The River Yare is one of the main navigable waterways of The Norfolk Broads, a series of historic man-made lakes, in England which runs all the way from Norwich to the North Sea.
Every year in late September, Coldham Hall Sailing Club holds the Yare Navigation Race for river cruisers (traditional cabin yachts) from Coldham Hall down the river to a marker at Breydon Water near Great Yarmouth and back, a distance of 30 to 34 miles.
Skippers are allowed to choose their own start time (at fifteen-minute intervals) with the aim to reach the Breydon mark just after the tide has turned, thus giving them the tide back up the river. This decision can often win or loose the race.
Each class of yacht is given a handicap to ensure that all the entries have an equal chance. Depending on weather conditions, the course can be completed in 5 to 9 hours. With up to seventy boats taking part, it’s inevitable that some drop out during the race, often due to broken masts or capsizing.
It was fun to watch the boats trying to maintain the best position near the start line, often in close proximity to each other. There was more than one near miss with typically British restrained responses from the parties infringed upon.
Many of the boats entered are very old, having been lovingly maintained and restored by their custodians. The yacht my parents share recently celebrated its 100th birthday!
If I’m able to make it back home at the same time next year I’d love to take part.