Sep 02

The big pursuit race – Digby Koe’s report

I certainly remember arriving and being directed to Sina who had already begun to get things properly organised. I then tried to look industrious and observed some valiant sailors rigging boats, while Sina took everyone’s details. Sarah B was there, gently manoeuvring her magnificent solo into race order. Her boat always brings to mind a fabulously well cared for piece of furniture, so elegant and shiny it is. Ironic that it is often sailed so athletically by our Commandant of Vice. Who else? Well Tom Glockner, the erstwhile American, Bob (or is Rob) the well muscled fellow who rides a motor bike and often floods lasers, Alan and Steff and Roland too. Roland was a slight older chap I hadn’t met before who looked like a member of the CIA, in dark glasses. He was friendly though and had the air of a man who could tell a few stories. My son Henry was there as well, the little stormtrooper, in his new Topper, ready to take on the world and surprisingly (for us and for him as it turned out), my son Edmund also took to the water, ready to compete.

As for the wind, well it was as fickle as an ill tempered wife. One minute caressing you gently down the Thames, the next giving you a smack round the head for some ill remembered misdemeanour probably committed in a public house. In truth it wasn’t that bad. Its just than analogy comes to mind easily. There was no sign of radials or the like and everyone was up for a capsize free competitive venture. As this was a pursuit race, the thorny subject of how to deal with the gaps between the boats had to be addressed. Steph was thinking initially a short race should decide the order of departure. Allan thought that too much kerfuffle. I agreed and we decided to approximate suitable gaps. Our calculations were rough and ready and we were off.

We set a course, of course. Sina sensibly insisted upon a sausage (a bratwurst, if you will). 1 mark by the Crabtree, the other half way there. The plan? A pursuit race, with staggered starts for the boats and 1 hours sailing to be undertaken, with the result dependent upon progress at the hour mark.

The start was fraught with mishap. Firstly, Sina and I took an age untying the endless knots in the buoy lines. Then, we realised that by the time we had set off the 6 or so competing boats, the last sailor would have been on the water another 20 minutes. Then we realised that Edmund, who we would let off first in the Topper Topaz would be about a mile away from the safety boat by the time the last boat went over the line (aged 9 and unable to right a boat on his own). Quite stressful. Nevertheless, everyone set off without a hitch. I did prey to many of the gods that Edmund would not capsize before I had persuaded Sina that we should proceed with all speed to the top mark and luckily they were patient. He didn’t capsize before we could get to him – although he did give up, which meant I had to sail his damn boat back to SBSC, which I felt (given the Topper Topaz is very small) was a similar experience to being locked up in a stress position in Abu Ghraib for a fortnight.

The race itself. How did it turn out? Well, I missed much having to sail my son’s infernal boat home. Henry Koe led for a while I am told, before being overhauled first by Allan, then Steph and then Sarah. These 3 titans, latterly joined by the redoubtable Tom G battled it out for first place (Henry made it clear that he viewed the gaps between the boats unfairly timed. I agree to an extent but wasn’t that worried). The lead was exchanged time and again, like a tired Euro, but eventually Allan and the evervescent secret agent Roland capsized, leaving the race to be won and lost between Sara and Steph. Sara pitted all her cunning and experience against the athletic Ms Tollemache, but could not  restrict the young athlete from bringing home the bacon once again.

Is there any need to hear more? I expect not. We had another race, in which I gave Henry a mammoth head start and which he won (harried to the finish line none the less by the indomitable and now irascible TG. At this point, all returned to the club house to lick their wounds and to sail another day, bemoaning their ill treatment once again by Mother Thames. Last words go to my safety boat companion. What a legend she is. Thanks for your company Sina!”