It was a lovely day for a C-course with a F4 (gusting F5) WSW wind and two people in the safety boat (Tim Young and Dave Baker). A good day for Dave to learn our under-the-bridge procedure.

All went smoothly under the bridge with Ben Chappell’s Laser (Envy) and Rob Adams’ Enterprise (Big Polly), under Tim’s supervision and clear instruction, and David’s perfect execution.  Nick went under the bridge by himself, lowering his Gull’s gunter rig, but was unfortunately caught with a gust and blown to the side of the bridge just before exiting. His boat capsized. The safety boat (with Lev now aboard crossing the river to his OOD position) rushed to help. The flood tide took Nick and flo out from under the bridge and he managed to right flo with some help from the SB which then towed him to the Surrey side, leaving him moored by residential barges where he bailed out with help and emotional support from a resident.

Lev was moved to his position on the pontoon waiting for a signal from Tim confirming Nicks readiness.

Exactly 6 minutes before 10:00 signal was sent and the countdown to the race started. As planned race started 10:00 on the dot.

Big Polly (with Felicia Biekark as crew) and then Envy crossed line beating into the wind. It took Nick about 1:45 min to cross the starting line, also with great speed beating to windward. They maintained that order throughout the race: Rob; Ben; then Nick. 

The SB stayed in the middle, mesmerised by Ben’s skilful dodging between rowing boats with both expert and very novice crews. Towards end of the beating leg the SB had to apply full throttle to beat Rob and to drop the mark. The mark was dropped seconds before Rob got to it.

Rob rounded the mark after 25 min. Ben was 4-8 minutes behind. The tide was just about to turn but the wind propelled Rob very fast downstream with the SB having a hard time getting there first to drop the OOD. Once the OOD was dropped to record Rob’s time, the SB went back to pick up the mark and watch Nick run back.

Rob was first, following Ben who manage maintain 6 min gap although having a dry capsize manoeuvre right before final turn to the finishing line. As the tide was ebbing fast, Ben sailed under the bridge tipping his boat slowly while Rob waited to get help from the SB which was following Nick flying in with wind and tide.

Thank you for Tim and Dave for outstanding safety boat duty. Tim’s ability to spot birds (especially) herons should be noted as OOD never saw so many birds on the river.

Lev Kolobov  OOD

Next week we’ve got a working party at 10:30 followed by an A-course at 15:00.