25th Piers Race
74 boats attended this year East Coast Piers Race sponsored by Wildwind at Marconi Sailing Club. The race is organised by Marconi Sailing Club to raise money for The Cirdan Sailing Trust and the Essex Air Ambulance.
Rain and light winds greeted competitors on Saturday, but thankfully Sunday saw excellent conditions with a perfect breeze and plenty of sunshine for the main events.
With this year being the 25th East Coast Piers Race, the organising team decided to open the shorter Colne Point race up to fast dinghies with a PY of 917 or faster. This attracted 7 dinghies from a variety of fleets.
Two races were scheduled for Saturday with race officer Mike Turner setting two medium distance races so the competitors could become familiar with the river. The first course was to Bradwell baffle and back. A late wind shift before the start of the race lead to a downwind start and a car park at the first mark, the late starters got lucky taking a wide berth around and to the front of the fleet. The end of the race finished in style with a squall coming through the race course for the last five minutes knocking some boats straight over. This also created a spectacular photo finish between Michaela Dowley and Phillip Marks in their Tornados. Paul Tanner from Gurnard Sailing Club took the overall race victory sailing his Shadow.
The winds became lighter throughout the afternoon so a shorter course was sailed for the second race. Some competitors decided to save their energy for Sunday's racing and didn't compete in the second race. It was William Sunnucks and Freddie White who won the race in their M20 Vampire. Overall Saturday victory and the Cool Cats Trophy went to Oli Northrop and Josh Clarke who secured two third place results.
Luckily the sun had decided to make an appearance on Saturday evening with many competitors enjoying a beer or too many outside the club on the sea wall watching a beautiful sunset over Osea Island dreaming of winning that Wildwind holiday in the raffle.
Sweet Caroline bellowing across the campsite loud speakers roused competitors at 7.30am on Sunday to ensure competitors were awake and ready for the early race start.
Marconi Sailing Club were pleased to welcome back ex-member and Multihull ace Mark Bulkeley as our guest starter and prize presenter. Mark was a member of Marconi up until he went to university, since then he has been part of Team GBR sailing the Tornado in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. He has also been sailing Extreme 40s and now the AC45s for Team Korea.
The East Coast Piers Race was started at 09.30 with another downwind start. Will Sunnucks, Grant Piggot, John Ready and Michael Dowley made a quick start off the line and out of the river with the positions staying the same all the way to Clacton on the return leg. However David White and Kyle Stoneham were on the heels of the faster boats in their F18. Phillip Marks managed to squeeze through on the upwind leg back catching John Ready and match racing him back into the river.
By that time Will Sunnucks and Grant Piggot had disappeared into the distance sailing the M20 and Nacra Carbon 20. They were first over the water followed by four Tornados, an F18 then a mixture across the fleet.
When the first two boats arrived at the turning mark after 1 hour and 30 minutes it looked as though they were on to smash the current course record of 4 hours and 6 minutes but unfortunately the wind died off towards the end of their race.
The Colne Point race started at 9.50am which this year included fast dinghies. The first boat round the mark at Colne Point was the 49er sailed by Tristan Hutt and Nick Murray from Stone Sailing Club. They couldn’t hold onto their lead upwind on the way back with the Nacra 20 of Mark Smith and Rob Buckmaster taking the line honours and smashing the Colne Point record by five minutes.