Tamesis Opens 2008

Porteous Cup (Saturday) & Sondown Cup (Sunday)
Porteous Cup

Mike Stephens continued his winning streak in Flinkidink (1097) taking the Porteous Cup with two firsts in a fleet of 15 vintage Merlins at Tamesis Club, Teddington, on Saturday 11 October. Crewed by his son, Andrew, he revelled in the light southerly breeze and in the first race fought off a close challenge from Omega (1605), sailed by Andy Harris and Liam Dempsey, who were first on the water but beaten on handicap.

In the second of the five round races, the main challenge came from Phil Dalby and Suzi Bell of Trent Valley SC in Onions (1761) who were leading at the end of the first round with Flinkidink second, but who dropped to fourth and then third while Flinkidink moved up to first in the next two rounds.

The warm autumn sunshine added to the enjoyment of both sailors and spectators. A carefully chosen position on the Surrey side of the start line was crucial in achieving a leading place at the windward mark, which had to be approached across the stream and left to port, and the fleet was soon split between the early front runners and those trying to catch them. An east-west dogleg in front of the clubhouse spread the fleet out even further.

The first race was delayed for half an hour because of lack of wind but the strength of the breeze improved steadily throughout the day and was at its best in the afternoon when competitors were also racing for the Southcott Cup.

Entry was limited to boats that are more than 30 years old and the meeting was also part of the De May Series for vintage Merlins. This was Mike's eighth win in the De May Series.

Sondown Cup

Jon Redding and his daughter Augusta won the Sondown Cup on a tie break at the Merlin Rocket Thames Series open meeting at Tamesis Club, Teddington, on Sunday 12 October. With the best two of the three races to count, everything hung on the last race.

Omega (1605), sailed by Andy Harris and Liam Dempsey, had won the first race, with Jon and Augusta Redding second in Brown Sugar (3520). The second race went to Luka (3560), sailed by Mike Stephens and his son Andrew, with Onions (1761), sailed by Phil Dalby and Suzi Bell of Trent Valley SC, second and Brown Sugar third. The third race was crucial for all three and was hotly contested. Brown Sugar was first, Luka second and Omega third. Jon Redding and Mike Stephens each had three points to count, but as winner of the last race Jon took the Cup.

After an attempted start in which what little wind there was shifted from north to south and then to nothing in under five minutes, Race Officer Henry Defries wisely imposed a general recall and then postponed for half an hour. A light breeze slowly developed from the south, shifting erratically at first from south east to south west and later to the west. With 22 boats coming to the start line, a black flag was raised to deter premature starters.

The first two races took place round an upstream-downstream course with both Canbury and Lensbury marks left to starboard. Success depended on finding a clear wind at the start and rounding Canbury ahead of the pack. Fearful of a black flag disqualification, the front runners favoured different parts of the river, some going up the Surrey bank, some up the middle and some up the Middlesex side.

Brown Sugar and Omega were early leaders, with Luka moving up from fifth to third after four rounds and Crescendo (607), sailed by Berry Ritchie and Sue Harris, from sixth to fourth. With slightly more wind in the second race, Luka moved up from second to first and Onions dropped from first to second, with Brown Sugar coming up in three rounds from fifth to third.

The lunch break was followed by a shift in wind direction to the south west and an east-west dogleg course was set to bring in two additional marks, Cadet and Club, to take advantage of the better breeze coming across the Recreation Ground and dinghy park. Omega was first round Canbury and across the dogleg, followed by David Vines and Kate Freestone in Elusive (3347), with Brown Sugar third and Luka fourth. After leading for two rounds Omega dropped to third, Brown Sugar moved up from third to first, Luka went from fourth to second and Elusive from second to fourth.

Andy Harris had the consolation of winning the Elizabeth Bowl, the prize for the first vintage boat, for the second year in succession.

1 Brown Sugar (3520) Jon & Augusta Redding, Tamesis, 3pts
2 Luka (3560) Mike & Andrew Stephens, Tamesis, 3pts
3 Omega (1605) Andy Harris & Liam Dempsey, Tamesis, 4pts
4 Onions (1761) Phil Dalby & Suzi Bell, Trent Valley SC, 7pts
5 Elusive (3347) David Vines & Kate Freestone, Tamesis, 8pts
6 Crescendo (607) Berry Ritchie & Sue Harris, Tamesis, 10pts

Elizabeth Bowl: Omega (1605) Andy Harris & Liam Dempsey

Report: John Dunkley