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
Following our reopening on 29 March, BSC returned to racing in style over the Easter weekend on 2-3 April. Despite the cold, grey weather, with a biting NNE wind, there were lots of keen, happy racers out. During the two days we had 11 boats in Fast Handicap, 22 in Medium Handicap, and 8 in the Short Course fleet – 41 boats for the first event of the season! To comply with our Covid-19 protocols, all participants had to register to race via the website or member App. A ramp marshal controlled access to the ramp to ensure social distancing was maintained and the spacing between starts was increased to avoid any crowding ashore. The changing rooms had to remain closed so participants were encouraged to come changed or had a chilly change in the car park.
All fleets were racing around the new 2021 courses, using some of the new race marks – everyone had to think hard to work out where to go, and there were a few cases of boats rounding the wrong marks, and at least one occasion of a whole fleet heading for the wrong windward mark!
There was close racing throughout, with multiple race winners. The Fast fleet was won with a race to spare by Maria Richards and Graham Hoy in their Fireball, the Medium Fleet was won by Jess Haigh and Lucy Shelter in their RS Feva XL.
Closest finish was in the Short Course fleet, ending with three Jessica’s on equal points, Jessica Taylor and Jessica Garlick in their Toppers, and Jessica Welch in her Optimist. Jessica Taylor was the overall winner with the best individual race score enough to split the three of them!
The Novice Optimist Winter Cup was won by Callum Marshall, always smiling his way around the course and finding time for a friendly wave to his friends as he passed them on the river. For the full results please visit the results page
Thanks to all the volunteers, including Race Offices Sheena Berney and Barry Foulds, and the RIB crews who endured the cold to keep everyone safe.
Steve Perkins, Hon Sailing Secretary
Photos © Nigel Butler and Belinda Sturge
As the daffodils burst into flower to announce the arrival of Spring, I am delighted to announce that we can reopen the club on Monday 29 March for general sailing, boat maintenance and cruiser launching. Now we have a roadmap out of lockdown we have a better idea of the route to normality. The Covid-19 team and the management committee will discuss our stepped plans for reopening in detail and I will send members a more detailed update before we reopen. We will continue to follow a considerate and conservative approach, but I hope that we will be able to start racing on Good Friday 02 April using the Covid-19 protocols we established in 2020.
Flooding following record winter rainfall turned into freezing during February as the ‘beast from the east’ hit with the club blanketed in snow. The swans were seen skating on the pond and Zoe flew her drone to capture some great aerial shots of the snow. As the snow melted a rapid rise in temperature make it feel like Spring and the waterlogged grounds started drying out at last. The staff are working hard getting many jobs done and we hope everything will be looking good and ready for our reopening.
Photos (c) Zoe and Julie Nelson
Many thanks to our Sailing Secretary Steve Perkins, Ewan Harris and their team from the Sailing Committee who since 2019 have been working on improving our existing courses and adding some new race marks. The new race courses have now been published and the five new marks have been purchased. The new marks are Sandy Bight, Muddy Cove, Beacons, Mundon and Kraken. We now have 96 courses with a something perfect for every wind direction and distance. You can view and download the new courses and race marks map from the Racing at BSC page. To learn more about how the new courses developed please read New Courses Development
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