For the first weekend of November and a cold north-westerly breeze, there fourteen keen sailors arrived at the club to sail.
They all settled into (or onto if you’ve got a laser) their eleven boats. Every single person on that start line are phenomenal sailors; it could have been anyone’s win. It was going to be a great race to watch. The course was a triangle, first buoy of which was the second rowing mark by the milestone to try and provide as much of a beat as possible, with the second mark upstream on the Craven Cottage side of the river, with a run back to a mark just upstream of the line. The triangle had 6 laps, so I hope everyone could count…
There was a bit of a breeze of 10 knots gusting 15 with a gust coming through on the start line causing a few capsizes before the race began. The start bell went, with Johnny, Jamie and Sally all having great starts. The enterprise with their crew of three (Allan and Steph + a little one hitching a ride with Steph) had decided to take it easy for the day and stayed toward the back of the fleet.
The beat up to the first mark reshuffled the fleet, with the Albacore round first with Ben and Sina, then Renato in a Laser Standard coming out of absolutely nowhere (classic Renato manoeuvre) and rounding it in second followed closely by Johnny in a solo and Jamie in a Laser Standard. Renato quickly put himself in first position (classic) with Jamie not too far behind, giving him a run for his money. The run between marks 2 and 3 saw Jamie followed closely by Henry in a Laser Standard, the Albacore, Johnny and Sally in a Laser Radial. Jakob and Matthias were running side by side in Laser Standards, followed by David and Elaine in the Wayfarer and Sara in her small rig Solo, with the Enterprise taking it easy at the back.
Then Jakob decided to go for a spontaneous swim as he flipped his laser on a run. The daggerboard was up so it was difficult to pull it through and right it, losing considerable time in his race. While Armand and I floated around him in the safety boat, the fleet spread out as they rounded the third mark.
Renato was still in first (classic) with the Albacore not too behind.
By the third lap, the Enterprise, deciding they would rather race than take it easy, had taken third position on handicap after having a fantastic beat up to the rowing mark, putting them close behind Jamie, Johnny and Henry having some great racing, changing positions frequently.
Jakob, looking rather damp, was gaining on Matthias and the Wayfarer, who weren’t too far behind Sara and Sally.
On the fourth lap, crossing the river between the first and second mark, something amazing happened. The Albacore overtook Renato on the run. This completely threw Renato, who upon round the second buoy, knocked it as he gybed. He then completed his penalty turns in a gust, nearly capsizing on a second gybe, giving the Albacore a fantastic head start on the run up to the third mark.
On the fifth lap, Allan and Steph were powering ahead on the beat towards the rowing mark. They were using the tide to push them down the river as much as possible. Steph told Allan to tack. Allan didn’t tack. Allan then tacked, but the tide pushed them past the rowing buoy, meaning they had to run back up to it. They lost their place in the fleet with Henry, Johnny and Jamie, costing them their third place.
Meanwhile, Renato had got his mojo back and was quickly closing in on Ben and Sina in the Albacore (classic). But it was still the Albacore who crossed the line first, with Renato not too far behind. Jamie crossed third, with Johnny looking rather smug in his solo crossing fourth (had he done enough to win it on handicap?), followed closely by Henry. Allan and Steph crossed in sixth, then Sally, David and Elaine, and Sara with Jakob only 5 seconds behind and then Matthias.
On handicap it was Johnny in first, Renato in second and Ben and Sina in third. Plans are already in place for Johnny’s solo to go on the bonfire next year.
Special thanks to Emma and Jane SH for jumping into the race box to help an otherwise lonely Trish to start and finish the races. Also to Armand for listening to me babble on about the race and not crashing the safety boat. Thanks to Emma (again) and Jamie for the bonfire night food and antics and Trish for running the race and preparing the jacket potatoes and soup after.