Upper Thames Open 2003

Thames Series racing at Upper Thames saw some lively racing on the river, despite a low visitor attendance due to competition from the Salcombe Silver Tiller event.

Sunny light South-easterlys greeted Satruday’s competitors for the Spade Oak Bowl trophy race. The fleet was made up from all local boats, with a wide range of Merlin designs from a classic Merlin, sailed by Chris & Liz Chacksfield (1906) to a modern Winder (3594). No particular boat had the advantage after the first beat, however after the rounding of the leeward mark there was some confusion over the course which had been creatively set by the Race Team, enabling Peter Walker to pull away from the group. The conditions suited Walker, but frustrated Russel Connor who was having top-batten problems. Alan Markham held a steady 2nd place until the last lap, when Chris Rathbone squeezed through to beat him to the line.

Sunday 13th April saw a great day’s racing. The fleet was joined by the only visiting boat, the Smith brothers in ‘Golden Snitch’, for the Allen Challenge Cup, part of the Thames Series. The conditions were perfect for the day’s 3 races, with a south-easterly force 4-5, and still sunny! Spinnaker reaches upstream were testing and exciting.
Alan Markham, who prefers the more breezy conditions, overtook Walker on the 2nd lap and held his position to the finish. Connor had overcome his batten problems from the previous day to take 3rd place.
Race 2 saw Markham make a good start, leading the fleet for the first 2 laps, until a mistake on the last lap allowed Walker through, followed by Chris Rathbone, who had called up Phil Preston, his heavy-weight crew.
All to play for going into the last race, with Markham and Walker on equal points, and Rathbone still with a chance. Walker and Markham were both too eager to the line leaving Chris Rathbone with the perfect start and an early lead.

The windward mark was conveniently located opposite a pub garden, and spectators were out in force to watch everyone tack within inches of the shore to make the lay-line. The visitors, Golden Snitch, seemed mesmurised by a low overhead telegraph cable, clearing it by only millimetres! Excellent spinnaker handling enabled the Markhams to come from last place to challenge Rathbone for the lead, but held on to take 1st place, with Markham 2nd and Walker 3rd.

The top 3 boats finished on equal points, with Chris Rathbone, and his secret weapon Super Crew Preston taking victory, having won the last race.

Debbie Walker


The winners:
photo of winners
from left to right:
Pete and Debbie Walker (Smooth Operator 3545)
Phil Preston and Chris Rathbone (Second Thought 3570)
Sue and Alan Markham (Summit Fever 3594)


Saturday 12th April - Spade Oak Bowl:
1st 3545 Smooth OperatorP & D Walker
2nd 3594 Summit FeverA & S Markham
3rd 3570 Second ThoughtC & S Rathbone
4th 3247 RapportR Connor & V Pilon
DNF 1906 ReiverC & E Chacksfield


Sunday 13th April - Allen Challenge Cup:
1st 3570 Second ThoughtC Rathbone & P Preston
2nd 3594 Summit FeverA & S Markham
3rd 3545 Smooth OperatorP & D Walker
4th 3245 Golden SnitchM & A Smith
5th 3247 RapportR Connor & V Pilon
6th 1906 ReiverC & E Chacksfield


The next event at the club is Bourne End Week at the end of May.