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Mersea Week 2021 at West Mersea Yacht Club

by Chrissie Westgate 17 Aug 13:22 PDT 8-13 August 2021
Tumlare 'Zest' spinnaker reaching - Mersea Week 2021 © Chrissie Westgate

Following the 2020 event having to be cancelled, this year's Mersea Week saw competitors return with great enthusiasm to enjoy some very competitive racing on the River Blackwater estuary in Essex. Despite the first day's racing being lost to strong winds, the full schedule of races was completed, and in a variety of conditions, peaking out with 20+ knot gusts on the final day to fully test both crews and their boats.

The 47th running of this popular East Coast week had the usual cruiser classes, along with Smacks, IRC Sportsboats, Sonata ODs, Classic Yachts and Gaffers, Mersea Fisherman's Open Boats and three dinghy classes, and this spread contributes to the continued high entry numbers which enhance the success of the week.

Entries in the Smacks class were a little down this year, but the boats made their usual spectacular sight, especially downwind when setting a cloud of sail. Three race wins saw CK52 Kate skippered by Will Crossley win the class, ahead of the other race winners CK318 Alberta (Richard Haines) and CK171 Peace (Angus Milgate), with CK395 Puritan (Charlotte Cock) next up and top of the Slow Division.

Winning all but one race, the clear winner of the IRC Sportsboats class was Toby Ramsay's self-designed and built one-off Mojito, with the leading Cork 1720, Alison Banks with No Excuse in second and the Clifton family's SB3 Super Bazooka third.

In the Sonata class, with five race wins, Tony Hawkes and Pat Hill's Aubie Too was another clear winner, ahead of the Jess Gozzett, Harriet Shipton, Abbi Roberts and Kate Banks all-girl partnership with Wet Endeavour and Roger Sydenham's Parody.

A fifteen strong entry in the Classics & Gaffers class ranged from Ross Wey's beautifully restored 47ft Alfred Mylne yawl Gudgeon to Richard Ham's 22ft gaffer Fanny of Cowes, built in 1872 as an Itchen Ferry boat. The top three overall positions went to boats in the Fast Division, with Julian Lord's Tumlare Zest coming out well on top, ahead of Simon Lewington's Brittany class Droleen II and Flicka II, Scot Yeates Nordic Folkboat.

Zest and Mark Montgomery-Smith's Stella Lodestar were the only individual race winners. In the Slow Division, the Buchanan ECOD Tasman of Peter Clarke was first, with two gaff cutters next up - Nancy Harrisson's Nesta and the David Hillyard designed Iskra of Keith Muncey.

The main locally handicapped cruiser entry was divided into 'A' and 'B' classes. In the former, Stuart Howells Beneteau 31.7 Wookie took the overall win on tie break after winning the final race, with Greg Dunn's YW Diamond Black Diamond just missing out. Placed third was the Projection 762 Bananaman of Bruce Woodcock and Joe Billing.

The 'B' division saw four boats needing to be separated on tie-break after finishing the week tied on points. The outcome was that Barry Ashmore's C&C27 Algonquin was the winner, with Richard Holroyd's MGC27 Tearaway, the Sigma 292 Dura (Shirley Swann and Alan Mason) and a second MGC27, Vic Prior's Skybird in the next three positions.

With an entry of 18 boats, the White Sail class enjoyed some close racing, and a single point separated the top two - both in the Fast division - Rob Smith's Beneteau Oceanis Clipper 323 Tamarisk's more consistent results enabling him to win from Andrew and Jill Stebbing's Hanse 311 Seahawk, despite the latter's three race wins.

Third overall was the leading slow division boat, Bob Mercer's Hustler 25 Ufo, with Jon and Penny French's Oyster 26 Sea Pie fourth overall and third in the fast division. Next in the slow division were Steve and Deb Johnson's little Beneteau First 211 Bear and Mark Trebilcock's Rustler 31 Skebawn.

The Mersea Fishermans Open Boats were the usual wide range of sizes and sail areas, with the 24 strong entry split into Fast and Slow Divisions. The Fast and Overall winner was Tom Bowman's CK59 Mystery, with WM33 Prince (Will Montgomerie), OZ1 Joanne (Chris Green) and WM25 Merlin (Brian Sargeant) the next three. In the Slow division, Graeme Provan's WM27 Willotte took top slot, ahead of ILCA7 sailor Will Powell with WM7 Eden and Bev Philpott's WM60 Vicuna. Rob Lee's WM700 Genesta recovered from a first race capsize and near sinking to take fourth.

The dinghy entries were divided into three fleets, with ILCA4s making up the entire Slow class, and dominated by Alex Canham, ahead of Lindsey Allen and Alex Clarke. With a final race second place, Brian and Linda Cummings Enterprise took the win in the Medium class, with the ILCA6 of Poppy Lowe second, followed by the Solos of Brian Lamb and Viv Fox.

The Fast class saw Dan Woodcock's RS400 a clear winner, ahead of Henry Wells B14 and the RS600 of Michael Iszatt.

merseaweek.org has the full results for cruisers/smacks and dinghies/MFOB.

Mersea Week would like to thank our weekly sponsors; Adnams Brewery, Marinestore Chandlery and West Mersea Marine. Also, our daily sponsors; West Property Management, Catering Elite, Mersea Island Watersports, Fenn Wright and Mersea Homes. Without the ongoing support from these business's Mersea Week would not be the marvellous event it is.

Shoreside

You didn't have to be a competitor in Mersea Week to enjoy the festival atmosphere. There was lots to see and do throughout the week and observing the array of boats sailing by from one of Mersea Island's beautiful beaches, was pure delight. To conclude the week and following the final prize-giving, all present were treated to a spectacular firework display, courtesy of the Mersea Week committee and Mersea Homes.

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