A small, but perfectly formed fleet at Ranelagh, with a previous, or current, National Champion in every boat....
With a 2-20kt NSEW blowing out on the river, it was Thames sailing at its most challenging best.
Chris Whitehouse/Simon Haighton were sharpest out of the blocks on a down tide start towards Hammersmith Bridge. They were overhauled by the newly married Steve and Ally Hall (getting in early practice for hotly contested champs married couples trophy...) as they passed Craven Cottage - with hails of 'where we going?!' as they overtook...
The boats turned at the leeward mark opposite the Crabtree Pub, with Steve/Ally first, then Whithouse/Haighton, and our National Champion, Charlie Roome, sailing with girlfriend Claire Walsh, bringing up the rear.
Whilst, Steve and Ally sniggled away to a commanding lead, Charlie and Claire were putting the pressure on the boys - taking a higher line away from Fulham Bank, in more tide but also more wind. However, as is so often the case on this stretch of water, put one foot wrong and it can all change in an instant.... Whitehouse/Haighton managed to land a leebow tack, forcing Roome/Walsh to tack into more tide, and unfortunately disappear back towards Hammersmith Bridge (Sorry!).
With Steve and Ally passing the (famous) Windward Mark first, the chase was on... After several rounds, Chris and Simon were slowly reeling the happy couple back in. Up the final 'beat' back up to the finish line, Whitehouse/Haighton spotted the slackening tide and gambled with a mid-river charge. With the river gods smiling, Chris and Simon just snuck past within the final 10m, to take a last ditch victory.
Ally was heard to say 'that was mean!', but we take no prisoners on the river...
As is customary, after a good sail, we headed back to the club house for a lovely post race dinner - this time a fantastic lasagne. Thanks to Ranelagh Sailing Club for being such good hosts. And we hope to see a few more Larks next year.
1st: 2411 Chris Whitehouse/Simon Haighton
2nd: 2533 Steve and Ally Hall
3rd: 2519 Charlie Roome/Claire Walsh