Race Report by Steve Newell OOD
On a cool autumn day with only a light NW breeze, seven dinghies optimistically came to the start line outside no 1 Strand-on-the-Green and set off towards Chiswick Bridge. The rescue boat with David Jones in command placed a buoy half way down Hartington Road on the Middlesex bank in the hope that a three lap race would be possible. Unbelievably, a PLA patrol boat requested that the buoy should be moved mid race as other “shipping” was being inconvenienced but David assured the PLA that such an action would be unfair at such a late stage. One rowing eight trying to return to the London University boat house attempted to break up our fleet with a manoeuvre reminiscent of Admiral Nelson at the Battle of the Nile but our sailors kept defiantly focused on reaching buoy once more. The final obstacle observed, after about half an hour, was a gaggle of kayakers accompanied by a Canadian canoe propelled with a single paddle which seemed to be in charge. They almost drove John Bull (laser), who by this stage had opened up a useful lead onto the buoy placed opposite 4/5 Strand-on-the-Green but any embarrassment was skilfully avoided – or maybe the 270 degree turn executed was simply to avoid an involuntary jibe. I realised that our leading boat was not flying a racing flag so a letter of complaint to the canoe club is probably not appropriate although I might have a word nevertheless.
As the minutes ticked by the sun appeared to shine a little stronger, the breeze freshened a little to provide a bit of exhilaration and our sailors were still racing keenly. On the river (before the application of the handicapping factors) the laser’s lead was cut although never seriously threatened but the fortunes of the commodore in his ‘shanghai’ rigged craft improved dramatically. He “gently touched” the second mark after being caught in a very congested melee and to set a good example performed a second rounding which left him in last place. He then purposefully gave chase and as conditions improved over the next few minutes fought his way through the fleet to be second over the finish line at the end of the third and final lap.
It was remarkable that after an hour of racing the whole fleet crossed the finish line in a span of just seven minutes. I was assisted with the time keeping by Horatio. When racing is close it helps enormously to have another pair of eyes on the action.