Inaugural Thames Trafalgar Race, 2013
With the support and encouragement of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Erith Yacht Club and the Little Ship Club joined forces to co-ordinate a new end of season race to be held in October 2013.
The weekend started with the race briefing on Friday 18 October at the LSC, where there was plenty of food and drink and by all accounts a good time had by all. Meanwhile, a team at EYC completed decorating and table arranging ready for the volunteers on Saturday to lay the tables and prepare the food.
Saturday began with a leisurely breakfast (well it did in my house for some of the crew of Surfeit). A small flotilla left Erith to meet the rest of the A Class (off Shadwell Basin) or the B Class (at Greenwich YC). We missed some of the rain as we headed up river under motor.
The A Class (fast handicap) started in the rain at 1400 with a spinnaker run to the turn to Deptford passing Millwall. Close creeping along the north shore was required to keep the wind and out of the tide. The majority of the fleet was caught at the south side corner with no wind, giving Surfeit the chance to get away from the fleet.
With the tide beginning to ebb more of the river could be used and the spinnakers hoisted where possible, especially having passed the barrier and ferry. A squally wind picked up as we tacked down Erith Reach and close-hauled to the finish at EYC. Surfeit took line honours after a hard race.
The evening progressed with a two-course Trafalgar dinner. Tables were laid out beautifully on both floors of the clubhouse, each named after a ship of the British fleet at the battle. Geoff Pigott gave the welcome on behalf of EYC, and Sir Robin an entertaining address after the dessert before toasting the Immortal Memory. The serving and clearing seemed to go seamlessly thanks to all the volunteers who supported the galley team.
Sunday proved a different day - squally showers and lighter winds than predicted (or hoped for). Both fleets started at the same time at EYC. There was a good tussle between Surfeit (M Caton) and Chamois (I Pickard) before the former hoisted their spinnaker and caught up with Thunderchild (C Beazer). The close-haul/tacking up to the barrier was tricky. Grand Panjandrum (S Tranchell/D Thomson) used her upwind credentials to good effect, catching up with the lead boats and maintaining the lead to get line honours. For those watching the race, they would have seen the close tacking between a number of the yachts, as they came to the finish. It was a good battle to the end.
There are a lot of people who need to be thanked from both EYC and the LSC. With the level of organising and co-ordination needed there were many who had their part to play and had done their duty. The water and land-based activities went very well and positive comments have been made by everyone I spoke to. Well done everyone and thank you to the yacht owners for coming racing.
For a different perspective of the two days racing follow the link to the Practical Boat Owner website:
Vice Commodore, EYC [crew of Surfeit]