It was perfect weather for a race: sunny on the whole and a F3 westerly wind, which couldn’t help but be gusty in the strange conditions of Strand. And perhaps because of the COVID restrictions we had a good turnout of 8 boats on a long A-course – top mark opposite the Steam Packet (yes, it’s a pub again!), bottom mark opposite the City Barge.
As usual James Armitage showed the way around the course (solo in his Ent) and established a lead before the bottom mark by keeping well into the lesser tidal flow by the Strand bank. It was a run with minor variations all the way down. James was goose-winged with his jib-stick most of the time. The return leg was a beat to windward and although several boats tried a long tack across to the Surrey bank, shorter tacks between the PLA moorings and Strand proved the best route. The gusty wind meant that the fleet made steady progress against the tide most of the time on the downstream legs with some exhilarating beating on the upstream bits.
The Browns (Enterprise) followed James at increasing distances throughout the race – a minute at the first lap increasing to 11 minutes by the 9th after a doldrum-patch just below the slip-dock on the last lap. Alex Pape (Lugger) was in third place for most of the time followed by Nick Floyer (Lightning) who capsized in a gust at the end of his fifth lap and had to retire (towed home by David Jones). His place was taken by Tim Wellburn (Enterprise, crewed by Wellburn jnr.), Ian Nethersell (Vibe) and Tim Young (Gull) who completed seven laps, and Jane Watkins (Gull) who did six laps.
After the handicap sums the Handicap points were won by Tim Young, followed by the Browns and then Jane; the Big Boats points were won by James, then the Browns, then Tim Wellburn; in the Little Boats the winner was Tim followed by Alex and then Jane; and in the Polly Prize James was the winner followed by Tim Young and then the Browns.
Mary Short kept an immaculate record of the race, aided by Chris Greenwood. Eight boats doing up to 9 laps each takes some keeping up with. Thanks also to David Jones for shepherding the fleet on the water. Apres-race at the arch was masked like the Venice Carnevale but with less extravagant costumes.
Next Sunday’s race is an A-course at 1730, following a working party in the morning.