The last race, 4 November 2018
An early start at 1000 did not deter 11 boats from turning out – the largest number for any race in 14 years. It was an overcast morning with a fitful SE wind of F3 coming straight up the river adding to a moderate tide. Rob Collingwood and David Jones put the downstream buoy just above the grid and the upstream one well clear of Kew Bridge.
The Enterprises, tacking down against the tide, trying to make the best of the slower inshore waters, reached the downstream buoy first and the Browns, taking advantage of a slight wind shift, tried an oblique attack on it from upstream. The gamble failed, the wind dropped and the tide pushed them onto the buoy and forced a penalty re-rounding. James, crewed by grandson Ayanda, took the more cautious approach tacking downstream of the mark and established a lead which he maintained and increased throughout the race. At the end of the first lap James led the Browns by about 2 minutes followed by Andy and Enoch with Lev close on their transom. At the second lap James’ lead over the Browns was nearer 5 minutes and Rob Adams was less than half a minute behind. By the third lap Rob was 10 seconds ahead of the Browns with Lev in fourth place, and it was on the third lap that Chris Greenwood, on his second race in a Solo, capsized and took some time to get sailing again – wet and cold. That was the only drama of the morning, apart from the disappointment of Jane who had to be rescued by the safety boat from the perils of Kew Bridge.
Rob maintained his narrow lead over the Browns for the next two laps and there were some interesting inshore tacking battles on the downstream legs. By the fifth lap of the leading ‘also rans’, James and Ayanda had worked their way through the fleet to lap everyone. A lap later the Browns had regained their narrow margin over Rob which they maintained to the end, and Lev, also on seven laps, finished fourth.
So James was the decisive winner with 8 laps, followed by the Browns, Rob and Lev on 7 laps, Ian and Andy on 6 laps, Chris and Alex on 5 laps, Tim on 3 laps, Sam Shemtob (late starter) on 1 lap and Jane a reluctant non-starter.
Meanwhile, Mary Short was at work on the barbeque and a sumptuous feast was being prepared. Founder member Marthe Armitage was present as well as Margaret Berger with a delicious chocolate cake.
Many thanks to Enoch for an immaculate record of a very crowded finishing line (he suggests that next time sailors should space themselves out more evenly), and to Rob Collingwood and David Jones for standing by in the safety boat.