It was an overcast day with a distinct autumnal chill in the 5-6 knot WNW breeze: perfect for the planned B-course.

Six boats came up river from South Bank: 3 Enterprises; a Laser; a Xenon, and a Merlin, together with an attendant safety boat. They beached on the slimy foreshore downstream of the railway bridge and made use of our sumptuous facilities, including tea and coffee.

They were matched by nine Strand boats: James Armitage and Lev Kolobov in Enterprises, Rob Adams, Joseph Armitage and Keith Clarke in Lasers; Sam Shemtob’s Wayfarer; Ian Nethersell’s Vibe; Tim Young’s Wanderer and Nick Floyer’s Gull.

The downwind start, against the flood tide, presented the choice of seeking the relatively slack water on either side of the river. 14 boats chose the Middlesex side and only one SBSC Enterprise (Allan Munro-Faure) chose the Surrey side. He was correct and rounded the downstream mark (at Chiswick Staithe) well ahead of the others. After the beat back upstream and rounding the upstream mark (opposite 7 Strand on the Green) he was 30 seconds ahead of Joe Armitage’s Laser with his Dad two seconds behind.

The first lap took around 19 minutes for the leaders. The second lap was faster with practically all the fleet following the Surrey bank and at the end of it Joe led James by 20 seconds with Allan 6 seconds behind. The wind dropped significantly during the second lap, spreading the fleet and catching Nick Floyer on the wrong side of the downstream mark.

It was clear that we’d had the best of the afternoon wind and Mary Brown (OOD) decided to end the race at the third lap as the leaders approached the hour. The finishing order was James, 54 seconds ahead of Joe, 11 seconds ahead of Allan Munro-Faure. Lev was close behind as was the sleek Merlin of SBSC’s A Molyneux.

The Challenge Cup is a team trophy and goes to the Club with the lowest total score when the positions of the first six boats in each club are added up. The result was a convincing win for SGSC .

Afterwards – what a feast. Steve Newells home-brew helped to wash down a wide variety of goodies from barbequed sausages (many thanks to Leona Shepherd), through buns and cakes to a triffle. Many thanks to all concerned, especially our SBSC visitors, for an epic afternoon.