It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as the sailors gathered for Race 7 of the Bevington Series, which looked to be a gentle sail around the buoys, with the wind hovering around 5 knots, but flickering and flukey, like the light from a poorly wired bulb in an old house.
It had been a while since I’d been at the club and it was nice to meet some members I hadn’t met before. I almost immediately got a chance to apologize to Sebastian Glen for telling him that he looked like Jamie M-F’s twin brother, as he really has heard that before. It was nice to see Rita and Miguel, although I felt sorry that our Portuguese friends, who always look like they should be on a beach, had been greeted with such insipid sailing weather. I was pleased to see Giles and Trish as the safety boat crew. Punctual, competent and full of good humour, they were all you could ask for. We were in good hands.
It looked like a standard Southbank race fleet, although it was interesting to see three Solos on the water (Allan in his new craft (the envy of Ranelagh), Sebastian in the Joker and Sara in Conker). As well as the usual gaggle of Lasers and the odd two-hander (where have all the Enterprises gone?).
Joseph was superbly efficient as Race Officer. Brisk, determined, and only slightly worried that I was there to assist him and could possibly throw a spanner in the works, he executed the preparations and start with military precision. He set a great course given the wispy breeze and I was certain it would be a great race.
Except, the weather intervened. Notwithstanding, the race got off to a good start, with the lead changing hands between Jacob, Chris and others, but it soon became a somewhat desperately slow moving affair.
The wind quickly died, almost entirely, and every last puff had to be unscrupulously exploited in order to beat the tide. Not even Allan and Sara, the great magi of the Thames could make huge headway and as the boats headed towards the end of the first lap, the sailors seemed to cease making progress entirely. It was difficult to be certain, but it seemed that the lead had been more or less shared at the top mark between Jacob, Chris Braun and Allan.
Given that the fleet was more or less becalmed, I decided to go out to the riverbank to enquire as to the morale of the competitors and gawp at Allan’s beautiful new Solo. Meanwhile, Joseph was making decisions at the control centre, and given the slow or absent progress, he soon made the correct call and shortened the race to one lap.
As the boats inched over the line it became apparent that Chris had triumphed, through some great tactical sailing and perhaps the occasional pump. Allan followed in second place, with Sara third. Those that didn’t finish the race included Miguel and Rita, the redoubtable Henry Cook and Sebastian in the Joker.
It seems like ages ago now, given that since the race we have had World Cup and Wimbledon finals. It was a lovely day though and great to be at the Club. Thanks of course to the safety boat crew and of course to Joseph C – literally one of the best race officers there is.