Mersea Week 2018
Mersea Week is organised by a dedicated committee on behalf of West Mersea Yacht Club and the Dabchicks Sailing Club on Mersea Island; it is unquestionably one of, if not the biggest sailing regatta on the East Coast.
This year there was a near record entry of local boats with an incredible 34 MFOBs [Mersea Fisherman’s Open Boats] and a really good fleet of Oyster and Fishing Smacks. There was also ever-increasing support for White Sail cruiser racing, with this class seeing a total entry of 17 boats.
In addition, many other vessels, ranging from small dinghies to classic and historic yachts raced, some of which had travelled far and wide to compete.
The weather was variable throughout the week, making sailing conditions interesting, to say the least. Competitors coped with too much wind, not enough wind and near perfect winds. Peter Fitt and Brian Bolton, the very experienced Race Officers, made decisions on the day regarding safe and suitable courses that were sometimes challenging, but always enjoyable.
Prize givings took place every evening, followed by free entertainment, making this a very memorable event for everyone. Much to the delight of Mersea Island residents and holiday makers, the daily spectacle could be seen from the shoreline and provided a magnificent sight.
The Mersea Week race team and committee are truly grateful to their sponsors – Adnams Brewery, Marinestore Chandlery, West Mersea Oyster Bar, Becky’s Butchers, Catering Elite, Fenn Wright, Marfleet Contractors and West Mersea Marine. Their support, along with the provision by the Mersea Moorings Association of free moorings for visiting yachts, ensures that Mersea Week remains affordable for all and continues to thrive.
In the racing, the Smack fleet was dominated by the two fastest boats – Ross Wey at the helm of Alberta winning from Richard Haynes’ Kate, with Angus Milgate’s Peace in third. The winner of the Slow division was Rob Lee and Gareth Honeyford’s Dorothy.
The organisers were really pleased to see an excellent 11 boat entry in the IRC Sportsboat class, including seven of the growing local Cork 1720 fleet, and it was one of these – Richard Matthews’ Decoy, which took top slot, with the Melges 24s Brandyhole of Leo Knifton and What A Blast of Hamish Cock next up.
The nine strong Sonata class again enjoyed some close tussles, Simon Farren’s Camel winning from Aubie Too (Tony Hawkes/Pat Hill) and Wet Endeavour (the Gozzett, Roberts & Shipton partnership).
As in previous years, the Local Handicap cruiser fleet were divided into two divisions. In the ‘A’ division, the Beneteau 31.7s Toucan (Ed Taylor/Richard Davonport) and visiting Wookie (Stuart Howells) placed first and third, with Frank Reed’s Hustler 32 Tramp skippered by Steve Johnson in second. In the ‘B’ division, Mersea Week Chairman Julian Lord with the H Boat Humdinger took top slot, ahead of the Sigma 292 Dura (Alan Mason/Shirley Swan) and the visiting Limbo 6.6 Eau de Vie (Cheryl Wright/Ernie Breavington).
Similarly, the Classic Yachts & Gaffers raced in two divisions. Whilst small, the ‘A’ division saw some very close results between first and second – 3secs one day, 10 secs another!
It was the Jack Knights designed keelboat Black Diamond of Greg Dunn which won from John Munns lovely looking Nicholson 43 Dark Horse. The large and varied ‘B’ division was dominated by visiting boats, Simon Lewington’s Brittany class classic
Droleen II winning by just a point from the leading Stellas, Stardust (Philip Waring) and L’etoile (Tim Wood).
The White Sail class again raced on the RYA’s NHC system of handicaps, which can see big changes in handicap from one race to the next. Despite retiring on the first (windy) day when his children were seasick and then suffering a 60 odd point handicap change by the final race, the overall and ‘B’ division winner was Ben Simpson sailing with his family with the MG Spring 25 Recoil. They were also awarded the trophy for the best overall performance in the cruiser classes. Second both overall and in the ‘B’ fleet was Bob Mercer with his Hustler 25.5 UFO. These two were followed by the leading ‘A’ division boats, David Curtis Bavaria 34
Hannelore and Rob Smith’s Oceanis 323 Tamarisk.
In the dinghy classes, Janek Payne won in the Lasers/Radials ahead of Keith Stubbs. The remainder of the dinghies were separated into four classes, according to PY numbers. Regular visitor Mike Izatt dominated the Fast class with his RS600 Le Surf, with the RS400 of Tony, Rosie and Jamie Brown in second and another visitor, Robert Stebbing third with his Int. Canoe Hard & Fast. Mike Izatt was also awarded the trophy for the best overall performance in the dinghy classes.
In the Medium Fast class, Peter and Elaine Dolling with their Enterprise won by a single point from the 420 TomTom (Tom Brown/Ollie Latham). Libbie Watkins placed third with her RS200 Forget-me-Not.
RS Feva XLs were to the fore in the Medium/Laser 4.7s, with Gabby Clifton and Daisy Weston winning from Charlotte Allen and Juliette Martin. In third place was Gabby’s Mum Maddie, the leading Laser 4.7. Alex Canham’s RS Tera Sport was the
And so to the mighty fleet of MFOBs – all traditional gaff rigged boats with no decking, of varying sizes and handicaps – and divided into Fast and Slow fleets. In the latter, Simon Jacklin’s Winnie took the overall win from Eden (William Powell/Matt Heathcote), Bumble (Peter Rowe/Kevin Wood) and WMYC Rear Commodore Alan Jones in Ellen. The fast class was dominated by Allen Vince and Jamie Chatterton in Spat, followed by Gerard Swift’s Mystery, Thrift (David and Paul Haynes/Wayne Harvey) and the Payne and Robinson families in Mystery of Tollesbury.
A truly magnificent performance by all concerned and appreciated by everyone, well done once again!
Thank you for organising a great week of racing and social events. The committee must have friends in the right place to have arranged such good weather too!
I enjoyed Mersea Week more than ever, great courses, great weather and great racing. Thank you for your efforts to make it the huge success it was. All the best.