Sprints and marathons split Three Rivers Race into two
by Alan Mallett (1995)
Reproduced courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
The 35th Three Rivers Race sailed this weekend proved yet again that there are, in fact, two races. The first a sprint, relatively speaking on the part of a score of fast boats, and an endurance test for the other 80 odd. This fact was underlined by the results, the first eight boats finishing between 1.35 and 4.35 am and the remainder following over the next 10 hours.
Pride of place must go to Chris Bunn in the Thames Rater Vanessa. Bunn and his three crew mates used his experience and the Rater’s vast sail area to full advantage, opting to get the best of the wind by making first for Acle and the Stracey Arms mark, which he reached in just over two-and-a-half hours. On then to Hickling, three hours later punching the tide all the way and then the five hour drift home via Ludham and South Walsham to take five trophies – overall winner, first boat home (by almost an hour), fastest boat (ditto), first drop-keel boat under 12 per cent and first HSC member. It was an impressive haul by any standards.
His principal rivals in the speed stakes had mixed fortunes. Mostly they opted for the short legs and Hickling, leaving Stracey to the last. Even so, David Frary and Patrick Richardson in the Slipstreams finished in that order around an hour later with Michael Virden not very far behind in the Punt. Also taking this course was Neil Rushton in his Wayfarer who managed second overall in a creditable 14 ½ hours sailing, and Anthony Landamore’s Cruiser Matilda did even better with just under 14 hours’ action.
The later starters made heavy weather of it. Indeed, one unfortunate contestant took close on seven hours to reach Ludham and four failed to reach Thurne after eight hours’ sailing. By that time, around midnight, another 65 boats were drifting between Acle Bridge and Stracey Arms in an almost flat calm.
There were the inevitable casualties. Past winner Stu Rix, much fancied in his RS400, retired with a fractured goose-neck on Hickling after making good time thus far. The Thames Rater Champagne retired with mast problems at Potter, and sheer fatigue thinned out many more and ultimately 31 boats retired and one Wayfarer was time barred on the 24 hour rule. Nonetheless, it wasn’t all had news for the traditionally slower boats as Giles Bryan took Crystal to splendid 12th place overall.
Perhaps a rethink would be in order. One suggestion is to put Chris Bunn, David Frary, Neil Rushton and Stu Rix each in a 20-25 percent handicap Cruiser next year and see what happens. It could be very interesting.
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