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Minima Regatta - 2012

posted 26 Sep 2012, 23:33 by Graham Morley   [ updated 26 Sep 2012, 23:33 ]
Minima’s annual regatta at the weekend, sponsored by TWM solicitors for the sixth consecutive year, had everything a good sailing  meeting needs, except maybe a decent wind.

But a respectable turnout of 30 craft from neighbouring clubs up and down river from Kingston had a fair amount of fun puzzling out the shifts and eddies of what was basically a light south-westerly, modified to bits by the excessively tall poplars lining the Thames around the eastern edge of Hampton Court Home Park. It did give enough energy to one of the Thames Raters for it to severely customise Turks’ flagpole at Townend Pier, mind you we were always assured they were only there temporarily.

The event was distinguished by a mass of Merlins, with no fewer than 14 dinghies appearing for the three races on Saturday and Sunday. Three were current or former boats of Minima Merlin maestro  Ben Marshall, who was joined by many of his friends from Thames Sailing Club, where he is also a member, however none were a match for Mike Stephens from Tamesis Club, who are pretty much the Merlin specialists in this neck of the river. It is Tammy’s regatta next week, as Mike reminded us in his gracious speech of thanks, congratulating Minima on its beautiful new-look clubhouse.

For apart from sailing in conditions it would flatter to call challenging, the real purpose of this year’s gathering was for Minima to show off its gloriously revamped premises, courtesy of a handsome Olympic legacy grant from Sport England, and a lot of hard work by volunteers led by Brian Cheetham. Hon Sec Denise Norman has been tutoring nearby clubs in the black arts of grant application forms, although they will be doing well if they can match Minima’s ability to motivate (some of) its members to muck in.

The club is transformed upstairs and down, now lighter and airy and open to the views across the Thames, also praised by Kingston Mayor Mary Heathcote OBE, who recalled Minima’s role hosting the town’s beacon lighting party for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: altogether a historic year for the club. The new more welcoming and open look seems to be bearing fruit already in increased membership interest, and it will be a great and lasting Olympic benefit if we get more sailors enjoying the dubious delights of fluky south-westerlies on the river.

Races were not amazingly exciting, the conditions tended to spread fields out, and generally followed the form book, although Minima’s young sailing secretary Ali Banks had the pleasure of announcing a personal triumph when he took the Solo Hand trophy ahead of the club’s infinitely more experienced two Johns, Metzner and Kemp. The slightly macabre Hand is supposed to be a cast of Sir Francis Chichester’s, and was previously won by dinghy legend Jack Holt himself.

Winners took home bottles of bubbly from TWM, and gold medals from the RYA, celebrating the Olympic Year.

Results (Minima unless stated)

A Rater: Martin Hunter, Jacques Hunter, Rodger Stafford, Sue Williams (Thames SC)
Enterprise: Alan Jales, Heather Elwin. Merlin: Mike Stevens, Jo Lock (Tamesis Club)
Solo: Ali Banks. Handicap: Tom Hill, Luke Crawford (National 12, Twickenham)

Photo Credits

FLYING SOLO: Ali Banks shows why he won at Minima on Sunday (Picture: Peter Halligan)
POLISHED PERFORMANCE: Flinkdink’s varnish was nearly as smooth as Mike Stephens’s speech of thanks at Minima (Picture: Peter Halligan)

John Forbes.
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