Over the weekend of the 6th and 7th June the activity on the water focussed on oars as the club hosted the two day Manningtree Rowing festival. Eighteen boats and crews from clubs all around the Essex Coast and from as far away as North Norfolk joined the local Claydon Skiffs for two days of racing in fantastic weather. The boats included ten of the new Harker’s Yard Gigs built by apprentices at the Pioneer Sailing Trust’s Harker’s Yard in Brightlingsea. The first of these cold moulded, wooden, brightly coloured Gigs was launched in March 2012 and there are currently thirteen, with two more in production. The Gigs have led to a real increase in local participation in coastal rowing with lots of new clubs and increasingly tough competition among the crews.
Harker’s Yard gigs at Manningtree – photo Kelvin Howlett
Saturday featured a series of two mile sprint races for women’s, men’s and mixed crews. The course was challenging, with a row against the tide on the way out, followed by a rough section across the estuary and then back against the wind on the home leg. We were pleased to see two of the local Claydon Skiffs – Myrto and Witchoar joined by Gallister Maid of Holbrook for the Women’s Sprint Race which was a hotly contested race won eventually by the Witchoar crew who also placed second overall in the women’s race on handicap.
Close competition between the Claydon skiffs – photo Kelvin Howlett
Sunday was a long seven mile race down the river to number 4 at Wrabness in wonderful sunshine and back to finish in front of the Club. The conditions on the river were perfect with calm water and a decent sea breeze picking up behind the boats on the return leg, leading the fastest boat ‘Mehalah’ from Mersea to complete the course in a record time of 1 hour and 12 minutes.
First start for Sunday’s 7 mile race – photo Robert Rice
The Mersea Coastal Rowing Club took many of the honours in the Harker’s Yard and other classes over the two days, sharing some honours with Vanduara from Brightlingsea. Local Manningtree boats Witchoar and Myrto took first and second places in the Claydon Skiff classes.
Passing Mistley boatyard – photo Kelvin Howlett
Outside of the racing crews enjoyed the Club’s hospitality with breakfast on arrival and a barbeque following the racing on both days, not to mention a very welcome pint or two. Huge thanks are due to the large number of volunteers from the club, who helped Rear Commodore Robert Leeds with the organisation of the event – and without whom the event would not have been possible. All of the visiting crews enjoyed their trip to Manningtree and we had loads of positive comments on the event and the welcome that they received at the club. We hope that the Rowing Festival will be continue to be a key event in the Club’s summer programme and expect even more boats and crews to take part next year.