Spruced up with a shiny new coat of paint and smoothed seams for 2015, Maria was ready for the Wivenhoe Regatta race on June 6.
With her on the Bateman’s Tower line were the big smacks Sunbeam, Alberta, and My Alice, all of whom beat Maria to the reaching start.
Places didn’t change fetching out of the river and only when the fleet turned the corner and headed upwind did Maria begin to make inroads into the other boats, gradually working towards the front opening up a comfortable lead at the finish.
After a leisurely lunch back on the mooring in the Pyefleet, the race upriver to Wivenhoe beckoned. Starting at the leeward end proved to be a mistake, as the wind headed and left Maria having to claw to windward to make the first mark while the smacks that had started higher sailed a faster course.
Sunbeam led the way, with Pioneer second, My Alice third, Alberta fourth and Maria a close fifth as the fleet entered the tricky bends downriver from Wivenhoe – made all the harder by a lack of water – there was still well over an hour of flood to go – and the wind on the nose.
My Alice was the first to find the bottom on the Wivenhoe side, and just seconds later, Alberta parked mid-tack on the Fingringhoe shore. Just to leeward, Maria had no room to tack and skipper Paul took the only option – running up the mud alongside Alberta.
Pioneer lost out after dicing with Sunbeam and a cruiser and parked near the moorings off the sand wharf, while Sunbeam avoided the bottom, and whizzed through the barrier to the finish. The Bawley Dorana joined My Alice on her side of the mud not long after.
So, line honours to Sunbeam and something of a first for Wivenhoe with the rest of the fleet making their way up under engine (or pushed by the smack’s boat in Maria’s case) for a quick beer ashore. Here’s hoping we don’t repeat our grounding on the next race, Rowhedge Regatta on June 20.
Crew for Wivenhoe was Paul, Crispin, Pete, Andy, David, Drew, Mark, Joe and Sally.