It was a great privilege to be invited as officer of the day for this year’s Southend-on-Sea Sailing Barge Match. The OOTD’s job is to pick a course and with two hours flood left after the 11am start there was only one option: send them uptide.
Six barges, Melissa, Adieu, Edme, Lady of the Lea, Edith May and Marjorie, turned out for the 48th race and provided hundreds of Bank Holiday visitors to the end of Southend Pier with some close quarters sailing as the Force 5 westerly sent them hurtling towards the pier head.
The prize-giving was held in the Alexandra Yacht Club HQ which has a panoramic view of the Thames Estuary. The match has been growing in popularity over the last three years as the estuary is open for interesting races unlike some other East Coast rivers where the courses are ‘procession races,’ as veteran barge skipper and ace sailmaker Jimmy Lawrence commented.