Dec 28

Campbell Race 14 – Downriver

– Race Officer and Safety Boat1: Sara Bennett and Fergal Macnamara

– Safety Boat 2: Giles Harrison and Jane Stanton-Humphreys

Despite the entreaties of the Vice Commodore for people to come down in their hoards to sail, we eventually counted only 4 boats, but it was going to be the big finale to the Campbell Series, and the even bigger head to head between Renato and Allan with Steph who were on equal points – it could have gone either way. So desperate had things become that Renato sent out an email in the early morning to myself as RO, and Allan and Steph, that there was clearly insufficient wind to race, and as it was a sunny day we should have a final leaf clear up of the year, as round his Laser there was a whole treeful. And he also signed his email as Renato Campbell, so was obviously feeling very confident about the ultimate end result of the final race of the Campbell series!!!! Sally and Henry decided to take them on and try and spoil their fun, and in fact Sally nearly managed it on the return leg. More of that later…

Not to be deterred, the Race Officer and her team (incidentally potentially more safety boat people than sailors!!) got ready, did the briefing, and before we knew it with only four boats to launch, the bells were sounded, and the four boats set off downriver, in virtually no wind at all. Allan and Steph made good ground, with Renato in hot pursuit. This was Henry’s first outing on a laser, so he was feeling his feet a bit on the down leg, and ahead of him Sally was having her own problems with grounding and this slowed her down for a while.

The other side of Battersea Railway Bridge saw Renato overtaking Steph and Allan and although they caught up with him, after his gaining good ground on them, by the time we had placed the buoy Renato had got 40 seconds over them. By this time the tide had slackened significantly and Sally came over the line 10 minutes after Allan, and Henry another 8 minutes after that. The laying of the buoy proved to be rather a stressful affair, as Fergal and the RO discovered that there was no anchor on the buoy we had for the task, so we shouted over to the Ranelagh safety boat ( who had their buoy laid just where we were going to put ours) to ask if we could use their buoy and we would return it later. There was then a mad rush to pull it up and put it out into the river more before Renato came hurtling to the finish…..phew just in time!

The RO then called the Commodore who seemed content sitting in the sun on the north bank whilst Sally and Steph nattered on the shore. The second race was about to start, and they needed to galvanise themselves and get back onto the water.

With the tide starting to slowly come back in, conditions were perfect for the return leg, and like a bullet, Sally set off with the other three boats trying desperately to catch her. Henry was in hot pursuit of the other three boats, and was in the mix for most of the way back. But nobody was going to catch Sally and this remained the case until Putney bridge when the wind died to virtually nothing. Fergal and I had dashed back to the club and I was up in the Race Box waiting for our four boats to appear for what seemed like an eternity. At last I saw what I thought may have been Renato and Allan and Steph, hugging the Putney bank, with not an inch between them, but no, it was Sally and the Enterprise doing battle. Who was going to make the line first? I was willing Sally to do it, but where was Renato? He was nowhere to be seen at that point. But as luck would have it for Allan and Steph, they got a small gust which pushed them over the line 2 seconds ahead of Sally. Renato had fallen foul of the lack of wind and he arrived four minutes later. Henry was 4th, and a good return leg for him.

So the die was cast, the race was done and Allan and Steph had landed the Campbell Trophy. Well done to them both, and next series, the Goodwin Cup, who knows who might win that one at the end of April. We need to somehow ensure it isn’t Renato or Allan that’s for sure!!

Full results are now on the website. Many thanks to all the safety boat crews for coming out to do their duty so soon after Christmas, and especially to Jane S-H who came all the way from Singapore to do it…..!!

A very Happy New Year to everybody and see you in 2015!

Sara Bennett – Vice Commodore