Where to set sail this summer
Simon ParkinThere 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.Simon Parkin
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.
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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.
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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.
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 land-lubbers 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.
WHERE TO SEE SAILING
t June 19-20 - Reedham Open Regatta
Organised by the Yare Sailing Club, racing takes place at Reedham Ferry. For competitors, briefing is no earlier than 1pm on Saturday. If you just want to watch, there's the usual BBQ at the Reedham Ferry Inn.
t July 26-30 - 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 July 29.
t July 31-August 1 - 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, the best way to follow the action is by hiring a day-boat.
t July 27-August 8 - 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. There's a series of evening social events throughout the week.
t August 30 - 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.
GET OUT ON THE WATER
t Norfolk Broads School of Sailing
Upton Yacht Station, 01692 582864, www.norfolksailingschool.co.uk
Provides a wide range of both RYA approved and other residential sailing courses, including many aimed at beginners and basic skills.
t Norfolk Broads Yacht Club
Wroxham, 01603 782808, www.nbyc.co.uk
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.
t Norfolk Heritage Fleet
Ludham, 01692 678263, www.huntersyard.co.uk
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.
t Whitlingham Outdoor Centre
Whitlingham Broads, Trowse, 01603 632307, www.whitlinghamoec.co.uk
Sailing close to the city. They offer several RYA courses including the Youth and National schemes. Also Try It sailing sessions from �15.