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SMACK AND BARGE RACE 2010



A clear sky earlier in the morning signalled a fine day ahead. This picture shows the collection of sailing vessels and small boats dotted around the start point opposite Bateman’s Tower. They are in no particular order as the start time is an hour and a half away. You will see a virtually cloudless sky as a backdrop to this picture.


On Saturday 4th September the River Colne was once again the venue for, what has become, an annual sailing event known as the ‘Smack and Barge Race’.

The vessels had been gathering offshore from Batemans Tower on the Colne for about a week before the big day. It has always been a point of interest to see the Thames Barges, cargo workhorses for many years in the past, sailing majestically past sea front homes in Point Clear Bay, to moor in Brightlingsea Reach.
The smaller and faster ‘Fishing Smacks’ were to leave first at 9.30 a.m. with the Barges, which are much larger and slower, leaving at 10 a.m. There is a photograph of EDME from St Osyth Harbour leading the Barges on the way out with other barges Decima, Phoenician, Repertor, Victor, and Reminder taking part. There were also other barges present but not racing, some of them carrying viewing passengers. These were Cabby, Nellie, Hydrogen and Kitty.

The Fishing Smacks, many built from the middle 1800’s fished the East Coast for a hundred years or more until the middle 1900’s when they were superseded, for fishing purposes by more modern and manoeuvrable vessels. Today they are owned and maintained by enthusiastic mariners to a very high standard. The picture above shows the assembled vessels about an hour and a half before the race was due to start. Note the clear and cloudless sky and the lack of wind, but by the time the race started clouds were building and the wind was rising as the pictures below illustrate. At the start of the race there was only a gentle breeze and the sails seemed only just to flutter, but the forecast for later was for winds up to force four.
This annual event should not be missed and many viewers gather at St Osyth Stone point opposite Batemans Tower to have a ‘pole position’ at the start.



Pictured here are the fishing smacks just beginning to sort themselves out ready for the starters gun, fired at 9.25 a.m. five minutes before the off!



The fishing smacks have gone and it’s time for the Thames Barges to position themselves ready for their start, half an hour after the smacks.



A nice shot of the ‘Big boys’ off for their race. The background in all these photographs is Mersea Island.

Thames Sailing Barges on their way out of the Colne Estuary.

The Fishing Smack Race was revived in 1971 and one year later the Barges began to take part, with both now a regular feature of the event.



The fishing smacks are under way and well ahead of the barges. You can see that the sky has clouded over in all these shots taken after nine o’clock.



The Thames Sailing Barge ‘EDME’, is special to St Osyth residents as the one barge name they know, because it is operated by our harbour owners Andy and Jane Harman.

M.J.T.
19/9/10
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