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South Coast: Hamble Rally

14th July 2018 - 15th July 2018

The weather for this years “ditch crawl” could not have been better. A fine sunny day with just a few fair-weather cumulus and a light SW breeze was just perfect, and a great relief to the organisers with the forecast of flat calm or light easterlies from the big high pressure which was giving us so much sunny weather this July.

This year we had eight entries – one better than last year. With six repeat entries from 2017, and two first-timers, for one of whom, Miranda, it was their first ever WOA event.

The boats assembled at Premier Marina, Swanwick for the skippers briefing. This was mainly to decide where we were going to have the picnic lunch!. Then it was off to the start line.

In light breezes, it was a much more controlled and orderly start than last year. All the boats got away on time, but those on the eastern side were soon engaged in trying to keep of the mudflats, which were not yet covered by the fast rising tide.

“Elsie”, crewed by Doug and Gail from FLYCATCHER and the winner from last year, got off to a good start, closely followed by “Seamole Swallow”, crewed by Jane from BUSIRIS and grandson Marley. The other boat from BUSIRIS – “Amazon Pirate” crewed by Dick and helmed by grandson James, was close behind as they rounded the first turn and began the long haul towards the far turn.

Once round the corner, the wind seemed to ease and “Miranda”, crewed by Anthony and Anne of MIRANDA, began to overhaul the “Amazon Pirate”. Despite some nail-biting and desperate trimming of the red kitchen roller blinds, we could not prevent “Miranda”, with her lovely blue sail, passing to assume our third position.

The others were making ground on us too, and with the exception of “Elsie” who had disappeared off into the distance, with “Seamole” just keeping in contention, the fleet came together again just short of the last turn and most of the boats were pushed by a southerly slant of breeze into the reeds on the north shore. The “Seamole” got into difficulties (reeds) here but “Miranda” slipped round the corner and into second place.

On the “Amazon Pirate” we took in all sail (simple with roller blinds) and allowed the strong tide to carry us round the corner, passing “Seamole” and regaining third place, before setting sail again for the final blow up the south-north reach to the finish line.

The finish line for this race is not too well defined – officially, it’s a line running west of the point which forms the end of Curbridge Creek, but that point isn’t very well defined, so it’s a bit iffy. When you hit the reeds at the northern end of the reach, you’ve probably passed it!

“Elsie” had already made the finish line by this time and “Miranda” finished a few minutes later to take Second Place. Getting round the last corner had provided only a brief advantage for the “Amazon Pirate” and as the winds went light again, the rest of the fleet were steadily catching us, with “Storm Chick”, crewed by Gill and George of STORMBIRD getting closer and closer, and “Hamble Flyer”, crewed by John Powell of MERLOT and “Mucky Pup”, crewed by Doreen and David of SASSY, not far behind.

Just then, the wind strengthened, and we sprinted for the finish line at a full 1¼ knots, to take third place overall. “Storm Chick” took fourth place, followed by “Mucky Pup” and then “Hamble Flyer” – a veteran of the first Upper Hamble sailing race in 2007.

“Moon Breeze” crewed by Alan and Anne of MOONSTORM and “Seamole” were still down at the bottom of the final reach, but eventually they both made it to the line to take seventh and eighth places respectively.

All the boats then continued up Curbridge Creek to the Horse and Jockey pub where we went ashore and had our picnics on the benches overlooking the creek. The race results were then agreed and a gold medal (chocolate), mini-bottle of bubbly and small rubber duck were presented to Gail and Doug Pattison as winners of the race (for the second year running). Gail will also receive the Comfort Afloat Trophy as the winning lady helmsman. Rosettes were also awarded to the first, second and third crews.

The double high water allows plenty of time at the top of the river for a meal or picnic, and most of the boats were on their way back downstream, well before the second high water. It was a choice of engines or oars for the return trip, but with the ebb tide to assist, it was an easy and quick trip back downriver to Swanwick.

In the evening, the intrepid sailors met up again at the Boathouse Café at Swanwick Marina to exchange yarns over drinks and dinner.


14th July 2018
15th July 2018
Event Category:


Dick Leedham