We had literally just arrived at Potter Heigham when I noticed crowds of people standing on top of and along both sides of the medieval bridge, watching several boats with people on board rushing to lower the masts and make sure nothing would impede progress under the very low bridge.
I had no idea what on earth was going on but took shots anyway and asked questions later.
Apparently they are competitors in the Three Rivers Race.
Battling against the tide, paddling under bridges and avoiding hire-cruisers, competitors have 24-hours to complete a 50-mile course on the Norfolk Broads in perhaps the most unusual yacht race
The Navigators & General sponsored Three Rivers Race, organised by Horning Sailing Club, took place on the Norfolk Broads over the weekend of 1st & 2nd June, and is unique and taxing event which is probably the most unusual yacht race in the UK.
Taking place over a 24-hour period, the Three Rivers Race is a handicap event with entries ranging from dinghies, half-deckers, traditional Broads yachts and modern production yachts. There are expected to be 135 entrants for this year's event, who will be paddling or punting under bridges, short tacking up narrow rivers and still having to contend with hire cruisers coming in the opposite direction.
The course is about 50 miles in length set around three of the rivers of the Norfolk Broads, the Bure, the Ant and the Thurne, and includes four turning points which may be taken in any order. As the rivers are tidal a great deal of tactical planning is required from skippers and crews to choose the most efficient method of getting round all the turning marks as quickly as possible.
But the tide is not the only hazard. Competitors have to negotiate bridges on both the Bure and the Thurne at which masts must be lowered in order to pass underneath. One of these bridges is the famous Potter Heigham bridge. Racing starts at 12 noon on Saturday and there is a time limit of 24 hours in which to complete the race. The fastest boats are expected to be back in Horning by about 9pm on the Saturday night, given a good breeze, with the slower ones arriving throughout the night and into Sunday morning.
Last year the race was abandoned for the first time in its history due to force 8 winds.
Read more at http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/news/406554/three-rivers-race#Xp5kqVZjlG2oAtJc.99
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