Wivenhoe Regatta - July 2016
A Special Event in Wivenhoe's Calender
The Pram Race
Really it just doesn’t get much sillier or funnier than this! Or maybe it does when it gets to the raft race. However as always the pram race was well attended both by participants and observers.
Some of the ‘prams’ looked a little suspect to me and in fact just weren’t up to the job as shown by the participant who came running over the finish line carrying his pram/pushchair over his shoulder and apparently without his team mate who should have been in the pram.
The winners did a record speed of the circuit and came in a long way in front of the other runners. But does it really matter who wins? I suspect not too much to all those people who laughed and enthusiastically cheered on the participants.
The leader in the race, ‘Snod’ certainly looked determined and I imagine both he and his team mate were only too glad of that final drink at the Black Buoy. Although they did also have a drink at each pub stop. Four in total.
I say had a drink, but the lead pram occupier was either working harder than you might imagine necessary while being pushed around in a pram from the very wet patch down the front of his tee shirt or more likely had difficulty getting the glass to his lips at one or two stops.
I wonder if that is the meaning of the saying ‘There’s many a slip twix cup and lips.’
But it was a good start to the main event on Saturday.
Each year there seems to be even more stalls with an even greater variety of wares. It is also an opportunity to make people aware of local events and plans for the area. Such as the Wivenhoe Society, which organises a number of events throughout the year. Or the Neighbourhood Plan stall where people can be updated on proposed housing and infrastructure for the Wivenhoe area.
But for many people the most exciting part of the day is to see the very large smacks in full sail that come up the river from Brightlingsea. And they really are an impressive sight. To watch them as they pass the flood barrier, their size is deceiving. But when they sail past towering above they are majestic. And to watch the people on board working on keeping everything under control, particularly the huge sails, is impressive.
Now I am a complete novice when it comes to ships, after all I am the person who used to say ‘Where do they park the boats’ but even I could understand the excitement of seeing the Pioneer sailing up the river.
The Pioneer was a deep sea Essex Smack 1st Class. She was orginally built in 1864 by Peter Harris of East Donyland, Rowhedge, Essex. She was commissioned by Charles Ford Bishop of Cowes, Isle of Wight. He was a master mariner who had an interest in the Colchester oyster dredging fleet which worked out of the River Colne in Essex. The Pioneer was re-built in 1999 at Brightlingsea by Pioneer Sailing Trust. She is the only remaining example of a fleet of over one hundred sea smacks that dredged all around the British Isles, the French channel coast and as far north as Denmark, fishing for oysters and scallops. She is now used for sail training enabling many young people to learn new skills
The raft race is another of the events that provide a deal of hilarity for both participants and spectators. The rafts can be made from almost anything as long as it can float. This year the winning raft was The Station (pub). Rather cleverly made from rubber rings, plywood, polystyrene and one or two other things. Two of the crew members Sean and Embers were nothing if not enthusiastic in their rowing and came in well ahead. Unfortunately one of the rafts seemed to have some difficulty getting away from the start line. One of the team decided to help it along by wading through the water probably at least ankle deep in mud and pushing the raft ahead of him. That certainly helped to get it moving but made little difference to the outcome of the race.
As always, there were large numbers of people who appeared to enjoy the event and were enthusiastic in their support of all the events on the water and even the weather was perfect with a strong breeze to help the ships along. All in all another successful Regatta.