Glorious sailing conditions for the start of Burnham Week 2015 – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

Glorious sailing conditions for the start of Burnham Week 2015 – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

A total of 130 teams basked in glorious summer conditions on Saturday for the opening weekend of racing at Burnham Week 2015.

Although the winds were generally light throughout the Bank Holiday Weekend series, racing was intense with results going right down to the wire in many classes. Even today’s persistent rain failed to dampen the spirits on-shore for those celebrating Bank Holiday Monday Quay Day – supported by Burnham Week organisers, Joint Clubs Committee (JCC).

With an increase in the total number of entries this year, and a distinct festival buzz around town, Burnham Week has confirmed its status as the premier east coast regatta. The 14 different classes ranging from IRC Class 1 boats, to multihulls, keelboats and a huge fleet of dinghies enjoyed close, tactical racing throughout the three-day, first weekend points series. The biggest turnout was the Squib class with an impressive 25 boats.

Racing in this fleet was, as always, extremely close but Robert Coyle and Marc Rawinsky on Humphrey managed to snatch overall victory after today’s final race, which they won by an impressive margin. In second place overall was Malcolm Hutchings and Jackie Tracey on multiple Cowes Week-winning boat Lady Penelope. Coyle commenting as he stepped ashore this afternoon, said: “Really pleased with our team work today. It was all about carrying out a good start and thankfully it worked well for us. With just one point ahead, we had to beat Malcolm to win the weekend, so once we got ahead at the start we took advantage of our position and extend our lead to the finish.”

Competition in the big boat racing classes was intense all weekend but it was Tony Merewether and his team on Amazon (Jeanneau Sunfast 3200) that sailed consistently well to not only win IRC overall for the Emmett Cup for the weekend series, but also win today’s Commodore’s Cup.

Close racing in the Dragon class – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

Close racing in the Dragon class – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

Consistency was the name of the game too, in the 11-strong Dragon fleet. A final race win for Mark and Mandy Wade and Andrew Norden on Avalanche was enough to secure the three-day series from Ian Gray and team in Scorpio. Mark Wade said: “The race officer did a great job given the tricky conditions. We enjoyed really good racing on a good variety of courses and today, in particular, we thoroughly enjoyed because we had a really good scrap with Mark and Selina Dicker. At one stage our boat wasn’t going well then we realised we were over-sheeting because the tell-tales on the genoa were getting stuck to the sail in the rain. We all put our heads together and worked out what it was, so today was all about good team work.”

One of the most stunning looking boats competing this weekend was the West Solent One-Design – Suvretta – owned and skippered by Dutchman Ben van Dijke. Van Dijke and his four-strong team sailed impressively to take an overall win of Class 5. Commenting as he prepared to sail the boat back to his home port of Pyfleet on the River Colne, a little further up the east coast, van Dijke said: “I am absolutely delighted to have won my class. This is the first time I have competed at Burnham Week and I have really enjoyed it. To have any chance of success at this regatta however, it is imperative to learn about the tides. The team worked well and it paid off, so we are all pleased.”

Len Cole and team on his Bavaria 37 Amanda Louise sailed well to win Class 6, while Nick Wood and team on the sporty F-27 MOCRA multihull Origami won the Multihull class from fellow F-27 sailor John Galloway on Threedom.

The 707 class preparing for national championship later in the week (1-4 September) were out in force and racing was, not surprisingly, intense with just one point separating the top two boats after the three-race series. Paul Gray and team on Beaver Hunter just managed to hold off Aaron Woolf and Team Rafiki to win the series. Gray commented: “We had three different winners in three different races so racing was close and really good fun. We are now preparing for the nationals where at least 12 boats are expected including three from Scotland, so things are just about to get even more lively.

Photo – Graeme Sweeney/JCC

Photo – Graeme Sweeney/JCC

The local one-design classes including the Royal Burnham One-Designs and the Royal Corinthian One-Designs never fail to produce exciting racing. In the RBOD fleet Will and Barty Dallimore and team on Mandarin produced a consistent set of results including two seconds and a first, which was enough for an overall class win. Chip Cole and team on White Rose were second.

The RCODs, celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, also produced a strong, competitive fleet of 10 boats but by far the most consistent was Sue Law, Nigel Cole and David Shapiro in Coralie who concluded the series three points ahead of second placed John Waples on Corpo Santo. Law, who was given the boat by her husband, Ant, for Christmas said she was delighted to have won. “This was the boat my father owned and I originally learnt to sail in. It was a total surprise Christmas present, so to win the class this weekend is fantastic. The win came down to today’s race. Waples was ahead but he had a bit of problem rounding Crow mark, which gave us an opportunity to get through and, with good team work and a bit of luck, we managed to stay ahead.”

Dinghy racing at Burnham Week is always popular and this year proved no exception with strong Phantom and Osprey fleets, and a Fast Handicap fleet, which included a range of classes from a Finn to RS200s. Jonathan Lewis (RS200) managed to beat Arthur Brown (Laser Radial) in the Fast Handicap fleet to take the weekend series, while Russ Wheeler just held off Robert Shaw for an overall win in the Osprey class.

Party time on the balcony of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

Party time on the balcony of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club – photo Graeme Sweeney/JCC

In the Phantom class, Matthew House from Royal Harwich Yacht Club was the winner of not only the weekend series, but also the Phantom East Coast championship. Commenting on his win, House said: “We’ve had really good racing right up to the wire. After a two-hour, 20-minute race yesterday in the strong tides, I think the win was down to survival of the fittest. It was tough but great preparation for next weekend’s national championship at Minnis Bay.”

Elsewhere in Burnham visitors along the Quayside were treated to an afternoon of gig rowing racing. A total of 20 teams from rowing clubs from all around the east coast braved the extremely damp weather to contest the inaugural Nelson Cup. The race for this Cup to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar was held on a challenging five-mile sprint off the Quay and was won by Team Mehalah from West Mersea.

The racing and shore side entertainment that Burnham Week is known for continues throughout the week and concludes next Saturday with racing for all classes including all yachts rated under IRC/SER (0.890 and above) competing for the Town Cup. A grand fireworks display to mark the end of the regatta and celebrate the winner of the Town Cup will take place next Saturday evening.



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