Burnham Week 2016 – Winds gusting 23kts and choppy, wind-against-tide conditions made for a thrilling start during the opening weekend of Burnham Week 2016 (27 August-3 September).
A healthy entry of over 130 racing teams braced themselves for a lively first day and, although there were ultimately a few thrills and spills including a collision in the hotly contended 707 fleet on the first day, the first Bank Holiday Weekend Series at this premier east coast regatta was deemed a huge success.
The festival spirit around town was also in full flow with today’s celebrations to mark the annual Bank Holiday Monday Quay Day. This event, supported by Burnham Week organisers – Joint Clubs Committee (JCC) – has become one of the highlights of the first weekend and continues to attract thousands of visitors to this iconic east coast town. Crowds flocked to the waterside in glorious sunshine to enjoy the pirate-themed shore side activities in the presence of ‘Johnny Depp’, and to watch gig rowing, and racing, which today started off the quay for all to enjoy.
Racing throughout the weekend in the 14 classes was particularly intense with results in many fleets going down to the wire. In an effort to encourage all-comers, and to build up momentum for next year’s grand 125th anniversary event, the JCC has made it possible for a huge selection of classes to take part including IRC Class One boats, multihulls, keelboats, and cruisers. This year a seven-strong Finn fleet made its regatta class debut in the popular dinghy section and it is hoped there will be even more next year. The largest fleet by far, however, was the Squib keelboat class with 24 boats.
The Royal Burnham One-Designs (right) that never fail to produce exciting racing, was one of the most hotly contested fleets. Phil Plumtree and team on Ariel sailed an impressive opening breezy race on the Saturday to score their first win of the weekend. However, it was Chip Cole and his seasoned team on White Rose (RB1) who outshone the fleet with a consistent top three scoreline to win the Wylie Patterson Cup. Concluding the series with a second today was enough for Team Ariel to clinch second, just one point off the top spot.
In its 81th anniversary year the Royal Corinthian One-Design class rounded up nine teams and racing was exceptionally close. Going into today’s final race Stephen Rands on Cormorant with two wins in the ‘bag’ looked reasonably safe for overall victory. However, it was all about consistency and, with a final race second place to add to their previous third and second, John Waples and team on Corpo Santo snatched the overall win by just one point. The final, lighter wind race today was won by Barry Lewis on Corindelle.
The Squib class was on form as always producing closer than close racing. Robert Coyle on Humphrey opened the series well with a first race win but going into today’s race Malcolm Hutchings and Andy Ramsey on multiple Cowes Week-winning boat Lady Penelope, were looking good for an overall win with a three, one against Coyle’s one, four. However, Micky Wright on Spoof checked in at the top for the first time this weekend and although his win today made little difference to his overall score, a second place from Coyle against Hutchings 11th today, was enough for Coyle to clinch first overall for the David Eagling Memorial Trophy. The consistent Nic Tolhurst and Mel Titmus sailing By the Lee finished second overall, while Hutchings and Ramsey had to settle for third.
Coyle commented: “It was close with anyone of three of us in with a chance of the overall win. I am delighted that in the end it was us. It was tough today because it was so fickle and the last leg home against the one-and-a-half knot tide was tricky to say the least. Overall though it was a really good weekend of sailing.”
Competition in the big boat racing class was intense all weekend between former Town Cup winner – Tony Merewether and his team on Amazon (Jeanneau Sunfast 3200) and Team Jinge (Projection 762), who going into the final race of the Bank Holiday Series were on equal points. A fifth against Team Jinge’s sixth today, however, left Amazon the overall winner of IRC for the Emmett Cup for the weekend series, and also the Commodore’s Cup for today’s race.
A total of 11 International Dragon teams enjoyed a weekend of exciting racing in the challenging conditions. There was all sorts of fun and games particularly downwind on day one, which saw even the cream of the fleet including the likes of overall winners Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen and top Dragon crewmen Owen Pay and Chris Britton experience a bit of rock ‘n rolling on the run, in the powerful 23kt gusts. Cool, calm and collected, Team Hoj-Jensen on the restored, ageing 1987-built boat – Wish – managed an impressive one, one, one, three scoreline, beating the consistent Ian Gray and team in Scorpio – with three second places – by one point overall.
Class Five local handicap
Clive Cherry and Daryl Mylroie on their Nimbus Maxi Eclipse were the undisputed winners of the 11-strong Class Five local handicap fleet with three straight wins. Joint owners Cherry and Mylroie, and team raced well and were able to keep the ever-threatening team on the Hustler SJ 27 – Grace and Danger, at bay throughout the series. Roger Noble and team including Stephen Gosling and Andrew Courts on Grace and Danger sailed equally well but had to settle for second.
Class Six local handicap
This class enjoyed some equally good racing although the competition for the top spot was settled early on in the series when Len Cole and team on the Bavaria 37 Amanda Louise made a statement by winning the first two races. In an effort to repeat their winning performance from last year they concluded the series with another win today, which was more than enough win class for the BYH White Sails Trophy. In second place with a two, two, five was David Gamble on an Olhson 88 – Picaroon of Burnham.
Nigel Stevens on his Corsair F27 – Triassic – today broke Nick Wood’s total domination of the Multihull class by winning the final race. Wood, on the sporty F-27 MOCRA multihull Origami showed a clean pair of heels right from the start in the breezy conditions and won the first two races and ultimately the overall win for the Tolhurst Trophy. However, in the lighter winds today, Stevens sailed a good, tactical race and added his race win to his second and third to secure second place overall.
The elegant Elite class is gaining momentum as an alternative keelboat class at Burnham Week and although there were only six boats competing, the competition is hot. Charlie Pitcher – solo Atlantic rowing record holder – was on form at the helm once again and managed to steer Outlaw to an overall win, just one point ahead of Angus Bates on Flo.
The 707 class is known for its exciting racing and Saturday’s windy first race proved no exception. Paul Gray and his team of youngsters on Beaver Hunter including his son Rob, Rob Giles, Ollie Cook, and Joe Ragen were on form and started how they meant to continue with a first race win from Alex Hill on Riotous. Behind them however, there was all sorts of fun and games emerging, which resulted in a collision and Baby Beluga suffering a damaged hull and unable to race the rest of the series. Gray and team however, continued their winning form and, with three straight wins under their belt, were able once again, to clinch the coveted Hunter 707 Bowl.
Commenting on his win, for the second year in a row, Gray said: “Absolutely delighted to win again. It has been a great weekend. Today was interesting in the light, shifty winds and I think everyone had a go at taking the lead at some point. Thankfully it was our turn at the finish. We were actually in last place at one point today so spent the rest of the race working our way back through the fleet by taking the favourable shifts.”
Dinghy racing at Burnham Week is on the increase again with strong Phantom and Osprey fleets, and a Fast Handicap fleet. The Finn class made a welcome addition to the week with a total of seven boats. The outright winner after a tense battle with Fred van Arkel was Allen Burrell on a brand-new Devoti D-Fantastica – All White – who counted a scoreline of one, one, one, one, two. Burrell commented: “It has been a fantastic weekend with great breezes. Really pleased to have won but importantly everyone else seems to have enjoyed it so I think we’ll see even more here next year.”
Equally impressive scorelines were noted in the Phantom and Osprey classes with Chris Roberts on Gromit taking four wins to clinch the Phantom Trophy from Roger Smith on Wilding in the Phantom class. Burnham Week regular Robert Shaw took three wins and a third place to claim the Osprey Trophy.
Some of the most exciting racing was in the Dinghy Fast Handicap fleet where Jamie Waterhouse (470) and James Hutton-Penman (Aero 5) enjoyed a series-long battle. Although Waterhouse just edged ahead with a string of first places, he had to keep a careful eye on Hutton-Penman, and also the ever-threatening Dylan Collingbourne, and Ant Law in their Laser Radials.
Gigs from rowing clubs from all around the east coast wowed the crowds during the 6.2-mile sprint race for the Lord Nelson Cup yesterday, which was won by the local team from Burnham Coastal Rowing Club on Willow.
Burnham Week Racing continues throughout the week and concludes next Saturday with Trophy Day, which includes the Town Cup for IRC Class One yachts rated a minimum TCF .875. Burnham Week’s legendary shore side entertainment also continues all week. A grand fireworks display to mark the end of the regatta and celebrate the prizewinners including the winner of the Town Cup, will take place next Saturday evening (3 September).
Further details at the event can be obtained from the Regatta Office located at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, at the eastern end of the quayside.
by Burnham Week