After a week of blustery winds Sunday promised to be somewhat quieter. The flotillas from London Corinthians Sailing Club and, more distant, South Bank Sailing Club started assembling around the Railway Bridge just before mid-day, and continued to arrive up to the race start time. The foreshore was chaotic with the 24 boats that eventually started the race landing and launching – 9 from SGSC, 8 from SBSC and 7 from LCSC. A triangular A-course was set using the rowing buoy as the Surrey bank mark and with the downstream buoy below the slip-dock. The wind recorded at Kew Gardens was W or WSW through the afternoon at F3 but on the river, as usual, it was all over the place. The very crowded start line at the Bell and Crown got away with a tail wind but against the tide after a delay to wait for stragglers. Two Lasers struggled to disentangle themselves from the tree outside the Bell and Crown but eventually re-joined the fleet.
James Armitage showed his familiarity with these waters, amongst other skills, and established an unassailable lead on the first lap. He romped around in 17 minutes leaving a batch of three followers (Alan (LCSC); Sarah (SBSC); Joseph (SGSC) completing in 21 – 22 minutes, and with the rest of the fleet in bunches giving the OODs (Stephen and Henry) a recording nightmare thereafter. By the second lap James was 7 minutes clear of his son Joseph, with Val (LCSC); Sarah (LCSC); Tom (SBSC); and Alan (LCSC) breathing down his neck.
The main blockage was approaching the downstream buoy, which was perhaps set a bit far down, and much of the fleet was in a complex weaving, drifting raft at that end of the course for much of the race. The upstream Surrey buoy gave others some grief: Nick (SGSC) and Sam (SGSC) both got caught by the tide on the wrong side of it in a lull of the wind.
James did 10 minute laps for his third and fourth and finished with a (fifth)15 minute lap, by which time he had overtaken everyone at least once. Val, working his way up through the fleet after his tangle with a tree at the start, was just ahead of James as he (Val) completed his 4th and was thus sent around to do a fifth – the only other boat to do so.
According to the hard-pressed OODs five boats made a fourth lap, Sam only managed one (four crew in a Wayfarer), Tim made two in his Gull and the rest did three laps. The OODs apologise unreservedly for any laps they failed to record – there must be some they missed.
The result, given that reservation, was a clear win for James (Ent, SGSC) and a clear second place for Val (Laser, LCSC). The third place was very closely contested on corrected time by Sarah (Solo, SBSC), Alan and Steph (Ent, SBSC) and Joseph (Laser, SGSC) in that order – a good spread of clubs and boats. Two team prizes are awarded for this event, both based on the aggregate positions of the first six boats in each club. The SGSC/LCSC Challenge Trophy went by the slimmest of margins to SGSC, and the SGSC/SBSC Challenge Trophy went by a slightly wider margin, also to SGSC. It’s obviously an advantage to be on home waters.
And afterwards there was a sumptuous tea including barbequed sausages and burgers with all the trimmings. Many thanks to Mary S and Mary B and an army of helpers and providers.
Please note that, in place of the Gins weekend, there will be an A-course points race on 27 August starting at 17:40.
Click the link below to see the Results Sheet