As last year: another day of hardly any wind. The forecast 9-12 mph looked ridiculously optimistic, but at least it wasn't raining. Six yachts set off upriver, in two starts. With the last of the flood under them, the trick was to stay below the line before the gun. One yacht seemed to think gently bouncing along the bank was the right technique to achieve this, but the rest were more conventional.
Vixen crossed the line first, closely followed by Alice Rose, with a selection of YSC northern division members on board. They steadily pulled ahead, but all in slow motion in the lightest of light airs. All too soon, the ebb set in and then each crew was gazing at the same scenery for minutes on end. Further back, the second start were racing in reverse and, on one vessel, when the rum ran out just beyond the first corner, they retreated back to the pub.
Meanwhile, at the front of the fleet, pessimism was setting in and great was the relief when the OOD decided to shorten course by bringing the top mark down to the leading boat, Alice Rose. Then, of course, the breeze picked up a little!
By now, only Alice Rose, Vixen and Pandora III were still racing, well strung out, but having rounded the mark, it became a pleasant run back on the tide. By now, the positions were fixed though and the application of handicaps did nothing to alter the finishing order, with Alice Rose taking the trophy and the turkey, followed by Vixen and then P3.
Of course, there was also a meal, enjoyed by around 40 members, and a Christmas hat competition. The less said the better regarding Kelvin's animated headgear, but the judges found it very hard to pick a winner, settling eventually on Leonie's festive greenery with pheasant and dangling knitted dolls.
Team Rebecca were absent this year, choosing to sail across the Atlantic instead, but the wonders of modern technology allowed them to enter the raffle and they duly collected a handful of prizes. The new Secretary, however, denied them the hamper by cleverly drawing her own ticket. Welcome back, Julia!