After torrential rain for most of Saturday, Sunday’s weather looked much better and despite the holiday season being upon us, (and we know this because we are missing 5 little Koe’s…) 10 boats and accompanying sailors got t hemselves ready for the Downriver Race scheduled to start at 12.45.
Two participants were so keen to be there that they drove for 12 hours from the north of Scotland, slept 4 hours and arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for the off!! The forecast was for 13 gusting 25 mph but there was little evidence of that on the water as the usual “shall I take a full or radial” angst went on around the yard. Leo arrived and we decided that this should be his Downriver debut so he rigged a laser and went for a radial. Sal too, and Jane D went for a 4.7. Amy and Jane SH opted for Bleu d’Ecosse the club Enterprise whilst Allan and Steph took Oscar the GP14. Jakob, Jamie and Renato all went for full laser rigs and Johnny sailed his lovely Solo Bluebell. Ben and Sina just managed to get modifications and adjustments done to Albacore Dotty just before the race start!
The two Andy’s, Charlotte and I were the race team and I was very pleased for more reasons than I knew then when Elaine volunteered to help Charlotte and I on the RO safety boat. At the briefing I delayed the race start till 13.20 to try and accommodate a lot of rain water coming down the river which always delays the low water time.
So eventually at 13.25 the bells were rang, and flags lifted and lowered, and off they set with the Andy’s in attendance. Meanwhile, Charlotte and I had started the race and then joined Elaine at the water’s edge where Henry the Rigiflex looked very happy where he was…. the tide had gone out quite a bit and despite our best efforts, Henry remained stubbornly with heels firmly dug into the mud. Various methods of pulling and pushing were adopted until we realised that if we didn’t manage it, we’d have to ask the Andy’s to come and help us! Not a potential good look for the three girls so with a humongous effort and many expletives, we managed to coax Henry into the water. And off we went in hot pursuit of the disappearing fleet, so goodness knows what happened before Putney Bridge….
When we arrived the other side of Putney Bridge we saw that Jane D had her nose ahead of the rest of the fleet – pretty good considering there was not much wind at all. Renato decided to move to the north bank followed by Allan and Steph as they’d both seen better wind on that side of the river. We then dashed ahead to see where best to lay the buoy and whenever we looked around Renato seemed to be there, with Allan and Steph not far behind. We laid the buoy not far short of Chelsea Bridge and sure enough Renato came over the line first, followed by Allan and Steph and Johnny.
Within 8 minutes everyone had finished and landed on the beach apart from Ben and Sina who were intent on practicing their roll tacking – no doubt in anticipation of the Albacore Nationals at Weymouth early next month – good luck goes to them! And also to Amy who is competing in the Salcombe Regatta in mid August.
We all lounged around on the beach for about 20 minutes watching Ranelagh fighting the tide and making very little progress. Race 2 started at 14.51 and by then the wind had freshened. Allan, Steph and Johnny had a disappointing start as they had seen some good wind for a Port tack start but unfortunately it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived, just at the start Bell and they were marooned behind the safety boat. They got off their starting blocks pretty quickly considering where they were!
The return leg had quite a few capsizes including Leo who managed to get bangs and thumps on his head – a real baptism of Downriver racing.! Ben and Sina did an extremely quick turn round capsize, as did Jamie. Meanwhile Renato had made a big gap between him and the rest of the fleet and by the time he got to just before Putney Bridge was overtaking some of the Ranelagh fleet. He came over the line first with Jamie second, Ben and Sina third and Allan and Steph fourth.
It was going to a close result and on corrected time Allan and Steph beat Renato by 26 seconds with Johnny 3rd
Congratulations go to Leo who finished his first Downriver Race slightly battered and bruised but elated and exhilarated by his adventure.
Many thanks to the two Andy’s, together with Charlotte and Elaine who made my life very easy!