End of the pier show

The 49th Southend-on-Sea Sailing Barge Match takes place this Bank Holiday Sunday with the first of the races starting at 11.30. It is a great day out for landlubbers as well as sailors as spectators can get the best view of the action anywhere on the Essex coast: from the end of the world’s longest pier.

Southend’s 1.3 mile long pier now has a ‘Culture Centre’ on the end which is another reason to take a bracing stroll along its Victorian planking. Indeed hundreds of Bank Holiday visitors turned out for last year’s match.

The barges competing this year will be Lady of the Lea, Marjorie, Melissa, Edith May, Phoenician, Niagara and Repertor. Lady of the Lea, pictured, is the smallest barge – a good 10 feet shorter than her sisters. She was built for the MOD in the 1930s to carry explosives down river from London.

The prize-giving will be held in the Alexandra Yacht Club HQ which has a panoramic view of the Thames Estuary.