“First Race to the Trout Inn”
The Merlin Rocket De May Vintage & Thames Series made its first visit to the picturesque Medley Sailing Club, perched on the banks of the River Thames above Oxford. The visitors from Thames, Hampton and Upper Thames Sailing Clubs arrived at the club to be greeted by a fast-flowing river and a gentle breeze from the south. Once rigged, the programme of the day was revealed: first race up river to the Trout Inn at Godstow Lock, now I thought “this is my kind of sailing”. The second race was a return trip to the club, and the third around a couple of placed marks.
A running start for race one, Sel Shah and Jemma Horwood went straight for the kite whilst most of the rest of the fleet waited for the wind to settle. The long run up river around many meanders proved eventful, Richard Burton and Miles Philips showed their local knowledge, rudder and board virtually all the way up, navigating the shallows expertly, caught up to Sel and Jemma. Miles and Sue Palmer seemed to be keen to plough a thin line along the river bed also made it alongside Sel, only to infringe them and whilst under taking their first of two 720s in the full stream dropped out of contention. The race was won by Sel and Jemma, Richard and Miles second and Stuart Jenkins and Nicola Scaddan third. The fleet sailed up the weir stream to rest ashore with a bottle of (covid secure) beer on Port Meadow with glorious views of the spires of Oxford in the distance.
Once refreshed the fleet then adopted a novel Le Mans style starting procedure for the second race, a beat back to the club. Once again Sel and Jemma took the lead with Stuart and Nicola following close behind. Now Miles and Sue, paranoid about their ploughing expertise, decided to ensure that they kept to the deep water and with the upwind mode suiting them, passed Sel and Stuart to arrive back at Medley first.
The final race was a short course near the clubhouse, a run up to mark 1 to port, and then downstream to mark 5 to starboard and back to the club line. Once mark 5 finally stopped moving the race got underway. With 5 boats abreast kites up, the first mark rounding looked like it would decide the race. Richard and Miles were the inside boat, but in the full force of the stream, and Miles and Sue were the outside boat in the least stream - interesting! As the kites dropped those closest to the mark stopped, just able to stem the stream. Miles and Sue went for a late drop, sailing 2 boat lengths beyond the mark, but able to round it first. In a “blink you have missed it“ beat back to mark 5, leaving a close fetch back to the line, Miles and Sue squandered their advantage trying to keep to the windward side of the course, while Stuart and Nicola went low to the bank and took the gun. with Miles and Sue second and Sel and Jemma third.
With one discard three boats had one point between them, the winner was Miles and Sue, Sel and Jemma second and Stuart and Nicola third. The visitors thanked the Burton family for all of their hard work in organising the day’s events and refreshments and providing a perfect day by the river. The quote on the trophy from Alice in wonderland “There’s plenty of room” said Alice indignantly and sat down in a large armchair at one end of the boat” summed up the whole day completely.