Smooth running helped by Commodore's correct call
by Alan Mallett (2014)
Reproduced courtesy of the Eastern Daily Press
Sailing Alan Mallett – 2nd June 2014
It was too much to expect a third consecutive weekend of ideal sailing weather, and although there was no rain there was minimal wind for the 104 starters in Horning SC’s Navigators and General Three Rivers Race sailed from 11am on Saturday until lunchtime yesterday.
Light winds boded ill as the fleet made slow progress downstream after the 14 starts. Aware of the forecast, and that the ebb tide, enhanced by the effect of last week’s rain, was due to turn at about 9.30pm at Acle and a little later at Potter, HSC Commodore George Whitefoot made the difficult, but correct, decision to turn the fleet 100 yards or so upstream of Acle Bridge. Whilst depriving the crowds of some excitement this undoubtedly enabled many more to finish than would otherwise have been the case.
In all, 45 finished within the 24 hour time limit, led by past winner Paul Browning’s Thames A Rater, crewed by Justin Brown and Patrick Rayner, who crossed the finishing line some minutes before 1am to take the principal awards and win on handicap by 22 minutes. The seventh finisher, also a Rater, came ashore at 5am. Their fellow Raters were all beaten by the Commodore’s son Robert, crewed by David Millerge in their punt, with Adrian Mickleson’s Rater crewed by Chris Kelsby and Chris Martin third, and another with Nick Fribbens, Rob Cage and, the first woman to finish Sel Shah fourth, well over two hours adrift of the winners. Last year’s winners, veterans John Parker and James Savage, made sixth place.
Interestingly, the top 10 included two production cruisers, Gemina (Derek Cole), a Gem Micro, who came in seventh, and Papillion (A Campbell), the last finisher but who moved up to ninth, sandwiching Mike Partridge’s River Cruiser Amanti, with Simon Bryan’s Vacuna 10th. This was easily the best result production Cruisers have achieved.
For probably the first time, the Raters shared the pleasure usually denied them by their speed of the night watches, the flat calm, mist, and condensation creeping inside their clothing as they drifted windless from St Benets upstream in the small hours. Amongst the local traditional classes Clive Gardner beat Richard Tusting for leading YBOD, Peter Bainbridge in his 100-year-old Great Yarmouth OD made 20th spot, Aaron Male led James Buntin in the Yeomans by four minutes, and Rebel Queen with Jon Davies, Curtis Drew and Radio Norfolk’s Wally Webb headed the Rebel fleet.
The Whitefoot family scored something of a hat-trick with father George running the event and son Robert coming second and winning the Punts, while son Richard was crewing Richie Dugdale, with David Williams and Clare Ellis as they won the award for first River Cruiser to complete, although their handicap pushed them well down the order.
Sadly the dinghies dropped out almost like flies. Tim Robertson’s Wanderer made 17th overall to earn the premier dinghy award while in 23rd Jim and Laura Windley scraped across the line in their Wayfarer with just 11 minutes to spare to take their class trophy. The 59 retirements included, sadly, Malcolm Bishop who was on his 50th race. The last seven qualifiers were all punts, including two who, despite finishing within the 34 hours, recorded times slightly over that level after the handicapping.
Incidents were few and far between, even Potter Bridge passing uneventfully after a Motor Cruiser, White Lady, found the bridge too low and had to be pulled clear by spectators, fortunately before the first boat arrived.
In fact the only significant problems were at Ludham Bridge and South Walsham Broad in the early afternoon when water space was largely exceeded by boats therein.
All told, HSC can be congratulated on a successful weekend against substantial odds.
(Typed verbatim from the EDP report)
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