2021 End of Season Report
Posted: Saturday, 9th October 2021
2021 has been a challenging year for offshore racing, due to Covid restrictions, and the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association season faced additional challenges from the weather.
A reduced, eight-race programme was devised, to comply with all the Covid rules, but one of those races was not sailed, because there was absolutely no wind, and another had no finishers, because the breeze died completely.
Nevertheless, 14 boats took part in the series, half a dozen using the early races to qualify for the Rolex Fastnet Race. Sadly, Simon Ruffles’ J120 Jameerah (Pin Mill SC) was seriously damaged in the very rough weather at the start of the Fastnet, and so missed the rest of the season, further reducing numbers, after a very promising start.
The season began rather later than usual, with the RORC East Coast Race (June 5) which for this year only had a 90-mile Harwich to Harwich course, to comply with Covid-related rules which prevented the normal trip across the North Sea.
There were ten starters, with one retirement, and the winner was Thomas Kneen’s JPK 1180 Sunrise (RORC) - which went on to win the Fastnet overall, so no disgrace for the local boats beaten by this welcome visitor from the South Coast. Nick Angel’s J121 Rock Lobster (Haven Ports YC) was second, and Jameerah third.
The committee was tempted to cancel the annual Offshore Regatta (July 8-11) as social distancing rules still made passage-racing problematic, with crews unable to sleep on board and comply, but competitors, desperate for time on the water, pleaded for a series of day races instead. A programme of four more Harwich to Harwich courses (all very different, as there are fortunately so many buoys to choose from) was duly devised.
Unfortunately the third planned race, the Amazon Cup, did not happen, because of that wind failure. Richard Matthews won the opening race in his spectacular new Carkeek CF 52 Oystercatcher XXXV (West Mersea YC), followed home by Rock Lobster and Robert Leggett’s X-332 Ape-X (HPYC).
Ape-X went on to win the remaining two races of the regatta, with Oystercatcher XXXV second and Jameerah third in the Mary Hill Trophy, and Ed Harrison’s Corby 29 Entropy (HPYC) second and Jameerah third in the Graham Wallis Trophy. Ape-X won the regatta overall, with Oystercatcher XXXV second and Entropy third.
Next race in the series was the Round the Goodwins, at the start of Ramsgate Week on July 18.
Only Ape-X and Oystercatcher XXXV were representing EAORA that day, and both were forced to retire by lack of breeze.
Ape-X sealed overall victory for the EAORA season with an impressive win in the Houghton Cup, combined with the historic Town Cup, at the start of Burnham Week on September 4. This time Paul Scott’s Sigma 38 Spirit (HPYC), a long-time supporter of EAORA racing, suffering an unusually frustrating season, was second, with Digger Harden’s J-92 Jackal (Burnham YC) in third place.
The final race of the EAORA season was the Buckley Goblets, which traditionally goes from West Mersea to Ostend. Covid restrictions still prevented going abroad, but this was at last a passage race, not a day-race, with a “proper” offshore course, round the outside of the Thames Estuary sandbanks, from West Mersea to Ramsgate.
It was won by Michael Wheeler’s veteran S and S 41 Golden Fleece (WMYC), making her only EAORA start of the season, with Spirit again second and Rock Lobster third.
Overall (seven races sailed, two discards):
1 Apex, X322, Robert Leggett, Haven Ports YC, 11.4 points
2 Oystercatcher XXXV, Carkeey CF 52, Richard Matthews, West Mersea YC, 24.7.
3 Rock Lobster, J121, Nick Angel, HPYC, 42.7
4 Spirit, Sigma 38, Paul Scott, HPYC, 44.7
5 Entropy, Corby 29, Ed Harrison, HPYC, 57.0
6 Jameerah, J120, Simon Ruffles, Pin Mill SC, 59.1
1 Oystercatcher XXXV, 6.0
2 Rock Lobster, 24.7
3 Jameerah, 34.7
1 Ape-X, 0.0
2 Spirit, 26.7
3 Entropy, 31.4
1 X-Ray, First 31.7, A Baker, Medway YC, 16.0
2 Woozle Hunter, Sigma 33, Hammond Syndicate, Marconi SC, 20.0
3 Golden Fleece, S and S 41, Michael Wheeler 32.0
Inter Club Trophy
1 Haven Ports YC
2 West Mersea YC
3 Medway YC