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Spring Long Distance Race – Sunday 5 May 2013

posted 12 May 2013, 11:57 by Graham Morley   [ updated 13 May 2013, 11:43 ]
With practically non-existent west to south-west wind, this year’s key Minima club event of the spring might best be described as gruelling. Granted the weather was quite warm and pleasant, and the rain stayed off, but this was just as well, because for almost all the time the sailors were sitting either waiting for a puff of wind or praying the stream didn’t take them back to where they were five minutes before. Demoralising is another way of describing it.

The full course length is traditionally from the club house to Hampton Court bridge and back, but on this occasion it was shortened, with the upstream mark put in the water near Thames Ditton Island. Even this was a tad too long for the conditions! Outbound, some competitors stopped off for ice creams at the Riverside Café to boost already flagging morale and cool off! The majority of starters retired just below Raven’s Ait. After this, invoking the new Stragglers’ Rule, Bay Gent helmed by Richard Shillito and Jackdaw helmed by Andy Cuckson took a tow to bring them past the Ait and hopefully back into the race. Others getting that far strictly under sail needn’t have worried – progress for the less experienced helms was still tending to zero! Ahead, remaining competitors were Rob Brooks (Solo, Solace), Alan Jales (Enterprise, Minnie Too), Ali Banks (Solo, Windrush), Steve Collins (Wayfarer, Arctic Fox), and Sel Shah (Merlin, Pooh). After what seemed an age, all then retired except Ali, Steve and Sel.

The Spring Long Distance is a class race, with trophies for Merlin Rocket, Solo, Enterprise and Handicap classes, but the trophies for Merlin Rocket and Solo classes were not available to be presented, and no Enterprises finished. First boat home was Pooh, helmed by Sel Shah and crewed by Ben Marshall. The only entrant for Handicap class and second across the line was Arctic Fox, helmed and crewed by Steve and Kathy Collins. Third and final finisher Ali Banks took a standing ovation from the balcony on crossing the line in Windrush after 4 hours 25 minutes. All competitors deserve congratulations for their tremendous effort, but the three finishers deserve medals for tenacity and endurance, and Ali deserves a gold one for enduring such a long time working alone in a small boat. Let’s hope for more wind (sorry, any wind) next year.

The winners were:

 Class  Boat Name  Helm  Crew
 Merlin Rocket Pooh  Sel Shah  Ben Marshall 
 Solo Windrush  Alastair Banks 
 Handicap Arctic Fox  Steve Collins  Kathy Collins 
 Enterprise No finishers 

Full results can be found by clicking this link: Race Results

Photo Key (Top to Bottom):

1. Steve and Kathy Collins accepting the Spring Long Distance Handicap Plate from Kingston’s Mayor, Councillor Mary Heathcote

Report by Andy Cuckson