Sep 13

Bernard Driver Race

Race Officers & SB1: John Parke and David Joo

Safety Boat 2: Miguel and Rita Ferreira

The Bernard Driver is our second oldest trophy race, it used to be held at the beginning of our winter series early in October to lead members back onto the water as the cold weather set in. It was inaugurated by Bernard Driver (Joe’s father) when he was Commodore and traditionally the course is set by the Commodore who tries to make it more interesting than usual. However on Sept 6 that was not to be.

Windguru and the Met Office had been forecasting winds of 13-14 with gusts of up to 25 and that was not to be either, there was a light wind and the was right on the nose so that we considered postponing the start until the tide had slackened. We could not decide on the best side of the river and so laid four buys with the choice of coming down either bank and agreed helms what helms could do and how they would be scored if they could not make the start line in time. A lady from the Tideway Scullers had told us that there was to be a race with some 30 sculls on our water in 20 minutes time and would we agree to suspend the normal right of way rule on the river for them. Expecting 30 boats flat out in the next 15-20 mins we postponed our start and waited for them and waited. Keen eyes just made out two spidery shapes rounding the Crabtree bend then nothing, then one more then another two so we got fed up and launched. All 6 boats! A miserable turnout!

As expected it was difficult to make against the tide but Miguel and Rita made such a good job of towing that all 6 boats were above the line when the start bell sounded. But it wasn’t the start bell it was the one minute bell but a minute late. Everyone but Allan started, he (and Stephanie of course) waited a further minute for the proper start bell and then caught up the rest of the fleet in about five minutes!
The fleet all turned to come down the Barns bank– and stalled in the fast tide.

Then the wind freshened a little and backed a little eastward so that helms could lay the Putney mark and there was very little tacking. Allan pulled ahead (again) but closely followed by a new young man Stefan, and Sara (whose age is remarkable but a secret). The Putney mark had been laid too near the red can race mark, and it was difficult for two boats to get between them, and this caused problems but only Sara felt that she had to do a 360 after touching it. Apart from this the race was uneventful.

At the finish the order was unchanged from lap 1: 1st Stephanie with Allan, in the same boat, but behind, 2nd Sara, 3rd Stefan.

John Parke