Wham, bang – the bucket goes AWOL in 24-hour race!

Posted on September 9, 2018 7:10 pm

Wham, bang – the bucket goes AWOL in 24-hour race!

‘Dive! Dive! Dive!’

If you too were brought up with ‘Voyage to the bottom of the sea’ and the submarine ‘Seaview’, you will remember the accompanying image of bow waves joining across the sub’s foredeck as she powered into the deep to save the world again.

When the same image greets you across the deck of an Enterprise dinghy, it’s a lot less entertaining. Especially the third time.

Imogen and I were into the last stint of the Southport 24 hr dinghy race when disaster finally struck. The builders bucket, vital if we were to have any hope of raising the hull out of the waves, was washed away, and any hope of finishing the race in the wild conditions went with it.

We had just dragged the boat out to replace a rudder pintel (hinge) following a previous crew’s capsize and were struggling with the downhaul when she went over for the first time.

An Ent’ holds enough water to have sorted this summer’s drought, and when furiously bailing, (which is incredible vascular exercise), a big gust on the main shoved her nose under the water.

It was after the third crash dive we lost the bucket and chucked in the towel.

Anthony had mustered a team of twenty, aged from 10 to 100 (or nearly), to attend the race, now in it’s 52nd year.

It is a race of classic dinghies from the 60’s – GP14, Firefly, Lark as well as the Ent’ – and teams compete to get the boat round a 2km course as many times as possible in 24 hours.

Entries, (78 boats this year), range from hard core racers, through University and sailing clubs, to those of us who#s main goal was to finish.

Most of the race was held in either calm or moderate conditions, but as morning arrived, so did the gales.

We didn’t finish.

But we did get into the 22nd hour in big winds in a 40yr old boat, long after many others had retired, and had an inordinate amount of fun along the way.

Bearing in mind that only one of us had ever sailed the boat, the boat was unserviceable until last Thursday, and more than half the helms had never even driven an Ent’, that is a hell of a result. That we all had such a good time was equal to any podium place.

I didn’t do the 3am or 5am shifts. I did get a 07.00 text ‘the boat needs repair – get down here’ whilst enjoying a lie in after a 1am finish, so I was nearly as privileged as those heroes.

My abiding memories will be the spectators good natured roar at every one of the numerous capsizes in the final minutes, and of the students at midnight (slightly inebriated) dancing to ‘Wham’ on the dock, while their boat sailed past sporting tinsel, fairy lights and a mast-top Christmas tree.


The event should be on every sailors bucket list. But bring a spare bucket!