– Race Officers: Digby Koe and Emily Cardno
– Safety Boat: Ray Burnett and Paul Waliker
Last Sunday’s race had a surprisingly good turnout after the end of year supper; 10 boats on the water and not a hangover in site.
It was not a day on the water for the faint hearted. Even as I bicycled to the river I wondered at who would be mad enough to sail in such freezing weather, with the wind whip cracking gusts across a sky as grey as a Siberian winter.
I started on safety boat duty and was comforting myself that notwithstanding that I would probably freeze my toes off, I’d be able to listen to Ray’s stories of zombie butlers and other tales of acting, theatrics and ex wives. However, given the choice of doing race officer duties inside with the lovely Emily, I took it.
The Met office told us that the wind was from the North, a steady 20 miles per hour, gusting 40. That seemed accurate much of the time, with an occasional lull. As we hurried to start the race, there were 6 boats on the water, with Steph, Renato and Tara in Lasers, Gary and Joseph in the GP14, Alan & Henry and Hugh & Ana in Enterprises.
We rang the bell and Allan timed a perfect start. I expected normal service to resume, but as the boats went up the river on a difficult beat, it quickly became apparent that everyone was having difficulty staying up right. Near the top mark, Allan and Henry came to grief. Gary and Joseph were fighting bravely but at the end of the first lap Renato and Tara turned first, with Steph following after a bad start and Hugh and Ana leading the two handers.
To be honest, it looked mighty tricky and probably felt much worse on the water. It seemed as though everyone took a dunking on lap two, with the Lasers profiting from their ability to right quicker. In the front it was very close, with Tara sailing beautifully to stay close to Renato. At the end of a very quick run to the bottom mark all were a little more cautious this time, turning in wide loops.
Could Tara stay with Renato? Could anyone stay upright? It wasn’t easy to say. Hugh and Ana then limped home, joining Allan and Henry back at the club to warm up and swop stories. Hugh reported an unfortunate capsize, his having lost the controls and then the boat itself, leaving it to heel over with his brave crew facing her fate alone.
At the next turn, Tara was still close to Renato, but after both she and Renato exchanged a pair of capsizes in quick succession, Renato began to pull away. Steph was never far behind, trimming the lead as she sailed with an arrowing purposefulness.
Once seven laps were completed, Renato emerged victorious, with Tara a close second and Steph third. Gary and Joseph, who had battled superbly, finished a brave fourth. It was a very impressive performance by all in such conditions. What a steely bunch. Well done too to Ray and Paul in the safety boat, who had been kept busy and done a very good job.