Essex Yacht Club members count the cost of blaze

Fifteen boats have been destroyed in a suspected arson attack on an East Coast yacht club. Fire-raisers clambered beneath wooden racks supporting the yachts and set it alight.

Members of the Essex Yacht Club were horrified to find their newly built wooden racks on the sea wall at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex had been torched. Many dayboats and dinghies including GRP Estuary One Designs were trashed in the blaze.

The isolated club HQ is based on a converted minesweeper which is cut off from the town by a railyway line. Although burglar lights have been fitted to the hull of the craft, the place is exposed at night to passing felons.

The EYC has suffered trouble before when violent gate-crashers tried to board the vessel during a party. Members were attacked and one hospitalised.

Some members rue the day that older, traditionalist flag officers ruled out moving to a shore premises along the sea wall at Chalkwell. This was a Victorian former tea room which could have been easily converted and would now be worth around £800,000. Instead they are left with the onerous task of raising money every time their clubship needs replacing.