Southend-on-Sea Sailing Barge Match

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

tarting times from 1100 hours

Also, there was a Sailing Barge Exhibition in the Royal Pavilion, Southend Pier 29th - 31st August. 10am - 6pm. Free entry.

Match report.

An overcast day with some rain forecast, a moderate NNE wind all day and a very smooth sea gave some ideal sailing conditions, helped by the rain staying away.

The course set took the barges from the pierhead start, inside the Leigh Low Way Buoy, west to the West Leigh Middle buoy, across the estuary to the West Nore Sand buoy and then back to the Pierhead as the outermark. The barges then did the same circuit a second time in reverse crossing the estuary back to the West Nore Sand, the across to the West Leigh Middle before sailing down to finish at the pierhead line passing inside the Leigh Low Way buoy on the way.

The barges sailed in two classes with the Fast Staysail class starting at 1100 hours and the bowsprits at 1115.

In the fast staysail class the start was closely contested with Reminder crossing the start line after 39 seconds and Niagara just 7 seconds later, having had her foresail sheet part during the process. Lowering the sail momentarily they were able to deal with and have the sail up again and set very quickly. Melissa had a more stately start crossing the line 6 minutes later. Reminder kept ahead of Niagara round the Leigh Low Way buoy and on the reach down to the West Leigh Middle buoy, which the barges had to gybe around. She maintained her lead on the reach across to the West Nore Sand buoy, after which it was a tactical tacking battle back to the pierhead buoy. The barges both made long tacks out towards Leigh, with Niagara turning first, and gaining the advantage to round the outer mark first and gain the prize for first barge round the outermark.

In the bowsprit class, Cambria judged her start a little early and turned back, against the tide. Marjorie was well positioned to sail past her with all sails set making the fastest start of the day 27s seconds after the start signal. Adieu crossed the line after 1 min 49s and Cambria returned to cross the line nearly 4 minutes after the start. Again in this class they maintained their starting order round to the West Nore Sand buoy, from where the tacking tactics as they re-crossed the estuary to the pierhead buoy, allowing Adieu to take the advantage and make the outer mark 2 mins and 50 seconds ahead of the Marjorie.

At this stage the both Melissa and Cambria had lost ground to other barges in their classes and were trailing by around 30 minutes.

At the outermark the class had caught up so the order round the mark was Niagara (Staysail class), Adieu (bowsprit class), Reminder (Staysail class) and then Marjorie (Bowsprit class) all within 6 minutes of each other.

On the run back across the estuary to the West Nore Sand buoy, we saw different choices of gybe selected by the four leading barges, before they all settled onto the same favourable port gybe to cross the estuary shipping lane before having to make a starboard gybe to round the buoy. The order did not change on the reach back to the West Leigh Middle buoy, after which it was a tack back to the finish via the Leigh Low Way buoy, with the different tacking tactics appearing to spread the barges across the skyline. Only once they got closer to the Leigh Low Way buoy was it possible to see who had made the best of the conditions, as the tide had turned.
Niagara was a made a magnificent sight passing close into the end of the pier to cross the finish line after 3 hours 32 mins 52 seconds to win the Staysail class to cheers from the crowd watching from the pier. Adieu finished around 2 minutes later to win the Bowsprit class with Reminder and Marjorie following in that order behind her, again at approximately 2 minute intervals keeping the pier photographers busy for a while as they passed close to the pierhead.
Melissa and Cambria completed the classed coming home around 45 minutes after the rest of the fleet taking just over 4 hours to complete the course.

The Mayor Councillor Andrew Moring and Mrs Louise Moring came to start the race, and presented the prizes later at the Naval and Military Club.

David Renouf
Southend Barge Match Committee Chairman

Please note we will be looking for suitable 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 the photographs

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