See sailing on and off the water this summer

There is surely no finer sight on the Broads than sailing boats in full flow. SIMON PARKIN looks at where you can catch the action this summer and how and where to take the tiller yourself.

Zigzagging to and fro, often with only their bright white sails visible in the flat lush-green landscape, fleets of sailing boasts are one of the most summery sights on the Norfolk Broads.

The ancient waterways draw enthusiasts in their thousands — from the weekend hobbyists to serious competitive crews — and are home to several sailing club regattas.

This weekend sees one of the biggest events on the calendar when well over 100 boats, large and small take part in the annual Three Rivers Race.

Taking place over a 24-hour period, the race is a handicap event with entries ranging from dinghies, half-deckers, traditional Broads sailing cruisers to modern yachts.

Competitors paddle under bridges, tacked up narrow rivers and contended with hire cruisers coming in the opposite direction to complete the event.

The race, organised by Horning Sailing Club, also draws the crowds to watch the action, with the famously low and narrow Potter Heigham bridge, where crews jostle for position to pass through, a favourite viewing spot.

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The race heralds the start of a busy summer programme of Broads sailing regattas that, whether you're a sailor or not, offer a fantastic spectacle.

Later this month is the Reedham Open Regatta, which takes place at Reedham Ferry and which offers landlubbers the opportunity to get close to the waterborne action.

July and August both offers packed programmes with the week-long regattas at Horning and Wroxham and the Bank Holiday gathering at Barton Broad.

Though you'll always get the best views from on the water, it's possible to take in the sights, if not quite follow the intricacies of the race action, from the bank.

With a bit of luck the weather will hold and you'll be able to enjoy the traditional riverside picnic, and who knows you may be inspired to take up sailing yourself.

n The latest issue of Anglia Afloat, the only boating magazine for Norfolk, is one sale now, priced �3.95.


June 18-19 — Reedham Open Regatta

Organised by the Yare Sailing Club, racing takes place at Reedham Ferry and includes the Harriet of Reedham Trophy on the Saturday and the Serenity Trophy, Silver Trophy and Reedham Open Trophy on the Sunday. If you just want to watch, a good spot is Reedham Ferry Inn.

July 25-29 — Wroxham Week

A week-long series of competitive sailing organised by the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club includes more than 40 races in numerous different sailing classes competing for dozens of trophies. The Open Regatta Day is Thursday, July 28.

July 30-31— Hickling Broad Open Regatta

Organised by Hickling Broad Sailing Club, this summer's regatta includes all-comer races, a youth cup and classes for Laser, Solo and Norfolk Punt. You get a limited view from the shore or the pub beer garden, but the best way to follow the action is by hiring a day-boat.

August 1-5 — Horning Week

Organised by Horning Sailing Club, a week-long series of races that make a fine spectacle and one that's relatively easy to watch if not follow from the bank, though following the action from the water if possible is even better.

August 29 — Barton Broad Open Regatta

Going since at least 1914, this August Bank Holiday regatta, which follows two days of the Norfolk Punt Club Open Regatta, is long established date on the Broads calendar. Not easy to follow from the bank, many people prefer to moor on the Broad for the weekend. The mass of moored boats and the exciting racing makes for a magnificent spectacle.

September 24 — Yare Navigation Race

Popular 30-mile+ race for Broads river sailing cruisers that starts at Coldham Hall and goes to Breydon Water and back. There are several vantage points to watch, including Buckenham Ferry, Cantley, Reedham and the Beney Arms at the head of Breydon Water. Whichever you choose, you are always next to a pub, which is handy.


Norfolk Broads School of Sailing

Upton Yacht Station, 01692 582864,

Provides a wide range of both RYA approved and other residential sailing courses, including many aimed at beginners and basic skills.

Norfolk Broads Yacht Club

Wroxham, 01603 782808,

Has been teaching sailing on Wroxham Broad for over 30-years. They offer RYA approved tuition, though demand means courses are often limited to club members.

Norfolk Heritage Fleet

Ludham, 01692 678263,

Home to the Hunter Fleet, beautifully maintained traditional wooden Broads yachts. Have a go or just be sailed for two-hours with a skipper for �45.

Whitlingham Outdoor Centre

Whitlingham Broads, Trowse, 01603 632307,

Sailing close to the city. They offer several RYA courses including the Youth and National schemes. Also Try It sailing sessions from �15 for one and a half hours.