Very challenging day for planning the race. Little wind from NNE means we are good against the tide, but which bank to choose? Putney Bank looks better exposed to NNE wind, but the tide is likely to be a bit stronger due to the river bending. On the other side, Fulham bank has a weaker tide close to the wall, which would help the boats in the legs towards the clubhouse.
What to do? The wind was not helping either, and changed direction several times. There were conflicting suggestions and eventually a final change of direction, back to the original NNE, convinced all to lay a sausage along Putney bank.
Sorted? Not really. We could use the red buoys, but…. Ranelagh used them :/ and they were just then laying other buoys for their race. So our great safety boat team went to ask their safety boat if they were planning to use the red buoys today. Of course they would! So we decided to lay 2 yellow buoys just upriver of the first 2 red buoys on Putney Bank for our race. Sorted!
But the wind was not promising much. Will we be able to complete 4 laps by the change of tide, forecast at 12:30? We’ll see how long it takes for the first lap and then decide.
We started the race almost sharp as planned, at 11:20. Some boats didn’t manage to be downriver of the start line in time and the wind was so weak that they couldn’t make it within the next few minutes. So they were allowed to race after having proven they tried their best.
The first lap was soooo slow and painful. At the first buoy it wasn’t clear the boats would be able to make against the tide. But eventually the wind picked up a bit and all 4 boats managed to complete the first lap within few minutes of each other. Jakob got first to the buoy, but on the wrong side and had to maneuver to get to the correct side, thus letting the 2 Solos of Allan and Sara pass him. The first lap took exactly half hour to complete…. Bad sign, we might need to shorten the race to 2 laps 🙁
But then the wind caught up and the second lap was completed in 15 minutes by Jakob on his Laser and John and Jane on the Enterprise. Sara and Allan were a bit behind and this short delay transformed in a huge delay eventually.
The tide was changing, almost exactly at the forecasted time 12:30 and considering that the wind might drop, the RO decided to cut the race to 3 laps, just in time to tell Jakob who was passing the far buoy first, and then all others.
Allan managed to complete the second lap only after Jakob got to the far buoy. And Sara completed her second lap only after Allan got to the far buoy himself!
Apparently the games were done, but Allan pulled a magician trick and sailed back along the Fulham bank, helped by nice wind gusts and a slower tide on that side. He got to the last buoy just few seconds after Jakob and seconds before John and Jane.
It was a breathtaking final with Jakob leading and completing in 1h12:00, followed by Allan 29 seconds later and John and Jane 9 seconds after Allan.
And a great performance by Sara who managed to recover from being almost 15 minutes late at the second lap, to finishing just 3 minutes after John and Jane…
And it’s not all, more surprises with the corrected time results below. What a race!
The final results with corrected time are as follows:
1st – Allan – 1:03:08
2nd – John/Jane – 1:05:23
3rd – Sara – 1:06:03
4th – Jakob – 1:06:47
I loved to be RO for this Race, thank you Russell for great help and support, and to the safety boat crew, Josh and Leo S, who kept a good eye on our sailors, plus some errands like going to talk to Ranelagh safety boat and position and re-position the buoys for the race.