Report on the Strand Challenge
In fact only six people turned up, Sara and Jane who took a GP and Elaine and Leo who took a Xenon, Stephanie had driven up to SotG with James. Allan helmed the SB with John as no.2. We towed Enfin for Allan and Steph and to stop it veering about Allan tied a tyre on a long line to the transom and that stabilized it very well.
Fresh gusts funneled up the SW stretch past Corinthian which tested both crews but we arrived in good time. 5-6 Corinthian Lasers and Enterprises followed us up the river.
The river widens at Strand on the Green but there is a tree covered island in the middle and houses within a few yards of the bank which ensures that there is either very little wind or that it blows in the wrong direction, something the locals have learned to exploit. They also have their own starting sequence; 6 mins –3mins– Start, with flag signals, and that caught our crews out on the wrong side of the river.
Some 12 Boats made a slow and congested start leaving our three with a lot of ground to make up. The fleet quickly spread out with the Strand aces sailing smoothly past, against the tide a few feet from becalmed visitors. The leading Laser, helmed by an ex- olympian, roll tacked all the way down the windward legs showing us how to come out of a tack faster than you go into it. An International 14 hull with a Lug sail slid past respectable Enterprises. Allan worked his way steadily through the fleet and though he got briefly stuck on the third lap, he finished 10th. Both Sara and Jane found the light variable wind difficult in their heavy boats and were not able to recover from their bad start.
The Strand on the Green v SBSC trophy therefore staid firmly with them. I’m convinced that they are very difficult to beat on their home water and if we want that rather handsome trophy we need to lure them down to ours.
Strand maintained their habitual hospitality to the point of providing delicious homemade beer and the wind having dropped we sailed quietly home. We measured the clearance under Hammersmith bridge by lowering Enfin onto it in the ebb tide and by heeling the boats, Leo and Elaine drifted through comfortably about 3 1/2 hours after high tide.