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South Coast: Hamble River Race
15th July 2017 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
It was ten years since we last organised this event for the South Coast Group. This year, the day started out with overcast skies, but that was a big improvement on the previous event in 2007, when it poured with rain for most of the day. The wind was a brisk south-westerly, enough to get the boats moving but not too much – in fact ideal for the run up the river.
Four boats had arrived at Premier Marina Swanwick and set about rigging makeshift masts, sails and rudders on their inflatable tenders. Three other tenders joined the group from their local moorings, and we all assembled ashore for a race briefing at 13.00. All seven then set off up-river towards the start line. By now, the tide was beginning to flood strongly, and a misjudgement saw both entries from Busiris carried over the start line, while they were setting sail, and they both had to be towed back to the start, by which time the other four had got off to a good start and were well on their way.
Problems with rudders and rigging led to some early makeshift repairs on three boats. Although the wind blew predominantly up the river, the northern bank was a lee shore and regularly collected unwary competitors, as they made their way upstream.
Leading the fleet from the start was Elsie crewed by Gale and Doug from Flycatcher. They had made an excellent job of their lugsail and even had a leeboard. With this, they were able to make best use of the wind and finished just ahead of Seamole from Busiris, crewed by Sarah and Marley – a veteran of the first sailing ditch crawl ten years ago. They had been going very well, until just before the end, when they got stuck on the west bank and lost a paddle, trying to get free. The paddle was later found and recovered.
Third place went to David and his son in Sassy minor; they had sailed a good race throughout. Fourth place went to John and Pauline in their Hamble Flyer – another veteran from the first sailing Ditch Crawl. Their result was very creditable as they were late at the start, having gone up a dead-end in the marina above the railway bridge and had to fight their way back against the strong tide, so they did really well to make up for the lost time.
Fifth place went to Anne and Martyn in Brolly Brigade. They had not been home from their summer sailing cruise to the Scillies, and had only two umbrellas available to use as sails. Unfortunately, they lost one of these early on, during a rather strong gust of wind, but made it nevertheless to the finish line (sorry you lost your favourite brolly of 15 years!).
Sixth came Pirate Zodiac, with her red kitchen roller-blinds as square sails – main and tops’l – another veteran of ten years ago, when she actually won the race. She was manned by Jane and grandson James from Busiris. As well as suffering a late start after being towed back to the start line and a rudder failure shortly after the start, she also had some rigging issues, but her main handicap was grandson losing his inflatable sword overboard, which resulted in ten minutes of unsuccessful effort to fight back against the tide to recover the said item. They then had to continue the race with a very grumpy seven-year-old!
Last, but by no means least was Anne and Alan with their Straight Three. Their loose-footed red square sail with its Westerly Logo looked very smart, but they had early rudder problems and ended up steering with an oar.
With the brisk wind, we all arrived at the Horse and Jockey at Curbridge in good time for the arranged meal. The prize giving preceded the meal and commemorative rubber ducks were awarded to the first, second and third boats across the finish line, and chocolate prizes to all finishers.
Gail Pattison, as the lady helm of the first boat home, won the Comfort Afloat Ladies Race trophy.