A change in the rules of Burnham Week mean that cruising boats may qualify to compete for the Town Cup

Breaking with tradition and opening up the entry to allow more classes to take part in Burnham Week’s signature event, The Town Cup on the final Saturday, has encourage more entries for the 2015 regatta.

With just over six weeks before the start of Burnham Week, one of the East Coast’s premier family regattas (29 August to 5 September, 2015), the number of entries is up on this time last year. The organisers  the Joint Clubs Committee (JCC)  say that as a result of giving all yachts rated under IRC/SER (0.890 and above) an opportunity to take part in the Town Cup, instead of the traditional IRC Class 1 yachts only, there are positive signs that interest in the regatta is starting to build.

This means that many boats from around 28 feet and up, such as a Hunter Impala, may be able to join in the fun. An IRC/SER rating is a single event rating, so that boats can compete in one-off events without needing to buy a full rating. An SER rating costs £1.50 per metre, plus £5 per day of the event.

Duncan Haley who regularly competes at Burnham Week in his SJ320  Double Trouble  says he is delighted that that he’ll finally be able to take part and have a chance of winning the coveted Town Cup. ‘Opening up the entry is great news not only because it gives us a chance to win the magnificent and historic piece of silverware, but also because it seems to be attracting a flourish of interest. Now even boats like Quarter Tonners can take part which will make it really exciting.’

Close racing among the big boat racing fleets

Close racing among the big boat racing fleets

Tony Merewether, who will be there to defend the Town Cup title he won last year with his team on Amazon (Jeanneau Sunfast 3200), added: ‘The Town Cup is still the premier trophy in Burnham Week and I welcome the decision to open up the entry to as many IRC yachts as possible, particularly as the average size of racing yachts seem to be getting smaller.’

The organisers are also delighted that their simple entry system on their new website burnhamweek.com has made signing up for the regatta a speedy process.

Paula Stanbury  JCC marketing executive  commented: ‘Competitors want quick and easy and I believe we have delivered on this. The site also has a lot of information for both visitors and competitors, and during the week there’ll be instant updated race results. The feedback we’ve had so far is extremely positive and we are looking forward welcoming more visitors to the site.’

The regatta action kicks off on the Bank Holiday weekend with a chance for IRC/SER yachts to contest the Commodores Cup on Bank Holiday Monday. There will be races for local handicap cruisers (spinnaker and non-spinnaker), one-designs including Dragons, Squibs, 707s, Royal Corinthian, Royal Burnham, and also several dinghy classes notably Ospreys and Phantoms plus fast and slow dinghy handicap.

The Mid Week Regatta that runs from Tuesday to Friday will see plenty of activity this year particularly with the addition of Hunter 707 class that will contest its national championship (1-4 September). Squibs, Royal Corinthian and Royal Burnham One-Designs will make up the bulk of the other mid-week classes, plus a new format for cruiser/racers, which gives an opportunity to compete under local handicap in two classes, is likely to generate more interest.

Royal Burnham One-Designs mixing it with the Osprey class

Royal Burnham One-Designs mixing it with the Osprey class

Classes that don’t qualify for entry to the Town Cup on the final Saturday will compete for individual class trophies, all of which will be presented at the prize giving later that evening.

The JCC-supported Quay Day on Bank Holiday Monday is expected to kick start Burnham Week’s legendary shore-side activities. There’ll be plenty of stalls and activities including local crafts, and food, plus a play area for children which includes face painting and pony rides. Pubs, cafes and some of the local yacht clubs including the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club will be open to visitors for food and refreshments all day.

By popular demand to account for growing population of motorboaters based on the east coast, the JCC have introduced Bank Holiday weekend motorboat classes with results based on predicted logs.

Gig racing, which proved highly popular last year is expected to be even more competitive with at least 18 teams already signed up for the JCC-supported races on Sunday, and Quay Day racing for the Nelson Cup to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar, on the Bank Holiday Monday. The start of this challenging five-mile sprint is 1330 from the Town Quay. Spectators are advised to arrive early to secure a prominent vantage point along the shoreline.


Burnham Week

Burnham Week has been running for over 100 years, which makes it one of the oldest regattas of its type. It is organised by the Joint Clubs Committee known as JCC, which incorporates Burnham’s four clubs  Royal Burnham YC, Royal Corinthian YC, Crouch YC, and Burnham SC.

Because the event has always taken place at the end of August, historically it marked the closure of the racing season and, in its heyday years between the late 50s and 70, Burnham Week attracted some of the largest racing boats on the circuit. Many of these  ocean racers headed to Burnham for the final regatta of the season after completing the Fastnet Race.

The Town Cup contested by the largest yachts at the regatta on the final Saturday, is one of sailing’s most prestigious trophies. It was first presented in 1927 and is awarded on an annual basis by the Town Mayor at the prizegiving ceremony at the Crouch Yacht Club. The winners are obliged to fill the cup, and parade it around the Town. One of the most popular winners, in 1972, was the then Prime Minister, Right Hon. Edward Heath MP and his team aboard Morning Cloud.