Southend-on-Sea Sailing Barge Match

52nd Southend Barge Match took place on Sunday August 30th 2015.

Light hearted review by Officer of the Day - Dick Durham, presented at the prizegiving

Union Jacks have always made me anxious. It’s so easy to fly them upside down. Blue Peters, however, are a cinch: it doesn’t matter which way up you fly them.
Unfortunately it does matter in what sequence you hoist the, and in the Southend Barge Match you hoist them in a way in which we didn’t host them today.
‘Nobody will notice,’ someone said once we were alerted to our mal-etiquette. WRONG.

There are other things which are done differently in the Southend Barge Match. Sails, for instance. You can make as many sail changes as you lie and set whatever sails you want to, as long as they are traditional.

If you set a mizzen shaped like a smock, that’s OK. If your jib topsail splits into a giant cravat that’s OK (with apologies to Jimmy Lawrence), if you set a symmetrical spinnaker with shoulders that would embrace a nuclear sub, and a hoist that would end production at Chatham Dockyard’s rope walk, its’ certainly traditional, but only on a J class yacht. I say that only as a Reminder.

The outer mark went walkabout again this year, but fortunately before the start of the race rather than during it. ‘We threw it over the side before we’d made the anchor fast,’ said a committee launchman cheerfully.

At the start of the river staysail class I admired the way Melissa was sailed off two miles downriver in order to build up speed to cross the line. It was instructive too, to see the way Niagara used a devilishly clever technique of parting her foresail sheet in order to slow down.

Cambrias’ start was also a masterpiece of working sail and certainly the only time I’ve seen a barge drudging without using her anchor. It paid off and Marjorie’s pristine starboard side remained original.

Meanwhile a pair of young lovers, necking on the Pier’s lower deck, jumped out of their skins, when a voice bellowed: “COME ON GET IT IN’ as Adieu crossed the line.

Operating as we were from the RNLI’s nerve centre on the top deck, we were party to all emergencies. Luckily there was only one. Unfortunately a woman aged 100 took a fall on the pavilion stairs. We watched in admiration as the lifeboatmen swung into action to get the casualty ashore in an ambulance. However, the question was asked: “Why two buggies?’ ‘She has a partner came the reply’ - Which is a good advert for Southend’s bracing climate as any I’ve heard.

Seriously though, thanks for the show, it was brilliant!

David Renouf
Southend Barge Match Committee Chairman

Please note we will be looking forsuitable photographs to be used for our publicity next year - for which we will credit the photographer.
If you have a photo we could consider. please contact


Many thanks to everyone for their contributions to this exciting event.
Thanks to Christopher Tourle for photographs

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