Race Officers: Sara Bennett and Elena Balycheva
Safety Boat: Tara Yamashita and Henry Cook
If anyone asked me if I would prefer to be in the Race Box rather than out on the water I would say “you cannot be serious”. But yesterday was different and different in spades..
Having cancelled the downriver race earlier in the week, there didn’t seem to be any sign of decrease in the forecast wind strengths for Sunday and I wondered if anybody would be mad enough to even turn up for the local race around the buoys. Slowly but surely by about 1.45 seven of the club’s very best sailors turned up, as did the rest of the race team. As the wind whistled through the yard and the gusts whisked with scary regularity over the water, a plan was laid and Renato agreed to go out for 10 minutes on the water with the safety boat and see if he and they felt a race was doable for everyone. Tara and Henry in the safety boat fairly quickly contacted the Race Box to confirm that they all felt that we should proceed with the race.
At the briefing it had been decided that the safety boat would lay two buoys, one near the first red rowing buoy and the other near Crabtree on the Fulham bank giving a decent reach and minimal beating and l running.
Steph, Sally, Carla and Allan and Renato all took 4.7 rigs and new member Sam and Jamie took radials, much against Jamie’s better judgement but being a gentleman he decided to forego a club 4.7 so that the girls could use them……. maybe that will be the last time!!
Just getting the boats onto the water and launching them was difficult enough and the gusts swirling around the slipway were doing their best to capsize the lasers even before their helms managed to scramble aboard. Eventually everyone was on the water and suddenly Sally had a capsize which immediately separated her from her laser very quickly. The safety boat quickly reunited them and Sally joined the others above the line and the countdown began. It was so windy on the balcony of the Race Box that Elena and I couldn’t get the Preparatory board down at all as it swung and twisted itself above us.
Everyone seemed to get to the first buoy without too much difficulty but as the race went on, there were capsizes all round with the exception of Allan and Sam who managed to stay upright. How I don’t know as the gusts seemed to build from our position in the Race Box, and the light appeared to be going too. We decided that four laps was going to be one too many as it would be virtually dark before they got back so we radioed Tara and Henry and they relayed the message the to the relieved fleet that they only had to do three laps.
The race to the finish was an exciting one, but it quickly became clear that Sam was going to get over the line first. At one point Steph overtook Renato who had capsized, but no sooner had she got ahead of him than she capsized too, and Renato managed to regain his lead.
Despite the extremely testing conditions and the amount of capsizes, the fleet generally seemed to have enjoyed their race with Sally sporting a slight black eye after an argument with her boom!
Many congratulations to Sam – it’s great to have new blood in the winner’s enclosure – 2nd came Renato and Steph 3rd.
Extremely well done to all sailors and thanks to our excellent safety boat team, and many thanks from me to Elena for all her help in the Race Box and on the slipway.
The icing on the cake so to speak was that Henry’s girlfriend Stephanie had made the most delicious pumpkin pie for us all – Henry please convey our thanks and say to her that it’s definitely time she joined…….!!
Sara Bennett (Vice Commodore)