The first sail of the year started well with the sun shining and a gentle westerly wind of 7-13kts promising a leisurely sail for the Southbank Sailing Club. Thirteen dinghies and two safety boats embarked upon the downriver race, starting from the club house and heading towards the Battersea Pagoda – a roundtrip measuring approximately 6.06 nautical miles. The plan for race one was to follow the pull of the outgoing tide towards Battersea and to then begin race two as the tide turned back up towards Putney.
The initial stretch of the race, between the club house and Putney bridge started almost immediately as the tide pulled sailors away from the start line and a call had to be made to start the race from launch. From here the sailors made their way onwards, weaving under bridges and picking up speed as they sailed under Fulham railway bridge and towards Wandsworth bridge. Jakob and Henry were leading, with Sara and James hot on their heels. Under Wandsworth bridge an unexpected gust hit and Jakob’s laser went over in a series of capsizes, leaving Allan to streak ahead.
Between Battersea rail bridge and Battersea road bridge the winds quietened down and the fleet began to separate out into two groups, group one consisting of the two leading lasers and solos, and group two made up of the remaining nine dinghies. In an attempt to change their position in the fleet, several boats tried cutting the corners behind the barges and buoys as we sailed towards Albert bridge.
Just after the bridge, the leading safety boat laid the finish line and the fleet ended the first race as the sun shone from behind the park. Allan led the way with first place across the line, followed by Sara, Mike and James.
Now that race one had finished, the sailors began to prepare themselves for the return race back to the clubhouse. By now the sun was starting to set, the tide had turned and the wind had dropped. All racers started on the line together, with the majority favouring the Battersea side of the river, except for Hannah who bravely paved her own route and stayed towards Chelsea embankment.
This time Henry was in the lead, with Jakob following closely behind between Battersea road and rail bridge. Sara and James were continuing to battle it out for the leading position for the solos, repeatedly taking it in turns in pole position.
At Wandsworth bridge we were joined by London Corinthian Sailing Club and the river filled with around twenty dinghies.
The finish line for race two was in line with the clubhouse and saw a fight for the finish between Jakob, Henry and Allan.
But the overall results were:
1- Allan (Solo)
2- Sara (Solo)
3- James (Solo)
All in all a lovely start to the new year; the helms all stepped ashore grinning from a day in the sunshine – but ready to go inside and warm up!