Mersea Week 2016
by Mark and Helen Montgomery-Smith
What a memorable colourful spectacle and celebration of sailing prowess Mersea Week and part of the Stella World series this year proved to be.
The weather was glorious. Smacks, IRC, fast and slow cruisers, Sonatas, Squibs, white sail fleet and dinghies. Over 200 boats with the proud and buoyant locals showing that this was the place where Olympic Gold medal winners come from. Saskia Clark was there at the prize giving and 1st prize for the whole week in the Classics and Gaffers B Fleet went to Tim on L’Etoile.
There was a photographic competition to capture the spirit, which really should have gone to Trevor on Stella Lyra for the picture above.
Lodestar was late for the first race on Tuesday and met up with Tim and his crew, merry on a runaway win by 8 minutes. The pretty ECOD, Wizard, was second and Stella Lyra 3rd.
We joined in the second day, and thought we were all set to show L’Etoile the way, squeezing Wizard out of the pin end with a perfect start, only to realize we too were squeezed out of the pin end by Aelfwyn, a Buchanan Saxon. We both came around and crossed the line again inside the pin and had a fantastic race in the glorious sunshine trying to catch up the fleet and finished with L’Etoile first again, then Wizard, then Lodestar and Stella Lyra and then the other 6 boats in our fleet.
The next day was the first of the Stella Worlds and Stardust joined in so there were 4 Stellas in a 10-boat fleet. The wind was light at the start, with Lodestar getting a good start up wind of Stardust then L’Etoile then Stella Lyra. Halfway through the first windward leg the wind picked up and as it hit the leaders the gaps opened up in order and the order of the Stellas did not change. That evening we and the crew of L’Etoile were introduced to a new drink by Captain Stiletto ’’Dark and Stormy’’ which definitely didn’t describe the week.
Friday, we woke up on Lodestar with a fickle breeze and motored out to catch a buoy before we ran aground in Mersea mud due to being berthed on the piles so we could row ashore in our dinghy.
Just after the Smacks had set off first start, the wind disappeared and they had to be called back to restart all the races to wait for the light forecast wind. We all milled about and Trevor got out his camera again.
Once we were underway, L’Etoile and Stardust were battling neck and neck for 1st all the way round, as ever Trevor captured it beautifully. The final positions were another Stella 1,2,3 L’Etoile, Stardust, Lodestar.
On Saturday we were treated to a proper sailing wind the high end of a force 4, and an exhilarating race, which was a great finale to the week. Trevor was too busy to get a shot but an excitable fleet meant there was a general restart and L’Etoile had a good second start and got line honours, with Lodestar and Stardust getting second and third.