Mirror Eastern Area Championships 22 Apr 2008
The Mirror Returns
The weather could have been kinder for the middle of April, on the Friday the north-easterly wind was so strong that once the tide started to ebb, the waters of the Crouch were too rough for dinghy sailing. Fortunately the wind abated somewhat on the Friday night and made it possible to complete five races over the weekend, thanks to the determination of the Race Officer and the perseverance of the competitors…
The Mirror East Coast Championships saw a welcome return of the familiar red sails of a Class that like so many others had many of its early outings on the River: the first Mirror Nationals were held at Burnham in 1963 and who can forget Gilly Riley and Bob Fisher sailing a Mirror at Burnham on Blue Peter?
For this event we were delighted that two Otters – Rory Page and Bethan Prestwich were brave enough to take up a challenge and borrow a Class Association boat. Rory and Bethan both normally sail Lasers but despite the weather – which prevented any practice – and a boat in need of some TLC they completed all races. A mix of “game for a laugh”, Corinthian spirit and determination – they were a credit to the Club.
The Mirror was, of course, originally designed in the early 1960s by the BBC’s DIY man Barry Bucknell. Bucknell developed a construction concept making the boat accessible to all but it took significant input from Jack Holt to finalise the hull design. Sponsorship from the Daily Miror led to the name and red sails.
The Class grew and has thrived on the original concept and remains a truly family dinghy. Almost uniquely it is sailed by all ages in different combinations. The Allen Brothers East Coast Championships was won by an 18 yr old sailing with his 14 year old brother. Within the fleet were a number of teams of under 16s and one father and daughter combination. In particular, unlike the other junior fleets, it allows for two similar aged juniors (say two 15 year olds) to enjoy sailing together.
Racing on level terms were also a number of Single Handers. The single handers are often parents of juniors who, rather than just watch their children, bring a second boat for their own enjoyment. However, as was the case at Burnham there is also a loyal band of Single Handers who are more likely to be grandparents describing themselves as “SKI” – “Spending the Kids Inheritance”.
Consequently the age range of sailors was pretty much 8 to 80!
Those Members who saw the Class launch or have studied the pictures will have noticed some changes to the original Bucknall design in particular the introduction of the Bermudan rig. For the purists, the mast is available in two parts so that (like the original gaff rig) it can be stored inside the hull.
Equally although now available in fibreglass, boats can still be bought in kit form; indeed that Class is actively encouraging and promoting kit builders and built a boat from scratch during this year’s Dinghy Show.
My name is David Conlon and I come from Brightlingsea Sailing Club along with my crew Mitchell Bond. This was the first event of the Nationwide Series. Having just turned 18 and passed my driving test a few months ago, this was the first event we have been to without our parents.
We had been praying for wind all week and on arrival on Saturday morning we were not disappointed; the wind was north-easterly and very gusty. We sailed down the Crouch for what seemed like forever but finally arrived at the race course.
Two races later and several wet crews we all retired back to the club house. The racing was good with a second and a third place in the bag.
We were lucky enough to know the Matthews family who organised our accommodation for the night. We all crashed out very early, shattered.
Sunday dawned misty with less wind. A slight delay for the fog to clear and then to the race course. Three races were sailed with the wind building throughout the day. In both the first two races we finished fifth so the championship was all on the last race between Ross Kearney and me.
After two general recalls the start line was moved slightly which made it favourable to start at the pin end; this we did and we went on to win the race and the championship.
I would like to thank the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and the sponsors, particularly Allen Brothers, for a great, well organised and enjoyable event. A special thanks to the wind gods who answered my prayers.