Thirteen Merlin Rockets turned out on Sunday 21 May at Tamesis Club for the Thames Series, sponsored by CraftInsure. Also, at stake on the day were the Sondown Cup and the Elizabeth Bowl.
While remaining a wonderful place to spend a sunny May weekend the Thames Series at Tamesis Club was not for the faint-hearted this year. The club hosted Merlin Opens on both Saturday and Sunday. Here is a racing report for the Sunday.
Restricted water and unpredictable gusts created challenging conditions. Combined with multiple other river users including the sea scouts, rowers, paddle boarders, pleasure boats, canoeists, tourist steamers (and the occasional swimmer!) the stakes were high.
Given the conditions this year we certainly didn’t need Chris Simon, the on-water Rule 42 judge, to whistle up any more wind and neither did he have to blow his whistle for any infringements.
Indeed, with local boat War Horse throwing the riders and already capsized before the start of the first race, competitors knew considerable concentration was required.
Accordingly, everyone concentrated hard to hit line with speed at the gun. However, enthusiasm trumped concentration and in a downstream start with gusts powering up their mains much of the fleet were over the line.
Out came the Black Flag.
This allowed time for the waterlogged War Horse to drain and recover to make the new sequence on time. An orderly start at the second attempt!
Being a full ‘open’ two wide boats were racing for honours. During the race tricky gusts took their toll with several further capsizes, much broaching and an unfortunate melee of collisions. It proved to be exciting racing for the competitors as well as for the considerable crowd of spectators.
The second race was a calmer affair but important for the positions. Following a DNF in race one Andy Harris and Matty Key in 607 Crescendo pulled out a win, beating brother Richard into second, Luka third.
In the last race, after a hearty lunch, it was again all to play for. Another Black flag start after a general recall. Once away the race turned out to be once again a family battle between Richard and Andy Harris. After the first rounding and on the first long run upriver nearly all the boats were line abreast. Their choice of the wall put both Passing Cloud and Crescendo out of the stronger central stream of the river. Sister Sara Warren had jumped ship from Crescendo after an overall win on Saturday and was now sailing on Passing Cloud. Maybe the difference was down to her crewing as Richard, in Passing Cloud, inexorably eked out a convincing lead. A second win of the day was enough to claim both the Sondown Cup and the Elizabeth Bowl, for the second year in a row.
In the open series, second place went to Andy Harris crewed by Matty Key and third place to Ollie Houseman and Egle Tumosa.
Once again, the football Premiership table was finalised this weekend. This time without even requiring Manchester City to play to put the points difference to rest. That’s five titles in six years and three in a row for Pep Guardiola. We may yet see the same dominance of the various sailing cups.
For readers unfamiliar with Tamesis it is a beautiful oasis of tranquillity in west London. Very picturesque with winds that are predominantly light as the water is not wide or open. The Thames on this stretch is nestled between residential houses, park trees and some larger buildings upstream on the Surrey (Eastern) side. The windy conditions seen in the event were tricky because of the ‘helicopter’ gusts that flatten down from above in every direction. Long experience pays dividends racing at Tammy.
The club aims welcome guests warmly and the hospitality at this event was second to none. The on-the-water competitive spirits were somewhat elevated by the testing conditions. The club, yet again, excelled in very positively marketing itself as a challenging and interesting place to race.
Overall, a great weekend of sailing beautiful boats with intense racing. You had to see it to believe it, get involved. Many thanks to all those at Tamesis for hosting the event.
The next Thames Series event is at Upper Thames on 17th September 2023.
Thank you Peter Impey for the report.