Maldon Barge Race 2000

Saturday 10th June 2000 saw us enter our Thames Bawley, Jacqueline in our first Smack and Bawley race as part of the annual Maldon Barge Race.
On the start line, a combination of being 30 seconds too early and the wind dropping, found us drifting over the line before the gun. As we attempted to sort ourselves out, the rest of the fleet were away, and so a decision was made to abort the start as the object was to see how we fared against other craft of similar size.
It became quickly apparent that overall, wewere no match for the faster oyster smacks with their deep hulls and superior windward performance, but the light airs favored us and we gradually started to reel in the fleet. By the turn point we had overhauled all but three of the barges, a couple of smacks and the only other bawley in the race. We made good progress against another smack until the wind dropped completely and we were becalmed off Stone Point for about twenty minutes or so.
It was the calm before the storm so to speak, for the water began to churn in the distance as the wind picked up and a distinct line between calm and rough marched up the Blackwater from the west.

We were off, over canvassed with the gunwales dipping under the water as we fought against the weather helm.

We tacked towards the finish line, but unfortunately the stronger wind favored the smack and we couldn't catch her. She increased her lead over the final couple of miles to beat us to the finish line but we crossed to the sound of the gun so we assume we were the first bawley home.

To round off the race and finish in style, as we crossed the line a squall heeled us over to such an extent that a quarter of the deck was submerged to leeward which raised an almighty cheer from behind the sails from the crew of a smack lying nearby at anchor.

It was only by quickly easing the main that we regained steerage and avoided the embarrassing probability of T-boning the side of a nearby barge.

All in all a great day with great weather, and a bit of everything for our first time out.