Race Report, 29 October 2017
With the switch to GMT we knew that a late afternoon D-course would be a race against the gathering dusk and a gamble with the wind and tide. But the omens were good: a bright mostly sunny day and a north wind of, officially, the top of F3, and a neapish tide.
Three boats were prepared to risk the trip to Hammersmith and back – Lev Kolobov and Tim Young in Gulls and Nick Floyer in his Lightning. The start time coincided with the predicted low water at Chiswick Mall based on our experience that the flood tide takes at least an hour to kick in after the official low water, and that it takes at least 45 minutes to sail from Strand down to the turning point at Corinthians.
Nick had a good start and led the way on the run down to Chiswick Bridge, followed closely by Lev. The curve in the river around Duke’s Meadows then sheltered them from the wind and progress was little faster than the tide until they emerged through Barnes Bridge. They then had a brisk beat in close tacking towards Corney Reach with Tim following at an increasing distance in the rear.
By the time Nick and Lev reached the lifeboat station the ebb was almost slack and although they were storming along at great speed the safety boat (manned by Henry, Alex and David Jones) made the decision to shorten the course so that they could get back to Strand by sunset. So a buoy was dropped short of Chiswick Eyot and the sailors were instructed to round it. Lev was in the lead at that point and gybed around the mark to set off back on the run. Nick was not so lucky. He was caught by a gust as he gybed and capsized. By the time he had disentangled the mainsheet, swum round to the centre board, heaved the boat upright, struggled aboard, regained control and gingerly turned downwind, Lev was a dot on the horizon and Tim had rounded the buoy and was on his way home. The Lightning is a well-mannered boat and comes up with hardly any water aboard, but that still left a wet and cold Nick facing a long sail back. He soon overtook Tim on the run up to Barnes Bridge and caught up with Lev in the doldrums around Duke’s Meadow. Once through Chiswick Bridge, as the sun set, he and Lev resumed a tacking battle back to the Railway Bridge, which Nick won by a minute. Tim followed seven minutes later while there was still enough daylight to heave the boats up to the arch and recover the safety boat.
After the sums, the handicap points were won by Tim, and the Class and Polly points went to Lev.
Mary, as well as being OOD, provided nourishing flapjack to go with the steaming tea; much appreciated by all.
Next week is the Last Race at 13:30 followed by Beer and Bangers. All are welcome.