Twenty-two Brightlingsea One Designs came to the line for Pyefleet Week 2014 and broke the record for the largest number of BODs to ever race together. And what amazing racing it was. Things might have got off to a slow start thanks to Hurricane Bertha, and we might have had more than our fair share of low water racing as a result, but once underway the class made a stunning sight careening around the Colne in the stiff breezes.
An amazing group of sailors came together to make the fleet not only the largest ever but without doubt the most talented, competitive and diverse. The fleet featured four fibreglass and eighteen wooden BODs and the week once again confirmed that the glass and wood boats truly do compete on a level playing field with a well prepared wooden boat and a modern glass boat having virtually identical performance characteristics.
The youngest competitor was four year old Louis Hiscocks who did every race aboard Aina with grandpa Steve Heppell and father Simon Hiscocks. Louis proved that not only was he more than able to cope in the breezy conditions, but he also showed us that it is actually possible to play hide and seek in a BOD by disappearing completely from view behind the forward buoyancy bags one day.
Seventy-nine year old Barry Newman matched his status as the oldest sailor in the regatta by sailing the oldest boat in the regatta, BOD No 1 Jean which was built in 1927. Barry has been a BOD sailor most of his life and it was fabulous to have him back in the fleet for this record breaking year. He was crewed by Richard Bishop, back in Brightlingsea for a year from his new home in Canada, and old friend Gary Constable.
The fabulous Claire Bridle proved that the BOD is the perfect home for sailors with limited mobility by crewing Endeavour seated in a specially adapted fishing chair (thanks Julie Eeles for the help in devising that). Claire used to race dinghies regularly with husband Graham before being disabled by MS and, after an experimental run in Nan with the girls last year, they decided to give Pyefleet Week a go in the BOD this year. Nick Readings kindly lent them Endeavour and with son Will as crew the Bridle family took on the week with gusto and enjoyed a fantastic time with Claire once again able to be an active member of the crew.
Thanks to Nick Readings’ incredible generosity we also welcomed the King family to the BOD fleet with top youth sailors Ollie and James and dad Dan racing Nan, and BOD stalwart Dave Draper racing March Hare. Nick’s generosity in lending his fleet of BODs to those interested in racing in the class has been invaluable in generating new interest and the class is hugely grateful to him for his support.
After their last minute purchase of C30 Sarah Louise just a few days before Pyefleet Week, David and Celia Charlton and their crew Alison Jordan, put in a great first regatta performance to finish 12th overall. This was particularly impressive when you bear in mind that Celia hadn’t helmed in a race for about 30 years until she stepped into Grethe for a trial sail earlier in the season. But having helmed a BOD once she had the bit between her teeth and never looked back. We’re thrilled to have Celia and David in the class and very much look forward to racing with them in the future.
We had our own racing Reverend with us in the shape of the lovely Anne Howson crewing for Mike Hempstead in Gelasma, and of course we had Olympic Medallists, World, European, National and Youth champions galore duking it out on every leg. The depth of talent meant that not only was the racing close at the front of the fleet, but that there were battles going on right the way through the fleet with lots of exciting place changes on every leg and plenty to keep everyone’s adrenalin levels maxed out all week.
Once again our biggest event of the year came down to a nail biting finish with Jeremy Newman, Ollie Newman and Chris Rust, sailing C32 Avocet, only beating Chris Matthews, Sarah Bines and Ed Gibbons, sailing C27 Rebel, on countback after four extremely close races. Third place went to Malcolm Goodwin, sailing the newly restored C4 Cormorant with Graham Sunderland and Ian Newman, and Cormorant also claimed The President’s Trophy, which this year had to be sailed on the final Saturday of the regatta as Hurrican Bertha prevented the race going ahead on the usual opening Sunday.
The strong winds meant it was also a big year for capsizes and on Wednesday morning’s first race both White Magic and March Hare were caught out by the extremely gusty and shifty conditions. White Magic was blown in by a big gust as they rounded Mersea Stone on a close reach and March Hare was spun in by a 40 degree shifting gust on a run across the river. With help from the rescue boats both boats were rapidly recovered and able to race for the rest of the week. On Wednesday afternoon White Spirit also capsized during the Big Wednesday all in handicap race, but with the advantage of the added buoyancy in the new glass boats they were able to self recover and finish the race.
Barry has pointed out to us that the combined age of his crew was over 200 years, whereas the combined age of the crew of Rebel was just 63, which we think says something quite wonderful about the fleet.
The on the water excitement was matched by the post sailing fun with Monday night’s BOD Bavarian Extravaganza being, without doubt, the biggest night of the week and one of the best nights the club has seen in years. Huge thanks must go to Mark Wilby and Marianne White for all the behind the scenes organisation that made the evening a roaring success and thanks to everyone who dressed up and joined in with such gusto!
We must also thank Race Officer David Chivers and his trusty team for managing to organise four races for us in what were, without doubt, some of the most difficult conditions we’ve ever seen in Pyefleet Week. Thanks also to the Harbour Office for finding moorings for those afloat and to the team at Park and Ride who impressively managed to get 14 boats launched and recovered with minimal delays every day.
We made it to 22 boats for the entire regatta this year and with the Pyefleet Week 2015 dates now confirmed as 1-8 August 2015 our goal next year must surely be to have 25 boats racing!