Race Officer:Sara Bennett and Lucy Edgar
Safety Boat:Giles Harrison and Anne Hauger
Gusts of 36mph had been forecast all week and all my hopes that it would reduce to something more manageable came to nought. So that was it for me, I didn’t fancy yet another swim after the previous 2 Sundays, and was pleased to swap with Henry as Race Officer so that he could go and sail!
Contact was made with Ranelagh by phone at midday and they confirmed they were fielding six boats – two Solos and four Lasers – and would leave their slipway once the pre Boat Race trials had come through The course was explained on the phone, and I suspect it flummoxed them somewhat as was to be seen later…….
Giles and Anne busied themselves getting the safety boat ready, and our sailors rigged and and before we knew it the Ranelagh sailors were appearing up the river – now that a lot of the trees along the bank have been cut down we can see right to Putney Bridge, so nobody can sneak up on us without us knowing!
Allan and Ollie in the Ent were the only double hander in the race, Renato with a full laser sail, Tara and Steph with 4.7s and Henry with a radial.
Giles and Anne laid the agreed course which was effectively a box using the two rowing marks and placing two of our buoys opposite them by the Fulham bank. By this time, Nick and Victor from Ranelagh had arrived to watch the fun from the balcony and we’re looking forward to lots of capsizes all round . They were not disappointed! Armand appeared and dispensed cups of tea and coffee to us all and generally entertained us all and then disappeared to continue on his walk.
With trusty Lucy by my side we managed the start in immaculate fashion, just! Luckily Lucy was an excellent Assistant Race Officer and it did remind me that I really need to smarten up my mental arithmetic when I was struggling to work out what time to ring the one minute bell……uh oh! Renato was out of the starting blocks with his usual panache and he soon managed to get a good lead. Chris Edwards made a good showing to start with but soon was beset with capsizes as were most people. I have to admit I didn’t get time to actually watch much of the race, as not only were we chatting with our visitors, but I was entering lap times on the Race Results which Lucy was reading to me as people went round the first rowing buoy so I had my proverbial nose to the grindstone so what was going on out on the water largely passed me by.
What was very apparent when I did get a chance to look, was that the Ranelagh sailors did not appear to have experience of judging where you need to tack from the Fulham bank to get round the top rowing buoy, as with regularity they all managed to miss it on most of the laps. Whereas our accomplished sailors all managed to get round it without a hitch……. I have to put this down to our varying our courses all the time, whereas Ranelagh only have two or three set courses and they don’t deviate from them.
It wasn’t long before Renato was lapping the back markers, and with the wind was increasing in strength, It was agreed with the safety boats that we would shorten the course to 4 laps. Everyone was looking tired after so much swimming, and I could almost hear a general sigh of relief that the end of the capsizing was nearly within grasp.
Renato was indeed first over the line and won overall, and after the results had been entered, it was great to see that all the 5 South Bank sailors came in the top 7 out of the 11 starters! We had two DNFs – Chris Edwards had a complete inversion and couldn’t recover it without help from the safety boat and Una and her crew only did three laps. An excellent result from Tara who came 2nd, and Thomas Stolper from Ranelagh came 3rd.
Later after all boats were put away we had a good pasta bake lunch with everyone from Ranelagh and a good time was had by all.
The next joint race against Ranelagh is a downriver at their start line on May 15th.