River Thames Series 2003

The final leg of the Merlin Thames River series drew to a close at the historic Ranelagh Sailing Club on October 26th with 18 boats spanning most marques and vintages. The good breeze and strong tides provided exciting racing with many place changes. The race was finally won by Duncan Salmon and Ian Garwood from Wembley, but Oliver Houseman and Catherine Ashley took the overall Thames Series in 3560 'Luka' - a modern version of the historic 1961 Passing Cloud design.

The Thames River series started at Ranelagh in February, also a Silver Tiller event, easily won by Simon Blake and Linton Jenkins from Cookham. Upper Thames hosted the second leg (the furthest upstream venue) in April, which was won by the local boat 'Second Thought' sailed by Chris Rathbone. Next stop was Cookham, a few miles down the river where, in June, Andy Harris (Tamesis) took the honours in 1631 'Splatter', showing that the older designs can still be hard to beat in the taxing river conditions.

With a break over the summer period the series resumed in September, which saw Houseman put together a string of victories at Thames, Hampton (also Silver Tiller event) and Minima. David Croft was the only person able break Housemanís run by winning the Tamesis open.

Overall 98 people competed in the 2003 series with fleets up to 36 boats strong.

The final overall 2003 places are:
1st - Oliver Houseman and Catherine Ashley, Luka 3560 - Tamesis
2nd - Alan and Sue Markham, Summit Fever 3594 - UTSC
3rd - Chris Rathbone and Dave Tutcher, Second Thought 3570 - UTSC
4th - Andy Harris and Rob Wilder, Rabbit/Harry/Splatter - Tamesis
5th - Mark Candelas and Phil Treacher, 3542 Steppenwolf - Wembley
6th - Ross Jackson and Gina Page, Take it Easy 3606 - Shoreham

The 2004 series kick off at Ranelagh on February 8th and provides an excellent opportunity for modern and classic boats to compete on a level playing field in close competition.

Andy Jones