Jul 16

The Ruby Bell Race 2017

The “Ruby Bell” is a coveted trophy, awarded to the winner of a special Ruby Race each year.

The Ruby Race is a downriver event, run as a single leg, where racers choose their own start time to (hopefully) coincide with them rounding the downriver mark at the moment the tide changes. Competitors must consider the wind, tide, rainfall and the astrological alignment. Leave too early and you’re stuck fighting the outgoing tide as soon as you round the mark, leave too late and you’ll be fighting the incoming tide before you even make the mark. Your result is the elapsed time adjusted for your PY / handicap as normal.

During the race briefing, the downriver mark was declared to be the central arch of the Victoria railway bridge, just west of Battersea Power Station; a little further than a typical downriver course.

It’s typically advised to ignore any “tips” from other members of the club; it’s one day in the year when you should trust nobody! With that said, Allan (who was not able to attend, and so had nothing to gain from deceiving anyone) had offered the following sneak peak of the river on Friday (taken “a few minutes” before his email at 13:59 on 14 Jul 2017):

After a tense delay as the fleet entered the latest wind data into their statistical models, Armand and Rex nonchalantly cast off, taking the race into their own hands by setting of first. This – as usual – triggered an exodus of the majority of the fleet who began their pursuit within a couple of minutes. First Sara, then Elaine, Jakob and Henry and Jamie a few minutes after them. Ben was late arriving to the club (maybe on purpose?!) and so the Albacore launched several minutes after most of the fleet.

After a long journey downriver, most of the fleet was together with the Lasers fighting for the lead as they rounded the downriver mark. The buoy had been placed to avoid the need for the fleet to precariously travel through the long arch under the railway bridge.

Ben and Sina apparently timed things perfectly! The buoy started to pull upriver – indicating the tide had turned – just moments before they rounded it.

Unfortunately , the Dory’s engine broke down, so David heroically towed it home, giving the safety boat team plenty of sunbathing time.


After all handicap adjustments had been applied, Sara emerged victorious, followed closely by Jamie in second (by less than a minute!) and Ben & Sina in third. The day was rounded off nicely by delicious cake that our victorious Sara had baked.


Thank you to John, David and Amanda for their safety boating, and to Jane for offering to hold the fort and record timings as people set off and arrived home. And Sara for her celebratory cake!