2019 East Coast Piers Race

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East Coast Piers Race weekend once again a success with 86 entries taking on the long distance racing challenge.

East Coast Piers Race (ECPR) is a weekend of sailing held at Marconi Sailing Club in Essex, with all funds raised from entry and weekend activities going to chosen charities the Cirdan Sailing Trust and Essex Air Ambulance.

ECPR 2019 was part three of the Allen Endurance Series. We’re pleased that so many boats pre-entered this year, it makes organising such a complex event much easier.

The weekend kicked off early, with many competitors arriving onsite Friday to claim the best camping pitches and take full advantage of the stunning Essex sunshine to get boats rigged, tweaked and tuned ready for the weekend of racing. With several major competing events either side of ECPR we were glad to see the F18’s and RS800 fleet make small but strong turnouts to the event.

Drink Mighty Oak beer, raise £££ for charity

Some keen sailors also opted for equipment test sails Friday afternoon, before settling down in the newly refurbished “Mamgu” bar for a pint (or three..) of Mighty Oak Brewery beer, who for the second year were incredibly generous in their donation of 7 firkins of beer (over 500 pints). All the funds raised from Mighty Oak’s excellent beers (at £2.50 a pint) going to charity. Of course, any socially conscious sailor can’t help but do their bit for charity in said scenario!

Saturday racing around the cans

Saturday morning saw many competitors still flooding in through the gates early, and lots of activity in the boat park to get ready for the afternoons racing around the cans. The Nacra 20 fleet turned up en-mass and dominated the boat park with length, width and height, making even a Tornado look small!

Race briefing kicked off at 12:00 for the all-in Saturday races, with 43 boats competing. The breeze showed up and competitors were treated to good conditions.  Race 1 turned into an epic 1 hour 45 minute marathon multi-lapper, in front of club, much to spectators and travelling family-member’s enjoyment.

Race 2 was a considerably shorter affair to get everyone back for the #cometothebriefing for the Sunday long distance races. Overall Saturday winners in the Catamaran fleet and taking home the ‘Cool Cats’ trophy were Grant Piggott and Simon Farren on their Nacra F20 Carbon. Winner of the Dinghy fleet was Andrew Stickland in a Musto Skiff.

As per the usual ECPR format, the race briefing for Sunday was held on Saturday evening due to the early race start on Sunday. This year was a particularly bleary eyed start of 8am… The briefing kicked off at 6pm with a full marquee of competitors keen to understand the 3 race courses available. To cater for dinghies up to 1046 PY and foiling catamarans the 3 race courses are 48 miles, 27 miles and 13 miles.

Allen’s generosity goes down very well

This year the race chairman, Andy Dowley, had a nice surprise to finish up the briefing on – Free beer! Race sponsors Allen, kindly contributed a £250 donation to cover the cost of 100 pints of the Mighty Oak charity fundraising beer. Inevitably there was the quickest exit from any race briefing, with possibly the most politest and orderly taking of free beer ever witnessed. Great job Allen and Mighty Oak, competitors and non-competitors saluted your generosity.

Next up was the BBQ, getting our hungry sailors re-fuelled and ready for a night of live rock from, possibly the loudest band we have ever had a Marconi, Essex based ‘Stiff InThe Morning’. To say they rocked would be an understatement, they went down a storm, a personal favourite being their cover of ‘By the way’ by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

The Sunday long distance races

The traditional ECPR wakeup call of ‘Sweet Caroline’ by Neil Diamond roused bleary-eyed sailors, much to the race organisers delight many boats were ready and waiting for the 06:30am opening of the hard and scrutineering. Due to the long distances of the races competitors have to take certain safety equipment with them and each boat is checked through the gate in the sea wall to ensure everything was present.

The full distance East Coast Piers Race of 48NM started at 8am, with the fleet storming off, but the breeze was not going to last, and as the 27NM Colne Point Race exited the river so did the breeze.

From that point on it was a case of finding and staying in the pressure, with mammoth holes appearing in the course. All races played like an accordion, compressing and expanding as they reached the front and back of the gusts along the course. The volunteers on the spotter mother boats moored along the course were treated to a slow but tight race.

The race officer made the right call, and shorted the full ECPR race at Clacton. This meant that the front runners of both races came back into the river together with every boat hunting for pressure, the fight for wind had obvious winners and losers. This resulted in many a close finish, the closest going to the Tornado fleet where many were within seconds of each other after 30+ miles of racing! Seconds really made the difference at ECPR 2019.

Line honours for the ECPR race went to John Tuckwell and Jon Cotgreave on a Nacra 20 Carbon and in the Colne Point race Stewart Smith sailing a Nacra 16 Solo for the cat fleet and Tristan Walker-Hutt and Tom Clayton on their International 14.

Under gorgeous sunshine the overall winners were announced at prize giving:

  • ECPR – Simon Northrop and Caleb Cooper sailing an F18 (2nd year in a row)
  • Colne Point Race for Cats – Nigel James sailing a Sprint 15 (a Marconi member ☺)
  • Colne Point Race for Dinghies – Chris and Amber Brown sailing an RS400
  • Bradwell Race – Dylan Collingbourne sailing an RS600

A special mention must go out to Grafham water sailing club for winning the club trophy, toppling island yacht club, who’ve held on to that trophy for the last 100 years (or so it feels like!).

A raffle is also held over the weekend, with this year’s prizes ranging from a day’s sailing with our charity partner The Cirdan Trust, many GP Sail bags, goodies from Zhik, free entry into next year’s ECPR and vouchers from Sailing Chandlery.

A massive thank you to all our race sponsors who we couldn’t run the race without:

ECPR 2020 will take place on the 27th & 28th June – a date for your diary!

If you want to watch the GPS tracking of the races back you can do it here.

Full results can be found on the East Coast Piers Race website – www.eastcoastpiersrace.com.

For more photos, videos and information please see the East Coast Piers Race Facebook page.

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Andrew is Marconi Sailing Clubs webmaster. He sails a Tornado Sport Catamaran and Sprint 15.

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