoying the gains and losses to be made in the final beat to the finish. Jamie and Dan in the Aero’s battled all the way, with Jamie just getting in front.
The Mirrors were not far behind, as the breeze freshened to help the slower boats beat the tide and save time on the early finishers.
Back ashore the club was running a MacMillan Cancer Support Charity event, everyone enjoyed drinking tea and eating vast amounts of cake in the late afternoon sunshine whilst Sheena and her team worked out the results in super quick time. Thanks to the generosity of members and guests, £912 was raised for this very important charity so a big thank you to all who showed their support. The results were very close throughout the fleet, anticipation was building, nobody knew who the winners were going to be! It was a day for the slower boats, with Julie Nelson in her Mirror winning both the Slow Handicap trophy and the Dyer Cup, and Jonathan Payne / Alan Sargeant in Ffumbler winning the Cruiser Cup. Julie was absolutely delighted, and Jonathan couldn’t believe he had won with such a dirty bottom!
The worthy prize winners were:
1 – Julie Nelson, Mirror
2 – Jessica Finch, Mirror
3 – Rob and Wendy Walker, Wanderer
Dyer Cup – Slow Handicap Trophy
Dyer Cup – Cruiser Trophy
1 – Ffumbler, Jonathan Payne and Alan Sargeant
2 – Breezy, John Dyer, Joe, James, Sarah and Shelley
Photos © Steve Perkins & Zoe Nelson
A fantastic regatta day set the scene for a memorable Club Week 2021 which ran from 22 to 27 August. We had great sailing winds for most of the week including two days when the wind was gusting F6 which tested the heavy weather skills or our sailors and kept our safety fleet busy. We had 122 boats racing crewed by 202 sailors and started 75 races during the week. There were 999 starters in those races with an average of 13 boats in each race. The largest fleet was the Medium Handicap which had 12 different classes and 29 boats, then the Lasers with 24, then the Mirrors with 16 and the Wayfarers with 14. During the week there were 40 different race winners. It was great to see so many of our cadets taking part across the fleets and in many cases beating the adults! At the end of the week, the winner of each class took part in a race series in Toppers on our training lake to decide the Cock O’ the Club – this was won by Fireball sailor Charlie Stewart.
Hot and cold food was available throughout the week from our catering galley and this was complemented by record sales at our newly completed bar and a great range of social events. These included a gin night, a quiz night, the Commodore’s supper with a best of British Theme and a last night party night with Thai food and dancing to the Redwood band.
All in all, one of our best club weeks for years and many thanks to all our staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make it such a safe and successful event.
Congratulations to our winners from each class:
Optimist: Callum Marshall “Victory”
Mirror: Any & Florence Pickering “Blue”
Topper/Tera: Jessica Taylor – Topper
Fireball – Charlie Stewart & Sue Gibson “Walkabout 3”
Fast Cruiser – John Dyer & crew “Breezy”
Medium Handicap – Guy & Alison welch – Snipe
Laser – Aimee Taylor – Laser Radial
Wayfarer – Martyn Hare & Steve Perkins “Pickle”
Sprite – Hilary Gallo & Clem Evans – Sprite 33
Club Cruiser – Paul & Evelyn Su “Sea Urchin”
Full results for the week can be found on our results page: https://blackwatersailingclub.org.uk/BSC-Race-results/10256832
Photos © Ian Johnson, Belinda Sturge & Nigel Butler
Saturday 21 August 2021 was a fantastic day for the club when we were finally able to officially open the rebuilt southern end of the clubhouse which was completed over a year ago. The busy day started with the regatta with 99 boats entered and 167 sailors across 11 fleets. The canons were used for starting for the first time in two years and the entrants had great racing in steady winds. Full results can be seen on our website by clicking the following link: Regatta Race Results
The crabbing competition got under way while the races were on and when the fireballs finished the ever popular ‘greasy pole’ competition started. A variety of other inshore games included swimming races and the cork race. The prize giving was held mid afternoon and we then prepared for the main event.
The official opening ceremony was carried out at 18:00 by Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Essex. Following speeches, a special presentation was made to Anthony Sinclair and Mick Sargeant to recognise their enormous contribution to the successful completion of the new building. Our Rear Commodore, Sheena Berney was presented with her RYA Volunteer Outstanding Commitment Award by Doug MacEwen, the chairman of the RYA East team. It was particularly fitting that this award was presented on a day in which Sheena had invested so much time and energy to make such a success.
Following the awards, the ribbon was untied and a commemorative plaque was unveiled in the new Lower Deck. 170 members and guests then enjoyed prosecco and canapes in the beautiful new upstairs club room and those who hadn’t seen the new building were able to take a tour and meet friends they hadn’t seen for a while. In the evening, 145 people enjoyed a catered buffet provided by Emma Kavanagh Catering and danced the night away to “Band on the Run”.
The flag officers and committee wanted to give all our members a memorable party to thank them for their support through the rebuilding and 16 months of Covid restrictions and to thank and acknowledge the numerous volunteers who had given their time to the building project over the past 5 years. The whole day was an overwhelming success and was a fitting occasion to mark the landmark of completion of rebuilding of the clubhouse started around the millennium. We now have a fantastic new, smart, energy efficient building that will provide great facilities for current and future generations of members.
Photos © Belinda Sturge and Peter Gould
On Saturday 7th August Blackwater Sailing Club welcomed 130 cadets aged 8 to 18 for its first post-Covid Cadet Week. There were a few adjustments made due to Covid precautions but all in all, and thanks to the efforts of instructors, bridge team, galley, ramp and lake volunteers and all other helpers, the Cadets (and everyone else) had a great week.
After registration the cadets enjoyed a unique land-bound relay event, retrieving Topper parts dispersed around the lake. This worked very well even with the sudden downpour that drenched spectators and competitors alike.
Sunday was deemed to be too windy and gusty for racing or RYA training on the river so the more experienced sailors went out for a high-octane blast on the river while the newer groups took turns sailing on the lake in the morning, and working on theory in the afternoon. In the evening the Cadet Commodore Kane Gooch and the Cadet Committee organised and hosted a Treasure Hunt and a team quiz.
Monday’s onshore event was games at Heybridge Basin playing field. Cadets gathered in their colour groups to face a number of challenges including a tug-of-war. Rupert Marks was kind enough to give a short talk on the work of the Pioneer Sailing Trust (Cadet Charity for 2021) and how it works, amongst other things, to develop the life prospects of young people. Back at the club, it was again a windy day but not as gusty as Sunday, so all groups went out on the river and lake as planned. The cadets were entertained in the evening with a film show.
Tuesday brought sunshine at last! The traditional Tractor Pull went very well and clearly came as a great (and happy) surprise to many of the new cadets we have this year. Wind and weather were perfect and both river and lake sailors had an exhilarating day’s sailing; followed in the evening by the Cadet Gala Dinner.
Wednesday saw another sunny day and good wind meant that the river racers had an excellent down-river day. In the evening a Covid safe outside disco took place . Parents were encouraged to make themselves scarce and the event went off very well!
The final day on Thursday started somewhat overcast but the mood was brightened by the prospect of the Fancy Dress competition and Cock of the Cadets race. This was followed by the Parents Race challengingly held in tiny Optimist dinghies. In the afternoon as the weather brightened, all 130 cadets set off for a cruise to Maldon , either in their own boats or riding in a RIB, some even sitting on the front of a Topper. They arrived at the Prom and descended en masse upon the ice cream stall. Back at the club at the end of the day, with the sun finally shining, it was time for prize-giving.
This fantastic week was able to take place due to the enormous commitment and enthusiasm of our Honorary Cadet Skipper Paul Trickey and the large team of coaches, instructors along with the Cadet Committee under the leadership of Cadet Commodore Kane Gooch; none of this would happen without them and the myriad of volunteers helping not only Cadet Week but throughout the year. Blackwater Sailing Club thanks every one of them.
Cadet racing results:
1st Ben Haigh
2nd Will Taylor
3rd Jamie Keegan
Laser Radial and 4.7
1st Marnie Aers
2nd Jack Bernard
3rd Hugh Andrews
1st Jess Haigh & Lucy Shelter
2nd Sam Glover & Charlie Bourne
3rd Osea Evans & Isabel Finch
1st Jessica Taylor
2nd Charlie Garlick
3rd Matthieu Bernard
1st Jess Welch
2nd Stanley Johnson
3rd Callum Marshall
Cock of the Cadets: Jess Haigh
Photos © Anna Lau
It was wonderful to be able to open our doors to the public on Saturday 26 June for the first time in 2 years due to Covid-19 and welcome the 365 visitors who flocked to Blackwater Sailing Club for our Open Day and RYA “Discover Sailing” event. The Blackwater was looking stunning under clear blue skies with glorious sunshine all day. 73 adult and cadet helpers from the club helped make this a fantastic day out for our guests, many of whom had never considered trying sailing before. The Friday sailors were kept busy providing numerous sailing taster sessions on our 7-acre training lake in our fleet of RS Quests throughout the 5-hour event. Once the water arrived, 26 family groups enjoyed a river trip on the launch, a Rib, a classic motor launch or sailing on a cruiser. Many just sat and enjoyed watching our club racing and the activity on the Blackwater Estuary.
Our Tour guides were kept busy showing 82 family groups around our beautiful new Clubhouse. We had a one-way system in place and a tally system operated by our Covid Marshall who regulated the flow of members into the building & ensured Covid regulations were followed. The galley did a marvellous job providing food and serving soft drinks, tea & coffee. The upstairs galley closed at 15.00 and the downstairs bar was then opened for drinks using table service.
The membership teams worked hard all day resulting in new applications from 47 adult members & 13 cadets, making this our most successful Open Day ever!
Thank you to the army of volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the day welcoming our guests and presenting a friendly, smiling face. Blackwater Sailing Club is a family friendly, members club run by the members, for the members. We are fortunate to have so many willing volunteers who freely give of their time to make the club such a great place and help make events like this such a success. Thank you to our many visitors for coming and we hope you enjoyed your day as much as we did.
Photos © Nigel Butler & Zoe Nelson
On Sunday 27th June 46 boats set out from Blackwater Sailing Club on a cool grey afternoon to take part in the annual Round the Islands races. 40 entered the main dinghy race around Osea and Northey Islands and 6 the short course around Northey. The entry fee was a donation to the RNLI and much to the delight of local Vice Chairman, Ken Harrison, we raised a fantastic £348.50 for our local lifeboat stations.
The 23 medium handicap boats started first in a brisk force 4-5 north easterly breeze with a short beat against the spring tide to Millbeach which helped spread the fleet out. A tight port fetch to Osea was too close for most to fly their spinnakers. The 17 fast handicap boats started 20 minutes after the medium and the chase for on. As the fleet approached Osea pier it became a beat with challenging shifty gusts which caught some out, particularly those who stayed close to the shore to keep out of the flood tide. Round the eastern tip of Osea the wind was gusting force 6 causing a lumpy swell as the leaders enjoyed an exhilarating reach along the northeast coast of Osea with the ultra-fast boats now overtaking the medium. The strengthening wind and the challenging cross swell caused a number of capsizes which continued as the fleet bore away onto a run towards Northey and kept the rescue boats busy. While passing south of Northey, some sailed too close to land mistaking tufts of grass as safe water only to impale themselves on Northey in 12 inches of water! As the fleet approached the southwest of Northey the fireballs and other fast boats were powering through onto the beat up the Northey shore to the finish.
It was great to see such a large fleet of boats out on the river in pretty challenging conditions and bodes well for our upcoming Cadet and Club week. Congratulations to Charlie Dixon who raced his foiling windsurfer round the course in a new record time of 38 minutes, but he couldn’t beat the Viper and the Spitfire on corrected time. Well done to cadet Theo Aers who skilfully sailed his full rig laser to 8th place and was the first medium handicap boat. Well done to the 6 brave young cadets and the short course fleet captain who battled their way round Northey on the short course.
Thanks to the race team, all the safety boat crews and the ramp helpers who helped make this such a successful race while raising money for the RNLI.
Round the Islands - dinghies:
1st Neil McCulloch and Jane Arnold - Viper – Jubilee Goblet
2nd Marcus Wallace and Abbie Wallace - Spitfire - Vincett Wings trophy
3rd Mark Maskell and Nigel Sheppard - Fireball
1st Jessica Welch - Optimist
2nd Luca Batley - Tera
3rd Optimist – Callum Marshall
For the full results visit the race results page
Photos © Zoe Nelson
Blackwater Sailing Club welcomed the BBC Look East team to our 7 acre sail training lake on Tuesday 11th May. We were delighted to be able to support Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 and facilitate the BBC to go sailing with Chelmsford Radio Yacht Club (CRYC) as a backdrop to talk about SAILING WELLNESS and the positive benefits of getting afloat and 'blue health'.
This is the first time the BBC have featured Radio Controlled Model Yacht Racing on the TV. The class CRYC race the IOM Class (International One Metre) and a number of club members are also members of the CRYC and take part in the competitive racing held at our training lake most Tuesday and Sunday mornings.
You can view an article about the filming here
You can watch the action on YouTube here
For more information about how you can take part in this exciting racing please visit the CRYC website
Photo and film courtesy of the BBC
Osea Challenge Cup
A cold, blustery NNE wind greeted the 26 boats entered for the Osea Challenge Cup on Sunday 25 April. Some decided to stay dry and warm, but the 14 who did start the main race, the long course, enjoyed a challenging and eventful race, with capsizes, breakages and a collision between a Sprite boom and the crew's head forcing half the starters to retire. Perfect conditions for the Fireballs, taking 5 of the top 6 places. Congratulations to Dave Hall and Paul Constable, worthy winners of the Osea Challenge Cup. There were no starters for the short course, this was carried over to Race 1 of the Britannia Series.
A fantastic weekend of racing over the early May Bank Holiday weekend, with 14 boats racing for the Long course Trophy, and a whopping 24 boats racing for the Short course. Despite the forecast for light winds, Saturday delivered a cold, gusty Northerly. The long course was set to make the most of the new race marks, with long beats, runs and reaches between West Point, Mundon, Beacons and Midway. The majority opted for the shorter course, staying in the more sheltered waters around Osea Road and Clarkes. Both fleets enjoyed close racing, with Gareth Davies (Foiling Moth) leading the long fleet overnight, and Jess Haigh / Lucy Shelter (RS Feva) leading the short fleet.
Lighter winds for day two, with a late afternoon start both fleets opted for shorter races, with very close racing throughout the fleet. Two different race winners for the long course, Dave Hall (Fireball) and Julian Berney (N18), and in the short course Howard Knott (Mirror) taking two wins.
Congratulations to the overall winners, Dave Hall / Paul Constable (Fireball), Long Course, and Jess Haigh / Lucy Shelter (RS Feva XL), Short Course. Jess and Lucy also win the Short Course Osea Challenge Cup.
Full results can be seen on the results page of our website
Photos © Tracy Haigh and Ian Johnson
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