Race Report: Not The Goodwin Downriver
19 March 2017
Unpredictable, gusty, erratic, fractious: These are just some of the words used to describe to language directed towards the Race Committee during the course of the race that was supposed to be The Goodwin Downriver.
It had promised to be a belter. St Patricks Day hangovers, the end of the Six Nations and winds were blowing 17 knots and gusting 30 – we had honestly only expected a handful of the brave ones to arrive. To our surprise 15 sailors were ready to embrace the challenge with 11 boats between them. The 4 Race & Safety Boat team joined these competitors, comprising of Lucy Edgar, Chris & Allison Barnes and myself, Richard Graham.
We quickly decided that, with the volume of the fleet and the gusty weather, a full downriver wasn’t the best option, so we set a fairly long sausage course between The Crabtree and Putney embankment. As the tide was still ebbing its way out, the space to sail was narrow but a gusty southwesterly wind meant that the race had legs.
The 11 boats were occupied by the following: Allan & Steph in the Enterprise, Johnny and Renato both took fully-rigged Lasers, Ben and Sina in the Albacore, Joe and Matthias in the GP14, Joao and Henry both in a Laser Radial, Josh and Christina in the Xenon and each of Jane, Sally and Amy took a Laser 4.7.
The race started at 12.28 – only 40 minutes later that we had hoped. Johnny had a great start followed by Allan & Steph in the Enterprise, Joe and Matthias in the GP14 and Renato in the Laser. This looked like a good leading pack with the others making their own way over the starting line. By the 1st buoy by The Crabtree, Jonny and Renato were competing to be first through – it became clear at this stage that luck was going to play a huge part in the racing, as the power of the tides and unpredictability of the wind forced errors in approach. Renato lost out and Joe and Matthias squeezed their GP14 through the buoy in front of him. Not far behind came Allan & Steph, and then a nice trio of Lasers, with Henry, Amy and Sally taking 5th, 6th & 7th spot.
The race continued for 3 more laps of the sausage, with continuing unpredictability, capsizes and general drama. We lost the Xenon due to technical issues, the Enterprise due to water-retention and then poor Joao in the Laser Radial had to retire and find a rather large plaster for his nose. The gusts were brutal.
Renato won the race, having taken on the lead by the second loop. Johnny had suffered his own misfortune to lose his lead by becoming stuck on the sandbank for a brief time. However, the distance he had earned in the first lap ensured that he was able to take second place. Henry was third over the line in the Laser Radial with Amy not far behind in the Laser 4.7 – their position on the race result switched with Amy snatching 3rd from Henry by a minute or two due to the handicap system.