It is tricky running yacht races in little or no wind. The Saturday was blazing hot, but with only a little breeze; the one saving grace being that we were running the afternoon race on the last of the flood, when the tide is probably at its weakest. Another slight difficulty was encountered when it was realised that the club boat was leaking and trying to turn itself into a yellow submarine. Once the marks had been laid, it proved necessary to run it up the slip, manually haul it out and empty the water back into the river. Fortunately, an emergency repair by the bosun soon had things watertight again
Meanwhile, the fleet of 14 had set off looping up and down Cantley Reach and discovering that there was a knack to successfully rounding the top mark and escaping downriver without being swept above the buoy by the tide. Some found it easier than others, notably Anna, who seemed to take the whole thing in their stride and came out comfortable winners. Puck were unfortunate to remain becalmed and struggling for so long that the rest of the fleet lapped them, but everyone finished in the end.
The race over, it was time for a rerun of last year’s club boat agility trials, with the steersman blindfolded and taking instructions from their partner controlling the throttle, as they negotiated round buoys, before the blindfolded participant picked a ball; the number of which was added to their score. The fact that the slalom was downtide made things trickier, but most got round without hitting the marks, although sometimes by extremely circuitous routes. Those that went later made a better fist of it, having watched earlier mistakes, but what they didn’t know was that the first three runners had snaffled the higher numbered balls! Bob and Di Branscombe were this year’s triumphant winners, making the day a clean sweep for them.
Sunday started off rather cool with a light breeze which encouraged the setting of a course running up through Langley and looping round before returning to the finish at the moorings. As the day before, the slower boats were set off first and a cut off time was put in place to ensure there was time to get the third race in. Unfortunately, the light breeze decided not to hold up and the decision (perhaps wrong) was made to take out the loop and return straight back to the finish line. This all went even more wrong when even the bigger, faster yachts couldn’t get back through Langley Woods and sadly even the eventual shortening of the course to a finish line just in front of the first boat only allowed Anne and Anna to finish. May got tantalisingly close to the line, but then the wind died away again, they drifted backwards and time ran out.
For the afternoon, there was a reversion to the safe option of circuits up and down Cantley Reach, but even this turned out to be only one lap as returning downriver against the tide was a slow process for many. Despite this, everyone finished though, with Shruff deploying their mudweight to prevent a backwards drift at one point, which earned them a third place. Anne took the honours to go with her first place from the morning and therefore making a second successful defence of the overall trophy for this weekend.
Full results in the usual place
Photographs can be seen