It was Sunday 21st of May, a downriver Bevington, the jewel in the crown of the SBSC series.
In the northern parlance it was literally “cracking the flags” with 9-11 mph winds in a toasty 24 degrees centigrade. Some might say perfect weather to go boating. The initial pre-race drama only added to the excitement with John P agreeing to step in to the empty race officer role at late notice, the commodore going missing to sort out the garage as well 13 boats getting ready to launching for the race.
The Competitors were…
In lasers: Renato, Johnny, Jane D, Henry C, Sally, Hannah and Tom G trying out a tiny 8.1 sail.
In Solos: Sara, Andy T, Digby
In the Enterprise: Allan & Steph,
In the Topper: Henry K
With the inevitable delay the bell was rung at approximately 4pm and the race was on! In a strange turn up for the books and totally against form Renato led the race through Putney Bridge, ably followed by the late launching Enterprise and the queen of vice in her Solo. The other lasers followed through with Andy, Jane D and Henry K following closely behind.
At this moment our favourite “Proclaimer” Digby, in his first race since the Scottish walk, experienced a moment of regret. Deciding to let a bunch of amateurs try and rig his shiny repaired Solo he started taking on water at an alarming rate. Ben in the Safety boat offered a number of plausible and helpful conjectures but all came to nought. The only thing we knew for sure was it was absolutely, totally, explicitly and resolutely nothing to do with his self- bailers being open as they definitely were not.
After Putney Bridge with the wind dropping slightly John started regretting his magnanimity in agreeing to assist Sina as they watched the boats waft down the glassy Thames, with the leading pack in the order of Renato, Allan & Steph, Tom and Sara.
Further down the course the ROs, with only 54 years of experience between them, got worried about the wind and tide situations and as such took the executive decision to drop the buoy between Battersea and Albert Bridge. This decision was immediately regretted as due to the speed of the following pack and a large cruiser this mark was soon reached by the leading sailors zooming past the line to pull up after Albert Bridge for a nice sunning session on the bank.
The first three over the line in the first race were Renato, Allan & Steph and Tom. They were followed by Amy, Johnny, Sara and Sally – all within 40 seconds of each other.
Ben tried to bring a sense of magic to the shore sit in playing such favourite songs as Moana (everyone should watch this lovely sailing film) and on specific request from Sally, many songs from the rock ballad section of his phone.
The decision was given by the RO’s to give everyone 20 minutes’ notice of the start however, this was almost not enough as the tide continued to fight many of the dauntless sailors with only the higher beached sailors ( Renato, Tom and Johnny) having the perfect start reaching the line15s before the bell.
However, due to their steely racing nature Allan & Steph had closed the gap to just behind Renato beating up the favoured Southbank towards Battersea Railway Bridge. All techniques were used to wring the last bit of speed out of the wind with even tandem roll tacks being tried out by Sara and Hannah ( captured by our intrepid photographer and SBO Mike) to close the gaps on the leaders.
Johnny and Sally took a gamble to go out in to the river which almost succeeded in overhauling the leading boats however, once again the usual river and witch craft was utilised by Renato, Allan & Steph and Sara to great effect claiming back the lead.
These boats, which seemingly needed neither water nor wind to forge ahead, were ably pursued by “Tom Tom 8.1”, and Johnny streaming up to the Bridge at Putney with Hannah, Henry C, Sally, Jane, Andy, Henry K following up. First over the finish line was Renato, followed by Allan & Steph and Sara.
The overall race was won by Allan & Steph with Renato in second and Sara in third place.
Many thanks to so many people for turning up, with special thanks to John for stepping in at the last moment and to Mike for his singular attention to photography, capturing many beautiful images to encapsulate the poetic, majestic even balletic nature of going for a sail down the Thames on a sunny afternoon…
Ben & Sina