Harlow (Blackwater) Open 2007

16 Merlins gathered at the top of the slipway in brilliant sunshine with a soft SW to S afternoon breeze and just a hint of sea breeze, interesting but a bit shifty. The incoming tide, a gentle flow and full of long, soft green weed that had been lifted off the mud banks (looking for the racing helm’s foils) floated up through the creek.

The start was for some the end; picking the north side as it turned out was not the thing to do and for Mr Rainey, Jacko, Charles Davenport and Ozzie, all with the facial expressions of mortuary attendants, suffered as all other competing yachters disappeared at a goodly pace down the south bank.

Tom and Liam nipped into the lead as they passed Lawling point and headed straight down the middle, despite the lead boat taking a look around Goldhanger creek, popped the kite up and down, viewed the Thames barges (full off day trippers looking at the race through the bottoms of emptying glasses) and were not seen again, so lifted the booty.

Duncan and Ian, making a fair start and just a tad puzzled at the lead boat verses Tom and Liam, but carefully observing the bow of the Thames barge and Northy Doubles navigation mark, picked off some hot lifts on port, sailed a smart race to be 2nd.

Mr Rainy and Vicki, recovering well from the deathly start, hit the north side of Lawling creek and headed for Osea Island (Kylie Minogue was not to be seen on the beach) and at a good pace worked their way up, taking on the armada of motorised craft supporting the Heybridge, around Northy Island, rowing race (in anything that floated) received a well worthy 3rd place.

William and Chris, sporting colours that blended in well with the Thames barges and classic craft, having had a conversation with Jacko and Lorna on just who the gun fire was intended for as they sailed down Colliers Reach (and as it transpired it was for the finishing oarsman). William ducking and shifting weed finished 4th.

Notables: Laura Davison did not kill Ron for making Jacko’s start look good. Charles Davenport and Steve Brown made an appearance. Tudor Owen (Whitstable) lost contact with voices from above. Simon and Beccy’s boat did not need repairing post race. Mr Cooper was not racing for the bottle of red. No boats saw mud. And as I write this (Sunday) I see the weather station at Thorpe Bay is reading 23.6 mph gusting 33.4 mph. Good luck chaps and chapiess.

I would also like to render apologies to Charles D for not looking harder for a replacement front-end girl. All in all it was a race with much changing of places right to the last corner (Mundon Spit) and the north or south bank. I would like to thank all the Rocket men and ladies for their support in the 3rd two islands race in this millennium.

Report: Alan Jackson

See also:
    More info on Blackwater River events
    Discuss the event (requires registering on Y&Y website)