Race Officers: John Parke and Emma Koe
Safety Boat: Peter Mack and Dom Polizic
Even after a prompt briefing helms dallied about so that at the 5min bell 2/3 of them were still on the bank and of course a rowing centre pair chose that moment to go through their fiddling launch across the ramp. We could not see this behind the sails lined up in front of the office and when the 5min bell was rung Stephanie led a protest revolt, which seemed to the elderly and infirm RO to threaten defenestration, pointing out that the ramp was blocked. So a 10min postponement was grudgingly granted.
With a SEer blowing straight up the river, right on the nose against the tide, it was always going to be a difficult day so a simple course had been set up and down the Fulham bank.
Sure enough many helms struggled to reach the start line. Even Sara, who crossed the line at speed on the windward bank was carried back when the wind dropped and like many of the lasers had to paddle frantically to gain the start line. But with 4-5 boats still short of the line we did start and those who were still stuck were allowed to turn and join in.
The fleet piled up at the Hammersmith mark but the wind freshened and the boats began to work their way down the bank, led by surprise-surprise, Renato with Allan 2-3 lengths behind. And this continued for the rest of the race with Allan slipping past now and again then dropping back again, these two tacked down the bank and rounded the marks, lapping half the fleet as if there was no problem.
Tara, Sara and Hugh with Ana gradually pulled clear of the rest though Hugh had a bad moment, somehow sitting in the water when he should have been concentrating on the Putney mark. Fortunately his feet were still under the straps, and he seemed just to sit back up on the gunnel and rounded the mark. Perhaps Ana said “pull yourself together” and admirable stomach muscles did the trick.
Our water is well known for last minute dramas and so it proved. Allan was just ahead as he and Renato reached the stand but the bend in the river deflected the wind away and they stalled. Both tacked out and were promptly swept upstream.
About 1/3 of the way across Allan tacked again and managed to stop moving up the river, Renato was moving fast diagonally towards the club house and the line, then the wind picked up and Allan began to move, Renato was nearer the line but had to tack out had and had to tack again to head down river. The RO’s were breathless. Allan gained way and crossed the line a few seconds before Renato. Tara was third about six minutes behind, then Hugh and Sara further behind still.
The rest of the fleet finished one by one with Armand a lone survivor at long last–well if you will carry a steel centreboard.
We finished with an impromptu barbecue and a belated birthday present for Stephanie of a picture of the Cutty Sark in recognition of her short skirts and speed on the water.