OOD: Nick Floyer, Safety Boat: Henry Brown and Nikita Bierkark

Sunday’s race was an experiment.  Faced with a sequence of D-course the Committee decided to try an experimental low-water course, mid-tide, against the seaward flow of the river.  An E-course, E for experimental. There was a piece about it in the Newsletter.  The preference was for an upstream course so that if the wind died the fleet would be swept back to Strand rather than Hammersmith, and that dictated an E, NE or N wind to make progress against the flow.  And on Sunday we had a forecast of a light ENE wind.  And sunshine. And there’s been no rain for ages, so the river was docile.  Perfect. Or, perfect?

Five boats slithered through the slime and launched: James Armitage and Ayanda (Ent.); Lev and David Kolobov (Ent.); Felicia Bierkark and Ariel in Chris’ Leader; Ben Chappell (Laser); and Tim Young (Wanderer).  The first challenge was to make it to the Bell and Crown start line in the very light and very variable wind.  Two tried on the Surrey side of Oliver’s Island and three on the Strand side.

Eventually, after a 13-minute delay to the start, all reached the line and were ready to meet the next challenge: the wind-shadow of Kew Bridge and the passage through the bridge.   All but Ben made it through the bridge.  James led the way, followed by Lev (who struggled with an improvised tiller, without extension) and then Tim.  The patch above the bridge was a mess of little winds from all or no direction.

Nick Floyer had wisely suggested that the safety boat lay a turning buoy just ahead of the leader at about 15:45, which was about halfway along the Brentford Aits.  James rounded and sailed / drifted back to the Bell and Crown with the current in about 5 minutes.  Lev was about 25 minutes behind him, but Tim and Felicia, like Ben had retired before then.

Was the experiment a success?  We proved that Enterprises could do it even in very light winds, but for a satisfactory race we needed a reliable E, NE wind and another point on the Beaufort Scale.

Next week it’s an A-course at 15:40.