This past Sunday morning the weather was actually fairly pleasant with sunny skies and a respectable temperature just around rigging time. But, a bank holiday weekend possibly kept numbers down, and so we had five boats ready to race for the latest Goodwin down river. The boat roster consisted of three lasers (Johnny Lyell in a Radial, Jane Deith and Andy G. in 4.7’s) a 420 single handed by Graham Douglas and last but not least the mighty Albacore helmed by Ben and aided by new crew Elle.
The breeze was coming from a southeasterly to southerly direction at 14 knots with gusts reaching 22 knots. Plenty of wind to make things interesting it seemed, and as it turned out, plenty of wind oscillations to make the sailors lives even more demanding.
The upwind start saw Graham in the 420 hit the line spot on time with speed, Johnny second, and Andy G. lagging a bit in 3rd. Jane had to beach her laser on the Craven Cottage bank to fix a rigging issue (turned out to be costly), and Ben was adding a mast head float, and ended up few minutes late to the party. Graham was leading the early stretch of the race. Unfortunately, he went to close to the east bank next to the Hurlingham Club, and cracked his rudder. The 420 had to retire, and Johnny picked up the slack and led all the way down on the first leg. Ben recovered and crossed the line second, and then not far after, Andy crossed the line … Jane finished quite a few minutes behind the leaders after giving away several minutes working on the aforementioned rigging issue.
Admittedly, the RO’s dropped the finishing mark a bit soon for the spring tide, but we were down a safety boat, as Ray in Safety Boat One was experiencing engine problems. Luckily, he was able to tow Graham back to the club (Graham volunteered to wait … which would have been well over an hour until our return). The fleet had a big split in the first race finishing times as well. So, after a 30 minute wait between races, the fleet started the 2nd race with a down wind start in a freshening breeze on the other side of Albert Bridge near the pagoda in Battersea Park. All the boats were sailing fairly deep with mains sheeted completely out, and at that part of the river the wind is more or less undisturbed for a southerly direction. So the boats racing were rocking and rolling along, when a big gust hit near Battersea bridge. Andy, who was in a 4.7 was able to make it under the bridge (but he looked close to a death roll), but Ben in the Albacore rounded up under the West span and capsized, in what seemed an instant. Adeptly, he righted the boat while under the span and just missed ramming the boat a into the archway of the bridge. Ben causally remarked earlier that he would sail with shorts and two t-shirts. Fortunately he decided on his drysuit, because he and his crew got a proper dunking.
The fleet hit a big hole in the wind near St. Mary’s Church opposite the Lot’s Road Power station, as the breeze was now blanketed by all the buildings due to the curve in the river and the southeast or even easterly wind shifts. Just creeping along until they were able to get into better tide on the West bank. At that point in the race Andy was ahead on corrected time for leg two (and possibly for the whole race as well). He was in second position, boat for boat, after gaining a lot of distance back from Johnny in who was currently in first position. Andy tacked back into the river for more depth in the water. Quite honestly from our vantage point, it looked like the only move he could do. Jane following by a bit, decided to keep digging into the better but much shallower water on the bank. It turned out to be a pivotal move. As Andy hit a massive header and no wind. He parked for a short time, just a couple of boats from whence he sailed. Jane was able to keep charging ahead in what seemed to be centimetres of water, but far more advantageous current. The gamble paid off for Jane. Both Johnny and Jane were able to break through to the new wind (Jane went on to win the 2nd leg of the race on corrected time), although Johnny finished the race well ahead, with his larger Radial sail paying dividends with all the downwind sailing in the back end of the race. Eventually, all boats had what looked to be a great down wind sail from Wandsworth Bridge back to the club.
Thanks to Jen Black for helping with the RO duties and Ray Burnett and Ana for handling safety boat duties. Also, a shout out to Elaine, who helped upload the scoring (well … she actually did the scoring).
Finishing 1st on corrected time was Johnny Lyell in the Laser Radial, 2nd place went to Andy G. in the Laser 4.7, 3rd place over went to Ben in the Albacore and 4th to Jane in the 4.7.
An official scoring sheet can be viewed on the website or the club bulletin board.