The Old Gaffers Association are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and the Round Britain Cruise (RBC60) has been a key part of their celebrations. Starting at Ramsgate between 27th & 30th April, the fleet visited ten other locations around the UK and Ireland before arriving at the finish line on the River Orwell to hold their Jubilee Party between 3rd and 6th August.
Due to unseasonal weather, some of the fleet had remained in Lowestoft for a few nights awaiting a favourable weather window to head south; departing on Tuesday 1st August on what would turn out to be a challenging passage down to the River Orwell. The following day the fleet arrived on the Orwell along with other vessels attending the OGA Jubilee event.
On Friday, 4th almost one hundred traditional and working boats gathered on the Orwell for the Jubilee Parade of Sail, the larger vessels sailing down river from Ipswich Beacon Marina while the open boats sailed up river from Suffolk Yacht Harbour at Levington.
It was an interesting day weather wise as the day dawned in bright sunshine with perfect sailing conditions for the downriver fleet, but by lunchtime conditions rapidly changed as a huge rainstorm joined by thunder and lightning hit the river Orwell with many of the sailors describing the turn of events as “biblical” having never sailed in such poor conditions! Sailing on for another half mile, the curtain of water ceased to reveal perfect sunshine once more such are the vagaries of Summer in the UK!
Sunday 6th August saw many traditional and working boats out on the River Orwell ahead of the OGA60 Jubilee East Coast Race. The theme of challenging weather continued to impact the event and strong winds meant that an inshore course was set for the larger boats starting from the Haven Ports Yacht Club start line up the River Stour to Stour no.1 buoy and back. The open boat race started later in the afternoon once the wind conditions eased to a suitable level however only two of these were able to complete the race. Some splendid drone footage was taken during this race by Jeff Welch.
As part of the OGA60 Jubilee event, EAST provided both of our support boats to provide assistance over the weekend; Points EAST crewed by Allistair Renton, John Maxwell, and John Bayley, with East Support crewed by Geoff Dreher & Jim Jenner. As well as providing safety cover, the support boats provided a platform for the OGA’s official photographer.
OGA Chairman Robert Hill stated that they were very impressed with the help and support EAST provided over the 3 days of closing weekend at Levington, and as a result of OGA charity auction on Saturday evening, around £2500 was raised for EAST to continue our work in creating sailing opportunities for blind and disabled people and other projects. We are enormously grateful to the OGA and their members for their generosity and wish them all well for the future.
More information about the Old Gaffers Association can be found on their website here. www.oga.org.uk
(Photographs: John Bayley)