IDYLLIC sailing conditions greeted the racers for the start of the annual Nore Race on Saturday.

But forecast light winds meant that the actual event entry was slightly smaller than in previous years – and a date clash with the Round the Island race off Cowes did not help either.

But for local skippers the day proved to be a case of searching for the most breeze and trying hard to make sure that the effect of the tidal stream was adventageous wherever possible.

The conditions at the race, off Southend pierhead, started out lightly but gradually built to a force three with occasional gusts of force four, meant that craft of varying sizes did well in the contest which saw the Group One multihulls won by Thorpe Bay’s Simon Boygle in his fast Hurricane 5.9 craft called Fat Cat.

Group Two saw the Estuary One Design boat Berceuse – skippered by Peter Scott of the Essex YC – win on handicap.

And with Group Three going to Robert Keillor’s Westerley GK29 called Paka’s (from Thurrock YC) and Group Four (Multihull cruising Yachts) won by Rick Bakewell’s Benfleet-based Telstar Trimaran called Weird Fish the spread of yachts and crew sizes was considerable.

On top of this the Interclub Cruiser challenge event went to R. Scrivens’ Rollercoaster (Oddysey 40) from Benfleet YC.

One of the event organisers, Phil Bostock from Benfleet YC said he was delighted with way the race went.

“Everyone finished which was great.

“The last boat crept in just three minutes before the expiry time was up.

“We had 84 boats this time around which was a little down on previous years, but I think that some of the skippers of the multihulls looked at the forecast and decided that they would struggle to get around the course in time.

“But in the end there was slightly more wind than had been expected and everyone had a good race.

“The first boat was home in a few minutes under three and a half hours and we had no incidents or problems because the weather was so good,” he added.

Benfleet Yacht Club’s sailing secretary Adam Smith was aboard Chris Cox’s 40ft yacht “Destiny” as she struggled to get past the array of smaller and much lighter dinghies.

“The start was tricky because we were running (sailing dead downwind) and the tide was trying to push crews over the line.

“We did the big ‘A’ course but in the Town Cup we struggled and were third behind Rollercoaster which was sailed very well.”