As last year, the OOD decided to break away from the norm
for the Cecil Howard Memorial Race and offer a downwind start.
Fortunately, conditions were light enough to make this a reasonably safe option,
further reinforced by another unusual decision to space the starts 10 minutes
apart - although this did mean the bigger, faster yachts were coming back
through the start line while the slower yachts were still manoeuvering for their
A number took the decision to get above the line early and
wait in the reeds until it was their turn to race. From there it was
simply a case of deciding when to begin your downwind run to the start line
against a surprisingly strong tide. Once past the factory, it was a fast
close reach to the bottom buoy and a tricky gybe mark. Get it wrong and it
would be easy to end up in the reed bed or to find yourself beginning to tack
sooner than those who chose a more appropriate line.
Once back past the factory and the potentially tricky
corner there, it was a long and a short up Cantley Reach to the usual drift
through Langley Woods, holding the lee shore, if you could, and inching through
on any wind that managed to reach your sail. Then, some more tacking and
reaching up the river, past the wind shadow of the Beauchamp Arms and so to
Train Reach; tacked by many and close hauled or luffed by the fortunate ones.
There were reports of a number of boats taking unplanned
visits to the reedbeds or the shallow shores, but 23 of the 25 starters finished
successfully and enjoyed a wait in the sunshine for the results. This
turned out to be a Green Wyvern benefit (unplanned, they said!) with boats from
that club taking the top three places. Tinkerbell, in fourth place was
awarded the Ian Spoors Trophy for fastest "slow" boat not otherwise
winning a trophy and Force four, to their surprise, won the other tasteful
cup. Stella Genesta was awarded the care of the David Valentine Memorial
Trophy for the next year, while Simon Miles was left wondering how to get the
main trophy home on the train, after Pan's win.