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CELEBRATING SAILING BARGES
Blessed by weather more appropriate to the Mediterranean than the muddy shores of Essex, the fleet for the Colne Smack & Barge Race sailed out of Brightlingsea for another friendly contest and display of living history for local fishing and trading boats. With a turn out of 10 sailing barges and 10 sailing smacks, starting at 7.30am and 8am respectively, they glided across the start line from Bateman’s Tower on the Brightlingsea front and gave spectators a close up view as they hugged the shore on Stone Point on Mersea Island, before heading out on a course turning at Clacton Pier. Steve Heppell’s 1907 Brightlingsea built smack CK348 My Alice was the first of the smacks, and won 1st prize overall, with the St Osyth based EDME leading the barges home.
The race is run by Colne Smack Preservation Society (colnesmack.co.uk) which was set up in 1972 to promote an interest in sailing, and racing, smacks in and around the River Colne, and to preserve what was left of the once large fleet of sailing smacks from the River Colne. From this small beginning, the future of the smacks is now assured, with the fleet that is sailing increasing every year as more smacks are being restored and rebuilt.