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Minima Regatta - 2013

posted 2 Sep 2013, 23:42 by Graham Morley   [ updated 2 Sep 2013, 23:42 ]
There is no point looking at the weather forecast if you are planning a sailing regatta: what will be will be. But Minima’s team running this year’s annual shindig on the Thames, sponsored for the seventh lucky year running by the excellent TWM Solicitors, looked out of the window on Saturday morning with a song in their hearts, as the day dawned with the magic mix of sun and breeze together.

Local conditions added their own ingredients to the recipe, with a reasonably steady north-westerly occasionally flipping from one side to the other of Minima’s home reach, bouncing off the new flats towards Kingston bridge, or swirling round the trees on the west bank. As the classes started the gusts must have hit force 4, but petered out and settled down around the force 2 mark, and barely that by the end of the only contest of the day.

But it was enough to let the race committee set a good long course, well across the Surbiton border and up to Raven’s Ait, home water of Thames Sailing Club, many of whom were supporting the Minima event. The towering Thames Raters of Thames and Upper Thames sailed a longer course right up to the ait (Thames-speak for islet) along with the Merlin Rockets, while the shorter-masted Enterprises and Solos had a top mark about three parts of the distance.

The results of that first race reflected the relatively straightforward conditions, tending towards the processional, although Nick Titley (Twickenham), Alistair Banks and John Metzner finished within 30 seconds of each other in their Solos, in that order. All parties then retired for an evening of barbecue and sublime jazz in a nearly-balmy evening on Minima balcony. It was to be a different story in the morning.

Sunday was sunny, but on the tree in my garden the leaves barely shivered. And the breeze for the second race, on Sunday morning had retained nothing from the previous day except its constant changing of direction. A fluky westerly gave us a race of lifts and holes, and frustration tacking to follow shifts which shifted back the moment you tacked. You may gather that your correspondent did not enjoy the best of fortunes, but the winner of this race in these most testing conditions came away with the overall trophy in every class.

Which is a slight distortion of the truth, in that in the Raters, Martin Hunter, now with Upper Thames, in fact won all three races. However for the Merlins, Enterprises and Solos the result was open until the final race, which took place in slightly less tormenting conditions. Ken Duffel of Tamesis took the Merlin prize after a couple of years leaving this honour to his clubmates, despite Thames’s Hullabalo (1692) taking two firsts, with different helms Patrick Rayner and Rob Cage. And it was good to see Minima’s top young sailors taking the honours in the Solos and Ents, which went to Alistair Banks and Alex Cane respectively.

Minima sailing secretary Steve Collins paid tribute to the commercial riverboats who steamed ‘sympathetically’ through the flock of 26 entries, which was fair but not as entertaining as the narrow boat which managed simultaneously to collect one competitor at each end when they managed to snag their mainsheets on its cleats.
Proceedings ended with a bang on Sunday night, after police carried out a controlled explosion on a grenade near Minima’s premises. Despite this, the competition has yet reached the level where flak jackets must be worn as well as lifejackets.

The winners each got a bottle of TWM Solicitors’ champagne, most cheerfully presented by Kingston Deputy Mayor Councillor Alan Dean, which added to the gaiety of a very successful event.

Results (Minima members unless stated), 26 entries: 

Thames ‘A’ Raters
  1. Martin Hunter, Roger Stafford, Jacques Hunter (Upper Thames)
  2. Tom Wilson, Julian Cocker, Stefan Kettner (Thames)
Merlin Rocket
  1. Ken Duffel, Joe Woods (Tamesis)
  2. Chris Martin (Thames)
  3. Dennis Lockwood, Erica Bishop
  1. Alex Cane, David Cane
  2. John Forbes, Alex Miller
  1. Alistair Banks
  2. John Kemp
  3. Nick Titley (Twickenham)
John Forbes, Minima.
(Photos by Pete Halligan)