It should have been a Gins Weekend according to the draft programme and that is possibly why only two boats decided to race. It was also a Bank Holiday weekend and rather late in the day.
The weather was cloudy but dry with a steady-ish north wind that the Met Office said was 8 mph (bottom of F3) at Kew Gardens. After some discussion we decided on a long A-course but starting at Zoffany House. The top mark was set at the Bell and Crown, well downstream of the Kew Bridge wind-shadow, with the bottom mark at the City Barge, and with a down-wind, against-the-tide start.
James Armitage (crewed by Emanuela) in the newest Enterprise afloat and Tim Wellburn (crewed by Emma) in the oldest, both decided to start on the far side of the PLA moorings where the wind was clearer than on the Strand side. It was a run down to the bottom mark, with the usual diversions for capricious wind shifts, and a beat or a fine reach back, usually also on the far side of the PLA moorings, to make the turn at the top mark. James led Tim by less than a minute at the first lap, even after Tim had taken the gamble of staying on the Strand side after his first Bell and Crown turn. It almost looked as if the gamble would pay off, but he was caught by a mini doldrum at the downstream end of the moorings. Thereafter both boats did what looked like a risky chicane after the top mark to catch the freer wind in the middle of the river.
James gradually increased his lead as the race progressed as Tim was seen to have problems with a newly-rigged kicker that lost him some headway. James finished seven laps in 4 minutes over the hour and Tim completed 6 laps about 6 minutes later.
At the launch Andy Ross tentatively introduced Comma to the water after a two-year repair job and declared her watertight. At well over 50 years old she is the oldest Enterprise in the Club (sail number 12,130), even older than Tim’s (sail number 19,286). When can we hope to see her sail?
Thanks to Mary Brown for officiating from Zoffany House, and thanks to David for company and heavy-lifting in the safety boat.