EAORA Shipwash Race and Time Trials
I felt a bit of explanation for two of the items in the summer sailing programme might be of help to some of the newer members, as well as some of old lags who have forgotten all about the Shipwash Race and the art of the time-trials.
Once upon a time when men were men and boats were made of wood the intrepid heroes of the PMSC used to go out and do some serious racing offshore. Those who have read Renee Waite’s club history ”Pin Mill Sailing Club Sixty Years”(a snip at all good Pin Mill Sailing Clubs) will have learnt that in 1949 a youthful Brian Humby who was then sailing secretary organized the first Shipwash Galloper Race. Rennee’s book says that it was arranged under the auspices of the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association although the information I have about the EAORA says that the association was founded in 1950. Perhaps I ought to buy a copy of Jan Wise’s “50 Years of East Anglian Offshore Racing” as this might throw some more light on the subject. Anyway for those who are not aware the EAORA is not a club but is an association of clubs who join together to run races off the East Coast. In the early days the PMSC was an active participant but in more recent years although still an affiliated club the club has had little to do with the organization. One or two club members are still active participants.
As the name suggests the original course was basically round the Galloper and Shipwash sands. i.e. half way to Holland, north a bit and then back again. I do not have the exact information but I would guess it was somewhere in the region of 80 miles. When you consider the boats they were sailing did not go particularly well to windward, they had no GPS and that the weather forecast were fairly dubious you have to respect the early competitors even though this may not be your idea of a good time.
In the 1949 Race the then PMSC Commodore Martin Salter presented a silver cup for the overall winner in all classes. In 1951 The Offshore cup was presented, possibly for the slower Class II boats and was won in the first year by John Howard who became Commodore the following year.
By 1960 the number of boats entering the race was dropping and in 1961 the course was changed to a 50 mile race off Mersea and the original cup was renamed the Slater Cup. The PMSC continued administering the trophies until about 1980 but after that trace of them disappears. If anyone knows where either of them are please let me know.
In 2004 the EAORA decided to resurrect a Shipwash Race and this will be held on Saturday 15th May. The race is being run by EAORA but is being jointly sponsored by the RHYC and the PMSC. Full details can be obtained from the EAORA web site at www.eaora.org.uk The first start is off Harwich breakwater at 09:00 and the boats will race out round the South Cork, Sunk LV, the Shipwash, then a quick detour round the cans of Orfordness and then back home. It is hoped to finish the boats at the RHYC line so you may see some go-faster boats racing up the river some time in the afternoon or evening. The prizegiving is being held at the RHYC on Saturday evening. It would be nice if a PMSC boat entered but any boat would have to comply with all the EAORA Regulations details of which can be found on their Web site.
Around this time of year I always think that I would like to have a go at a time trial but every October for the last ten years my wish has been unfulfilled. (Too lazy!)
I am uncertain as to when the Time Trials started but the basic principle is that a circular course is set (the current courses can be found on Page 4 of the Almanac.) It is up to the entrant to decide when to start, between May 3 and October 9th and which way round to sail the course. You are racing against the clock although there is nothing to stop boats racing together. The times are then submitted to the Sailing Sec and corrected for handicap. The person with the fastest corrected time at the end of the season wins the trophy. It is an interesting exercise in seamanship and navigation as you have to work the winds and tides to best effect as well as getting the boat to go as fast as possible. I had a go in 1994 and thought I had done reasonably well but my time was easily beaten a few days later probably due to the more experienced judgement of Brian Humby about when to start.
When I first joined the club in 1991 the A class course was around the old Shipwash Galloper course. The instructions were quite alarming in that they said that if there was a Force 6 wind or more in the forecast prior to your start then so many minutes an hour would be deducted from your time. If it was me I would stay at home with that forecast although I seem to remember someone telling me that Joe Dunnet with his smack Dorothy put in a very good time one year in near gale conditions.
In 1994 the course was reduced to about 50nm to go round the Shipwash and Sunk LV and as far as I can make out Max Pennington with Genoa was the last person to enter a winning time in 1995. By 1999 the course had been reduced in size still further to take you round the Medusa, Sunk Head Tower, Long Sand Head and Cork Sand Beacon thus keeping you south of the shipping channel all the time. So far as I am aware nobody has yet made an entry. B Class yachts also have a smaller course round the Cork Sand and again so far as I am aware there have been no entries for several years. As an ex-member of the sailing committee I would be very pleased if the club members once again took part in the Time Trials. If you would like to enter, for either course, please send your entry to the sailing secretary email@example.com. I can give no guarantee about trophies but in any event this is not really about pot hunting it is about testing your skill and navigational judgment. On the right day it can be a very pleasant day’s sailing. So why not have a go?
John Sparks (01473 788186) e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Note: In the best journalistic traditions I have not had the time or inclination to check the exact dates etc of some of the information above and it should not be relied upon as historical fact.)