Yacht racing returns to historic town

By Sharon AsplinYACHT racing is set to return to a town after a gap of 15 years as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for the Battle of Trafalgar.

By Sharon Asplin

YACHT racing is set to return to a town after a gap of 15 years as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for the Battle of Trafalgar.

The races, to be held in Harwich Harbour during the weekend of April 30 and May 1, will also celebrate Admiral Nelson's links with the maritime town.

They form part of the Sea Britain 2005 festival, which commemorates and raises awareness of the country's maritime and coastal heritage.

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Terry Corner, commodore of the Royal Harwich Yacht Club, said: “I felt we should do something to mark Sea Britain 2005.

“The death of Nelson in 1805 and the founding of the yacht club in 1843 is not that far apart. It is not unreasonable to think that a founding member could also have served with Nelson at Trafalgar.

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“We are very grateful for the agreement of Harwich Harbour Authority to allow us to mark Sea Britain 2005 in this way.

“We regularly raced from Ha'penny Pier up to 15 years ago when the number of yachts and ferries were such that it was prudent to move to the Breakwater for yacht race starts. The disadvantage of the breakwater is that the spectator opportunity is considerably reduced.”

The event will commemorate the day in August 1801 when Nelson and his frigate Medusa were weatherbound in Harwich.

Nelson was determined to leave that night, but his pilots refused to consider taking Medusa over the flats extending seawards from the Naze at Walton.

But a maritime surveyor agreed to take the risk in high water and managed to steer safe passage.

The passage created a record for ships of Medusa's size and was afterwards known as the Medusa Channel. The channel and buoy off the Naze are still in use today.

On the afternoon of April 30, the club's annual “tuning fork” series of races - short races at the beginning of the season to allow crews to practise starts, sail changing and check out their craft - will be adapted for the Sea Britain festival.

Races will start from the Guard Buoy off the Navy Yard and, this year, the final race will finish off Ha'penny Pier. Spectators can expect the craft to return during the late afternoon.

They will then moor at the pier overnight before joining other craft for the Sunday morning races out to sea.

Spectators are invited to the pier to see the racing start from 11am on May 1. Craft will finish at Levington in Suffolk and return to Harwich in mid-afternoon. For more information or an entry form, contact 01473 780319.


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