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AQSC Mid-Thames Trophy 20 May 2023

The day dawned fine and clear. We were hosting the annual Mid Thames trophy, usually raced for by four river clubs; on this occasion only Hampton Sailing Club were sending a team to challenge our intrepid racers. The wind was a variable North Easterly, around 8 mph, gusting to about 15. And gust it did, later on, with great effect, as you shall hear.

Our racing team consisted of five lasers (Rodger, Dane, Steve, Charles and Josh) and two Bosuns (Graham and Nigel). Hampton's armada arrived at about 11, consisting of a Merlin-Rocket, an Enterprise, a GP 14 and a Solo. Frank Rainsborough was the officer in charge on the day, ably supported by Mike Baker, with Mike Gatehouse in the patrol boat, and Frank set a fiendish course (actually a very sensible course) with a mark upstream, a mark downstream and a dog-leg to windward.

After the briefing the bell was sounded for the countdown to the first race, which started without incident. It was soon apparent that the Merlin Rocket was the boat to catch, going round the course in under 8 minutes, with the Lasers between one and two minutes behind. Ian Peerless's Enterprise went well and finished second behind the Merlin, with Charles and Dane tying for third in Lasers.

Then, Lunch, which was beautifully created by Erica and team. Baked potatoes, with a choice of fillings. Brilliant. Happy sailors!

At 2pm sharp the second race was under way. Josh streaked into an early lead, followed by Dane, with the Merlin Rocket threatening in third. During the third lap, however, Dane's tiller broke and he had to abandon, leaping directly into the patrol boat to assist Mike who had received a distress from the GP 14, a long way downstream by the bottom mark. The helm had fallen overboard and the boat was jammed in among the debris just forward of a large moored yacht. Having reboarded by way of some gymnastics, he decided to retire, and the race was won by the Merlin again, with Charles second and Josh third.

Straight into the third race, and the wind decided to play some tricks. Rounding the first mark, the whole fleet was hit by a dramatic squall, resulting in many near capsizes and a collision, the consequence being the retirement of the Enterprise, with a hole in her hull the size of an ostrich egg. The wind howled in the rigging, and the water was black with fury. The Solo also retired, leaving the Merlin as the sole Hampton boat, Rodger came through to win this one, with the Merlin-Rocket second and Graham third.

Tea was gratefully received (thank you caterers!) and the numbers were crunched for the results, which resulted in a win for AQUARIUS SAILING CLUB. Rodger accepted the trophy from Dave Gettings, Sailing Secretary of HSC, and our victorious team posed for photographs and basked in the sunshine and glory on the quarter deck. Hampton Sailing Club, generous losers, patched up their Enterprise with gaffa tape and plastic, and sailed back downriver. We hope to see them again soon.

 The Aquarius Team by Mike Gatehouse     

Photo by Andy Ford