Medway Sailing Barge Match

by Martin Longhurst

22 May 1999 saw the 91st Medway Barge Sailing Match take place. The course was from Gillingham Marina round the Medway Buoy (way out in the Thames Estuary) and back. The competitors started around 9 a.m. and Kingswear Castle sailed from Strood Pier at 10 a.m. The wind was more or less directly down the Medway which gave the barges an easy ride on the outward leg but meant they had to tack all the way home.

Kingswear Castle cleared Garrison Point at the mouth of the River Medway to see the field spread out across the Estuary.

Captain Megoran was able to manoeuvre the paddler around the fleet passing as closely as possible to as many individual barges as possible.

Here S.B. Greta (1892) passes in full sail.

This is S.B. Xylonite (1926) - the roundel on her sail promotes Friends of the Earth.

S.B. Portlight (1924) which was later delayed by going aground while trying to get the maximum advantage from her tacking.

S.B. Cabby (1928)

KC had a good load for the trip which is always a popular attraction.

S.B. Greta racing for home

S.B. Repertor (1924) wins the Staysail B Class, crossing the finish line between Hoo Ness (left) and Gillingham Pier.

Greta (left) won the Staysail A Class and Xylonite the Bowsprit Class - xylonite was an early type of plastic.
Repertor, now moored to a buoy, proudly flies her winner's pennant.

Kingswear Castle clears Strood Pier while S.B. Thistle (1895) - now under power but earlier racing under sail - makes ready to come alongside.

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