OGA celebrates 50 years in colourful style despite strong winds

Start of Clog race by Keith Allso

Strong winds meant that just 60 boats completed the OGA’s 50th anniversary race at Cowes on Saturday, but it didn’t prevent the organisation’s members having a lot of fun.

Almost 200 traditionally rigged sailing boats gathered in Cowes Yacht Haven and Shepards Wharf Marina from all round the UK, and from as far afield as Holland, Belgium and France.

Some 141 boats registered to participate in Saturday’s big race, which would have set a new record for gaff-rigged boats racing together. However, strong winds deterred entrants, and only 94 boats started the race. Many then retired as the wind got up and the sea became rougher. But 60 stalwart boats soldiered on and finished the course.

One of the photos below by Keith Allso shows the 18ft Chough owned by Christine and David Christine Hopkins, which at 18ft the smallest boat to finish the race.

At the other end of the scale, the deep sea smack 68ft Pioneer was the oldest boat at the festival. originally built in 1864 and recently restored by the Pioneer Sailing Trust in Brightlingsea.

She once worked the fishing grounds off Terschelling, but now she takes groups of up to 12 young people from all sorts of backgrounds out to sea for an experience of a lifetime. This weekend she was crewed by a group of young carers.

Pioneer picked up more than one prize in the racing: she was first over the finish line, second in her class on handicap, and to top it all she was awarded the Youth Cup for the crew with the lowest average age.

OGA president Mike Shaw announced the launch of an OGA-sponsored youth fund to support the work of Pioneer and others like her.

Dutch visitors to the festival challenge the different UK OGA areas to make up a simple model racing boat using a kit comprising a clog, a shaped wooden keel and a lump of lead for ballast. A race was held in the marina as part of the regatta, and the winner was awarded a carved wooden tulip awarded by the Dutch skippers.

There’s more to read on the Sailing By website, and more here from Bonita.

Photos by Keith Allso, except deep sea smack Pioneer, which was taken by OGA officials

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