The countdown to the race began as soon as the last trolley was pulled from the water, during a lull in the stream of rowers. A mishap from Dan J left him over the line following the bell, so while the fleet barrelled up the river to the first gate with the tide, he worked to return to the line only to gradually slip farther away. We suggested he accept a penalty and get on with the race, and he obliged.
The course had been laid as two gates, using the nearest two red rowing marks on the south bank. This would give the flexibility to use either bank depending on the wind and tide. The marks on the Fulham bank were slightly farther apart in an attempt to counter the benefit that a weaker tide would have on the Fulham bank. At least, that justification makes for a good excuse.
All boats rounded the northern upriver buoy to complete the first lap, then wrangled their way back against the tide, keeping close to the Fulham bank. Clearly the attraction of the closer southern buoy wasn’t enough of a lure.
Around this time, someone else on VHF Ch 37A began holding the transmit button down, so please imagine a soundtrack of white noise as you enjoy the remainder of this tale.
Rowers were still making the most of the slipway as Renato led the fleet back up the Fulham bank once again before darting out to round the downriver buoy and head back into the stronger current.
It was great to see Paul and Sam Elliott out on the water in their Enterprise. I was fantastically pleased to see the boat showed no evidence of taking on water during the race, despite the concerns (I had not vocalised beforehand) as to her seaworthiness.
Halfway through the race, Dan J attempted a maverick manoeuvre of rounding the rowing mark near the Mile Post – the first to do so – in a valiant but perhaps ineffective attempt to catch up.
As Renato rounded the downriver buoy during lap 4, Sally was hot on his heels, with Allan and Steph moments behind. All then charged back up the river, taking a single tack with the incoming tide.
Not a short distance behind, Dan J and the Elliotts sailed alongside each other as they approached the downriver mark. A hearty conversation appeared to be in progress before the buoy, but that was abandoned as the Elliotts undercut an apparently distracted Dan while rounding the mark.
At exactly 3 PM, Jamie rounded the downriver buoy on lap 5 – having gained some ground on Allan and Steph. No overtaking had occurred at the front of the fleet, and nor would it on the sixth and final lap. Final standing on corrected times was Renato, Allan+Steph (just 21 seconds behind on corrected time), Sally (1 corrected minute later), then Jamie, Paul+Sam, Connie, and an unlucky DNF for Dan.
Everyone came ashore safely, with a lot of “Catch me, Jamie!” from Sal, and a great reaction from Sofia as she realised who was calling her from the first Laser.
Well done to new member Connie W for making a great start to her SBSC racing career!
Thanks finally to Daniel Barker and sons (James and Christopher) for ably manning the safety boat and keeping a diligent count on completed laps.