SAILORS braved big waves and strong winds to compete in two of Southend’s best know winter handicap races at the weekend.

And somehow, despite big gusts and huge tidal flows both the Leigh Sailing Club’s Brass Monkey and Thorpe Bay Yacht Club’s Frozen Sheets races went ahead on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Twenty-one dinghies turned out for Leigh’s event which is traditional the season finale - before the post holiday return to work. And the weather gods smiled on concerned race organisers at the last minute.

There was a slight respite in the weather which allowed the race to go ahead.

Only 24 hours earlier the foreshore had been battered by 55mph winds which had thrown flotsam and other debris onto the cinder path connecting Westcliff and Leigh.

But by the time of the start the wind had dropped to a manageable 25mph – with a few stronger gusts to keep crews on their toes.

The fleet set off on a broad reach led by a singlehanded Contender dinghy sailed by Chris Boshier from Thorpe Bay YC.

Boshier was at the vanguard of a small group of sailors from other clubs making the trek to Leigh to compete. The short beat sorted out the fleet order as several boats found sailing close-hauled through the choppy waves very difficult.

At the start of the long reach to the gybe mark the order was Chris Boshier, Mike Izatt (in an RS 600) and Seb Baucutt and Holly Hampton in a RS200.

These positions remained unchanged for the rest of the race.

Behind the leaders the main pack of Solo dinghies was initially led by Colin Walker.

But he was passed by John Charles and Rob Tothill before the end of the three rounds.

Overall results: 1st Contender (TBYC) Chris Boshier; 2nd RS 200 (EYC) Seb Baucut; 3rd RS 600 (King George) Mike Izatt; 4th Topaz Uno (LSC) Dave Braun; 5th GP14 (LSC) Steve Corbet; 6th Solo (LSC) John Charles; 7th Solo (LSC) Rob Tothill; 8th Laser Radial (EYC) Andy Middleton; 9th Solo (LSC) Colin Walker; 10th Solo (LSC) Nick Hann; 11th Sandhopper (TBYC) Pete Thompson; 12th Solo (EYC) Cass Monk; 13th RS 200 (LSC) Phil Dowsett; 14th Laser Radial (EYC) Dave Makkinis; 15th Laser Radial (EYC) Alexander Pilgrim; 16th Wayfarer (LSC) Ian Burtonshaw; Equal 17th Solo (LSC) Tony Handfield; Solo (LSC) Matt Tothill; RS 200 (LSC) Harry Wright; Optimist (EYC) Luke Bravnik; Laser (TBYC) Doug Rivers.