707 Eastern Area Championships 2008 10 May 2008
Eleven 707s contested the East Coast Championships hosted by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club on the early May bank holiday weekend. Racing was professionally managed by Edwin Buckley and his team in the River Crouch in perfect sunny conditions for the three days which made a great weekend of sailing.
Race 1 got underway with Richard Barnes’ Cacciatore helmed by Mark Dell leading the fleet round the top mark closely followed by the rest of the fleet who all dived quickly across to the north shore to get out of the ebbing tide. That was all except for John Lewis on Baby Beluga who seemingly defied logic to sail down the middle of the river against the tide to lead at the second mark. Lewis and team held on to take race one from Cacciatore and Richard Bavin’s Racehorse who hugged the shore tighter than any other boat on the downwind legs.
Race 2 unfolded in a similar way to race 1. Cacciatore led round mark one with Baby Beluga again proving they know the river better than anyone else to sail through the fleet to take the lead to the finish. Second were Cacciatore, with Paul Gray’s Beaver Hunter winning the battle for third from Blowfish. Pocket Battleship recorded their best result of the weekend with 5th place.
Sunday’s racing was approached with the usual bleariness, not least by Beaver Hunter, who had travelled to Oxfordshire for their hangovers, with most for the fleet opting for the more traditional excesses at the Royal Corinthian. Having managed to flag down a high-speed tow to the race area, the main victims from the previous night arrived just a little too late for race 3 aboard Blowfish. Race 3 got under way at the second attempt, and the whole fleet charged for the shallow water under the north shore wall. Once there, there was much shouting for water, starboard, etc., accompanied by some expletives from the fishermen who lost at least three of their lines. Cacciatore led from start to finish, but it was Marlin who were perhaps the most impressive having made (another) terrible start to round the first windward mark in second place which they held to the finish. Racehorse was third.
By Race 4 the tide had turned to the relief of the local fishermen, but was otherwise unremarkable (at least to your author). Baby Beluga was back to winning ways, with Cacciatore second and Beaver Hunter third.
By Race 5 the wind, which had been force 2-3 for most of the day, was dwindling. By the time the fleet had completed a beat and reached the comparatively slack tide under the north shore for the run, Cacciatore and Beaver Hunter had built a decent lead from the rest of the fleet. However their battle took them out into stronger tide, allowing the whole fleet to overtake. Braveheart played the conditions best to win, followed by Swordfish and Marlin. Black Sheep had their best result of the weekend with a 5th. Cacciatore finished an unaccustomed 10th.
Monday’s race was back to ideal conditions again, with force 3 and sunshine. Only two boats were in contention for the overall win, with Baby Beluga needing to beat Cacciatiore by two places to win. Race Officer Edwin Buckley once again set a perfect windward leeward course, allowing competitors a choice of which shore to avoid the worst of the adverse tide on the beats. Swordfish led the bulk of the fleet on the right on the first beat, but it was Black Sheep who came in from the left to lead round the windward mark, followed by Swordfish and Beaver Hunter. Black Sheep and Swordfish both made mistakes, but Beaver Hunter sailed a faultless race to win. The only visitors to Burnham, Miss Moneypenny, recorded their best result of the weekend. Baby Beluga pipped Cacciatore for second place, but third place was sufficient for Cacciatore to be crowned East Coast Area Champions.
A big thank you goes to the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and all who gave up their time to run an excellent event.